When I was a kid, my father told me something that has more or less fucked me up for life: “Time is more valuable than money. You can always earn more money, but it’s impossible to get more time.” It was a valuable lesson that I appreciate having had, but now, every time I do anything at all, there’s a little voice in the back of my head reminding me just how expensive whatever I’m doing actually is:
Lying in bed surfing OKCupid and watching an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that you’ve been re-watching since you were 11, huh? Well, that is a bold choice, Truman. You, with full knowledge that you have a limited amount of time to accomplish everything you’ve ever wanted to do in life, have decided to spend some of that precious time doing this.
Because, of course, that extra two hours is what’s going to decide whether I spend my career writing a television series or a series of increasingly violent video game trailers that occasionally air on television. It’s stupid, but that’s still where my mind goes – dutifully tallying up every wasted second and reminding me that I’ll never get them back.
Because there’s so much less of it, weekend time is way more valuable than weekday time. Since I’ve started working again – and working a lot, recently – I’ve started to cherish my weekends so much that now I spend a certain amount of them just actively appreciating the fact that it’s the weekend:
“Okay. It is currently Saturday morning at 10:48 AM. This is what Saturday morning feels like. You’ve waited all week to feel the way you are currently feeling. ENJOY THIS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE WHY ARE YOU NOT ENJOYING IT MORE!?” This way, on Monday, when I’m glumly sitting in my cubicle wondering how I let all that incredibly valuable time go to waste, I can at least know I appreciated it while I had it.
The end of Daylight Saving Time is one of the three occasions where my Dad’s lesson doesn’t apply – the other two require either time travel or Indiana travel. After spending the rest of the year helplessly watching time pass me by, it’s exhilarating to get a whole hour refunded courtesy of the government. But it’s also pretty overwhelming, because I usually forget that it’s coming.
The end of Daylight Saving Time caught me by surprise last year. It was, for me, a fairly typical Saturday night – I’d started the evening with high hopes of getting a bunch of writing done, catching up on some shows I’d been meaning to binge watch, maybe stepping out for a drink with a friend. And just like most other Saturday nights, I instead wound up playing video games all evening.
At some point I glanced away from the game and saw that it was 1:59 AM, and I had to actually pause the game so I could devote my full attention to hating myself. This is exactly the reason you’re never going to succeed, Truman. I thought, staring at the glowing numbers on my clock radio.You wasted six perfectly good hours on a video game while every writer you're competing with for jobs probably spent them diligently honing their craft.
I was really getting my self loathing into gear when the time on the clock changed from 1:59 AM back to 1:00 AM. I froze, thinking very seriously that I had gained the ability to travel back in time by being unhappy.
A second later I remembered that it was just the end of Daylight Saving Time – but either way, I’d gotten one of my wasted hours back! This was my second chance! Maybe I couldn’t salvage the entire evening, but at least I could spend this one hour in a more productive way than I had the last five.
I was overwhelmed by options – would I work on a blog? A script? Maybe there was a really important article I should be reading. And I’d promised multiple people I’d read their scripts; maybe I should be using this hour to do that.
The sheer number of choices for how to spend my bonus hour were so overwhelming that I decided to play my video game for a couple more minutes to clear my head. And then, about an hour and fifteen minutes later, it occurred to me that not only had I wasted a perfectly good evening, but also a perfectly good shot at redemption.
With last year’s failure fresh in my mind, I resolved to do a better job this time around. And this year was definitely an improvement, because I remembered that I was going to get an extra hour the day before it happened, giving me some time to strategize about how I was going to spend my extra time. Ultimately I decided to use that extra hour to get a bunch of writing done on a project that I felt like I never had enough time to work on.
Saturday was a busy day. I started early, I was out and about all day, and I got back home close to midnight. I was pretty tired as I stumbled in the door of my apartment, but I knew I had work to do and was excited for the opportunity to make Daylight Saving Time work for me. Before I got to work, though, I decided to lie down on my bed for just one second to clear my head.
I’ll admit that when I woke up Sunday morning, lying in the exact same position, I once again had to devote all of my attention to hating myself. For somebody who spends so much time fretting about time, I’m pretty careless with what little extra time I get. But as the morning wore on I was able to start to forgive myself. After all, I was still up an hour earlier than I am most Sundays. I wound up spending the morning doing laundry and vacuuming my room for the first time in God knows how long, and I felt so good after a full night’s sleep that it didn’t even really feel like a chore to me.
Spending that extra hour sleeping just might have been the most productive thing I could’ve done. Maybe I should be spending more time asleep.