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Five Reasons to Indulge in Wasting Time

What has come to be known as wasting time is, in fact, an invaluable gift.
Photo: Shutterstock

It was an ordinary Sunday—or at least it started that way. As an accountant with a looming deadline for a financial statement and 20 personal tax returns to complete, my day was meticulously planned out. I woke at the crack of dawn, filled with determination to tackle the tasks that lay ahead and be ahead of schedule.

However, life, as it often does, had a different plan. My wife, waking at a more leisurely 9 am, had a simple request. “Hon, can you drive me to Saskatoon Farm? I have some muffins to pick up.” I let out a sigh, masked my growing panic at the thought of rescheduling my work, and agreed to her request.

Then came a detour for breakfast at Phil’s. And a spontaneous trip to the annual Lilac Festival that was taking place on our street. And just as I thought I could return to my work, my college-age son woke up late and needed a ride back to school. 

Time, it seemed, was slipping away.

About to scream, “Stop wasting my time,” I paused. Suddenly, I was transported back to my younger days, bombarded with the echoes of my mother’s disapproving voice. “You failed your high school exams. You failed every accounting exam you’ve taken. You’re such a loser. Stop wasting time.” 

Despite 30 years of physical separation, it felt as though my mom was standing right in front of me, her voice laced with fiery rebuke. 

In the midst of the chaos, a realization dawned.  Immersed in the happiness my family and life with them has brought me and the love we share, I recalled a quote from one of my favorite childhood books: Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince.

“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it. It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important. I am who I am, and I have the need to be. The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”

That day, amid unexpected detours and incessant interruptions, I was reminded that what has come to be known as “wasting time” is, in fact, an invaluable gift—one that we should all embrace routinely—even when it seems inopportune. When we “waste time,” we:

  • Connect with the People Around Us – Whether it’s a spontaneous breakfast with our partner or a drive across town with our child, these are the moments that deepen our relationships. When we set aside our immediate tasks and engage fully with our loved ones, we create memories that often prove to be more valuable than any material possession or accomplishment.  Time spent with loved ones is never wasted.
  • Live in the Moment – In the hustle and bustle of life, we often become slaves to our schedules, losing sight of the present moment. But when we allow ourselves to “waste time,” we live in the moment, noticing our surroundings, savoring our experiences, appreciating simple pleasures.  As mindfulness experts point out, this enhances our quality of life.
  • Invest in Self-Care – Constantly chasing deadlines can lead to burnout and stress. By seemingly “wasting time,” we give ourselves permission to slow down and relax, which is crucial for buffering the demands of daily life and maintaining our mental and physical wellbeing.  
  • Foster Creativity – Great ideas often emerge when our minds are allowed to wander. By stepping away from our immediate tasks and giving ourselves the freedom to simply think or daydream, we can unlock our creative potential.
  • Gain Perspective – Time spent away from our work allows us to reflect on our lives from a broader perspective. We can reassess our priorities, redefine our goals, and gain valuable insights into what truly matters to us.

As I sat back down at my desk that day, late in the afternoon, I felt a profound sense of fulfillment. I was grateful for the reminder that the value of my day should not solely depend on the number of financial statements I prepare or tax returns I complete. It’s also about the laughter, shared moments, and memories I create with my loved ones.

Indeed, the most beautiful things in the world are not seen or touched but felt with the heart.

About The Author
Emil Rem

Emil Rem is a creative nonfiction writer, an eccentric accountant, and an advocate for overcoming the odds. An Ismaili Muslim originally from Tanzania, he has faced—and overcome—daunting circumstances all his life, from being raised in foster care in England to emigrating to Canada as a young adult. He is the author of Heart of New York and Chasing Aphrodite and has more books in the works. His mission in sharing his stories is to instill hope and inspire people to choose action, resilience, hope, and determination for overcoming even the tallest of odds, undaunted.