How To Spend Time Without Fearing You’ve Wasted It. Part 2. By Dr Linda Berman.

  1. ‘Wasting’ Time.


J. Coghlan. Richard II In Prison at Pomfret Castle. Early 19th Century. Wikimedia Commons.

“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.”

Shakespeare. Richard II.

There are many ways of thinking about wasted time. Shakespeare’s King Richard II sees himself as being ‘wasted’ by time as he languishes in prison.

As I mentioned in last week’s post on maturity, the political prisoner and writer Solzhenitsyn regarded his time in prison, on the other hand, as giving him the space and opportunity to reflect :

“Be glad you’re in prison. Here you have time to think about your soul.”


How we use out time is very much a personal issue.This has been highlighted by the pandemic, by lockdown, and self-isolation.

The two prison experiences above show us that how we look at time depends very much on our ways of thinking.

“The way we spend our time defines who we are.”

Jonathan Estrin

“Time is relative; its only worth depends upon what we do as it is passing.”

Albert Einstein

Of course, it is possible to waste time when we really need to be productive, by putting things off, avoiding difficult tasks, having a lack of organisation.

From an emotional point of view, if we constantly seek approval from others, or try to change them into the people we want or need them to be, we are wasting our time.

In addition, if we are pulled by internal ‘shoulds‘ and ‘oughts‘, then our work may be driven by guilt and a sense of duty, rather than an inner desire to be productive, effective and creative.

imageChristian Krohg. Madelaine. Wikimedia Commons.

“You can get totally messed up trying to please everyone with what you do, but ultimately, you have to please yourself.”

Pierce Brosnan

If we are people-pleasing much of the time, then we are risking becoming driven, overworked and burnt out, and missing out on leisure, relaxation, family and friendships.

Counselling or psychotherapy may be of help if these issues feel unmanageable.

Being in a rush all the time is reflective of our contemporary culture. Perhaps we have lost some of the ability to spend time looking deeply into life, rather than quickly surfing the internet.


Time Management Cartoon. Vectortoons. Wikimedia Commons.

“Modern man thinks he loses something – time – when he does not do things quickly. Yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains, except kill it.”

 Erich Fromm

There are instances when people feel resentful at their lack of time. Perhaps it is difficult sometimes to take responsibility for how we manage our lives… and our time.

“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.”

Jean de La Bruyère

The above quote is relevant to an elderly man I once saw for therapy.

He spent so much time angrily complaining to me about the fact that he had only fifty minutes in the session, that he used up the time he had.

“Regret for wasted time is more wasted time.”

Mason Cooley

It helped when I ventured to link this to a childhood feeling of anger and resentment that he never had enough time with his father.

  • Is There Such A Thing As ‘Healthy Time-Wasting’?

It is important to differentiate between real avoidance and the need, on some occasions, to ‘waste time’ without feeling any guilt, which may, actually, be healthy.

Sometimes, allowing ourselves to be messy, ‘wasting time’ not tidying or sorting, can result in unexpected productivity. What do I mean by this?

Accepting the disorganisation, the clutter, both inside and out, can sometimes be a relief… or it can produce something very creative:


Triple Portrait. Lucian Freud. Wikiart.

“Embrace the glorious mess that you are.”

Elizabeth Gilbert.


Francis Bacon’s studio at the City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin

“Chaos is the backdrop for hidden wonderment and success.”

Jon Kolko

51211059045_8dbd1bb524_oDavid Hockney – Ian Watching Television [1987]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time”

Marthe Troly- Curtin.

imageWilliam Merritt Chase: Idle Hours. c. 1894. Wikimedia Commons.

“To encode, consolidate and process information, the brain is desperately in need of unstimulated idle time. Idle time helps you clear your thoughts, sharpen your perceptions and calm your emotions. It also produces “random episodic thoughts” that are highly creative.”

Dr Varghese Punnoose

Depending on our inner attitude to life and the world around us, doing nothing but being still and peaceful can often give us an opportunity to find solutions to problems and be at our most creative.

“Creativity is the residue of time wasted.” 

Albert Einstein

imageWoman with Birdcage in Window. Cliff Rowe. Wikioo.

“The difficulty of always feeling that you ought to be doing something is that you tend to undervalue the times when you’re apparently doing nothing, and those are very important times.”

Brian Eno

2. ImpermanenceTempus Fugit.

imageTime and Tide. Alfred Thompson Bricher. 1873.Wikioo.

“Time and tide wait for no man.”

Geoffrey Chaucer

Time marches on, irrevocably. Everything changes.

We become empowered if we face and accept this incontrovertible fact, and freer to enjoy our lives and spend our time in a way that makes us feel fulfilled and happy.

“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.”

W. Somerset Maugham

If we genuinely embrace the concept of impermanence, we will be more likely to use the time we do have beneficially, for ourselves and others.

“You may delay, but time will not.”

 Benjamin Franklin

“The trouble is, you think you have time.”


3. Time Gives Us Choices.

“Every instant is a new universe.”

Joan Tollifson

imageAt The Window. William Rothenstein. Wikioo.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien.

During the pandemic, many of our choices have been limited.

Tolkien’s prescient words “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us,’ is so relevant now.

Despite some restrictions, we still do have some choice in terms of what to do with our time.

It has frequently been difficult for us all to manage time when we have been restricted to staying in our homes.

“Time cannot be broken; that is our greatest burden. And our greatest challenge is to live in spite of that burden.”


“Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.”

Art Buchwald

Finding ways to spend time during challenging periods in our lives can be difficult, and, apart from working, sometimes we may need to distract ourselves with simple rituals, perhaps uncomplicated cooking, or gardening, or whatever feels right for us.

There may be a feeling of comfort and familiarity in these rather repetitive, mechanical activities, a sense that things can be more reliable and solid.

For these are timeless, familiar, connective tasks, which may be reassuring.

For each of us, what we choose will differ according to our personalities and our individual needs.

Some people become more creative in difficult times.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” 

Brene Brown

I think that a good philosophy that might fruitfully influence how we choose to spend out time is encapsulated in the following quotation:

“Reaching beyond where you are is really important.”

Martin Seligman.

Reaching beyond is a good concept; its value lies in its acceptance of where we are individually, without pressurising us to be like others.

If we can focus on where we are, and how we can reach beyond that, then we will ensure that we are using our time to the best advantage.

  • Dancing To The Music Of Time.


Dance To The Music Of Time. Nicolas Poussin. Wikimedia Commons.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

Mother Teresa

How we dance to the music of time is very much down to us, as individuals. Deciding how we want our lives to be can be a struggle.

There are no correct answers to how out lives ‘should’ be, only individual choices.

“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.”

Katharine Hepburn

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

George Elliot

“Maturity consists in not losing the past while fully living in the present with a prudent awareness of the possibilities of the future.”

Thomas Traherne


‘The Time Machine’ by H. G. Wells (Famous Fantastic Mysteries, August 1950) Illustration by Norman Saunders

“Our memory is and always will be as good as time travel gets, and in the meantime time will do the travelling for us.”

Maria Konnikova.

Reconciling the passage of time in our lives, its finiteness, and the mysteries of the past, present and future, can be tough for all of us.

However, spending time worrying about the future is a pointless waste of time; we really do not know what is round the corner.

“What about the future?”
“We’ll talk about the future when it gets here”

Arturo Perez-Reverte

“The future doesn’t exist. The only thing that exists is now and our memory of what happened in the past. But because we invented the idea of a future, we’re the only animal that realized we can affect the future by what we do today.”

David Suzuki

50187493146_f6ab095c74_oJohn Singer Sargent – The Black Brook [c1908] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

Mornings at Blackwater

For years, every morning, I drank from Blackwater Pond. it was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt, feet of ducks.

And always it assuaged me from the dry bowl of the very far past.

What I want to say is the past is the past, and the present is what your life is, and you are capable of choosing what that will be, darling citizen.

So come to the pond or the river of your imagination or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.

Mary Oliver.

This blog is totally non profit-making. As a retired psychotherapist with over 30 years experience, I write both for my own self-expression and to help others.

If you have liked this post, I would much appreciate you showing support to me by becoming a follower of

Thank you.

© Linda Berman.


  1. Love your blogs always and look forward to them.

    If we genuinely embrace the concept of impermanence, we will be more likely to use the time we do have beneficially, for ourselves and others.… this statement of yours, Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.”
    We enjoyed many of your quotes, and this one made us both laugh out loud. Thank you for this detailed and life affirming message

    Liked by 1 person

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