Living lightly is not only a matter of reducing material possessions but also not crowding my time with trivia. By virtue of my personality, I enjoy the challenge of saving time. Sometimes this means doing things faster or multitasking. Of course there are pros and cons to speed and efficiency. It takes time to play, pray, and nurture relationships but appreciating people, beauty, and life are important. It’s tricky to find a good balance. As we prepare for Christmas gatherings, may we use our time well, saving time for relationships is not wasteful.

My own family dug into this challenge of saving vs wasting time at our December family conference call. I asked, “What practices save you time and what practices waste your time?”

  • Daughter: Waste – researching things to buy on the internet.
  • Me: Waste – Facebook, waiting (in lines or for tech support), looking for lost stuff, shopping, computer glitches). Save – multitasking (organize my files, GPS, googling information)
  • Husband: Waste – napping, BUT Save – getting up early because I can nap during the day
  • Son #3: Waste – video games. Save – skipping breakfast
  • Son #1: Save – buying groceries online. Waste – when online vendor makes a mistake
  • Son #2: Save – playing video games (by interspersing something that is relaxing with doing work, I’m more efficient at my work, which saves me time in the long run.) Waste – sleep. I hate sleeping. It wastes too much of each day.

This conversation heightened my awareness of time wasters/savers that occurred during the next 2 weeks. For example:
TIME WASTERS came in several categories:

  • Stupid Mistakes – I didn’t realize that putting soybeans in a plastic container in the microwave for 15 minutes would burn the soybeans and melt the plastic. Click to enlarge photos.
  • Unavoidable delays – Booking a trip to India took about 20 minutes of human contact and 2+ hours of intermittent time on hold. It’s a long story. 🙁
  • Unproductive time
    – Accidents. My car was rear-ended. It wasn’t my fault but it still took a lot of time to deal with insurance companies and the repair shop. I hadn’t scheduled an accident into my week.
    – Researching purchases: I needed new fitted sheets for my twin mattresses plus I wanted a contour rug to fit around our toilet. We have very usable but older twin mattresses, but,  manufacturers have gone to thicker mattresses and thus deep pocket sheets. Also our 30 year old toilet base is too large for the contour toilet rugs. After spending about 5 hours visiting stores and searching online I came up smarter but empty handed.


  • Reduce phone calls: The National Do Not Call Registry blocks many calls but does not apply to charities, political calls, and surveys. To block other landline calls just wait for the dial tone, Dial 1160, and follow the instructions.
  • Reduce email: Since I sign a lot of online petitions, I also get on too many political email lists. Gmail conveniently puts these in the Promotional tab but too quickly that can add up to 1000 emails. I periodically unsubscribe to all but the most vital ones to me.
  • Reduce Facebook posts: I like to keep abreast of family, friends, and causes on Facebook, but it can become a time hog. I block all ads and recipes. I also use Social Fixer to filter phrases like Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Mother’s Day.
  • Multi-tasking: Use phone hold time to check emails and Facebook Use exercise and walking time to listen to podcasts or radio. Use TV time to fold laundry. Use time waiting in lines to pray for the people around me or meditate rather than fuming.

1. The old maxim, “Haste makes waste” is true.
2. Since I can’t control the world or avoid all accidents, cultivate patience and perspective.
3. Sometimes saving time isn’t worth it. Make time to read, think, laugh, exercise, and pray.
4. Slow down enough to be mindful of the people and places around me.
5. Don’t lose stuff. Easier said than done. Having less stuff makes what I do have easier to keep track of. Organizing stuff takes time but makes it easier to find later. Being conscious of my movements can help, but who is always totally present to the moment? Bottom line: Chill!