Are you wasting your time and energy? Check your fuel tank

If it helps you become more disciplined, think of each hour of the day as a penny you get to spend.

In the 21st century, both time and energy are in short supply.

Many of us have plenty of food, maybe even too much. A lot of us have decent shelter, although it’s gotten more expensive. But we struggle getting everything done, day to day and week to week. After time with our kids, our partner, work, laundry, the yard, the house, shopping, cooking and cleaning, we are short on time and energy for ourselves.

After all of those “to do’s,” we’re out of gas. Each of us only has so much vitality, both physical and mental. Some of this is constitutional — don’t you just hate how your friend always seems to be on the go but never looks tired? They’re always ready to do one more thing. Some adults are gifted with constitutions that have a lot of fuel in their tank. Others, maybe not so much.

Other factors can influence our energy level too — diet, quality of sleep, health status, and the worst offender — age. I can’t help but notice that as I have gotten older, my energy has declined. Now I have more time, but not always enough energy. It’s not fair.

So, we have to be thoughtful about activities that waste time and energy. And, we have to be aware of how to improve our vitality. Some of it’s just common sense. But then again, sometimes we all can be on our own worst enemy.

Here are a few things that can waste your time:

Social media, texts and video games. Handheld devices can suck the life out of you, but more importantly, they suck time from your day. Is it really necessary to take pictures of your meals and post them on Instagram? Do you have to respond to every text you get from every friend or family member right away? How much time do you spend scrolling through social media looking at trivia? Exercise discipline. Use the time for something more enjoyable.

Television. Sure, I like to watch a movie here and there. But binge watching a Netflix series can rob you of hours. Sometimes, we’re just too tired to do anything else but plop ourselves in front of a screen and watch a show. But make sure it’s one that you really enjoy.

Work email. Work is important — but who wants to work 24/7? Set regular times to read and respond to email. Don’t look at your device every time your work email on your phone pings you. Better yet, consider not having work email linked to your phone.

Puttering. A little power puttering is fine. But sometimes, if I’m not aware, I can spend several hours doing a little of this or that, without really doing anything at all.

Here are a few things that can drain your energy:

Eating too much junk food, sugar, coffee, or skipping meals. Yeah, we need to make sure that we put high-quality gasoline into our engines at regular intervals to keep our energy up.

Not enough sleep. All of us need 7-9 hours of sleep to be adequately restored. If we don’t get enough sleep, we are surely going to have an energy crisis that even a quadruple latte won’t fix.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Buddhist monk, reminds us that every morning we when rise, we are given 24 shiny pennies that represent each hour of the day. Some of these pennies must go toward work and sleep. But be very thoughtful how you spend the ones left over. Each one is precious. Be disciplined about your time and energy.

So, how can you use your time and energy more enjoyably? Think about it.

Paul Schoenfeld is a psychologist at The Everett Clinic. His Family Talk blog can be found at www.everettclinic.com/family-talk-blog.

Talk to us

More in Life

Clematis armandii is just one of hundreds of varieties out there of the blooming vine. (Getty Images)
How to establish Clematis as the queen of the garden

It helps to remember this little ditty: “Hot heads and cold feet / Plant them early and plant them deep.”

J-Key is most known for his single "Crazy," whose accompany music video pays homage to the 1992 film "Juice" starring Tupac. (YouTube)
Music series promotes 7 local artists and nonprofits

Everett rapper J-Key will kick off HOMEBODIES 2, hosted by Everett Music Initiative’s Facebook page.

Reproduction furniture sells for low prices when compared to antiques, but there are still companies making useful, accurate copies of 18th-century pieces. This tavern table cost only $469. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
Companies still make copies of 18th century American furniture

A reproduction of a Wallace Nutting tavern table recently sold for $469. This a type of table was used for serving in the tap room of Colonial taverns.

Joel Fry, top, and Ellora Torchia in "In the Earth." MUST CREDIT: Neon
Pandemic adds extra layer of menace to ‘In the Earth’

A naive scientist encounters pagan horror in the woods of England in this unnerving film.

The Camano Wildlife Habitat Project is hosting a “Gardening for Pollinators and Birds” webinar on April 21 via Zoom. (Enumclaw Courier-Herald)
Home and garden events and resources around Snohomish County

Home and garden events and resources around Snohomish County

Ask a pediatrician: Are infrared thermometers safe to use on children?

Some posts on social media warn about the possible dangers of non-contact infrared thermometers.

Health check: Why it’s important to ask an expert about nutrition

They call her “Dr. Quinn, Nutrition Woman” — even though she’s not a doctor — because of the Western TV show.

Pinto greens and beans, in this case, spinach, is a Hispanic take on a favorite Pittsburgh Italian dish. (Gretchen McKay/Post-Gazette/TNS)
The classic Italian ‘beans and greens’ gets a Latin spin

A charred tomatillo salsa adds a bright and zesty finish to this traditional comfort food.

Public Health Essentials! (Snohomish Health District)
How employers can help defeat this pandemic through vaccination

Public Health Essentials! A blog by the Snohomish Health District.

Most Read