AQ&A Topic 6 Date: 16 October 2017 : Is Time Wasting a Waste of Time?


Focus questions


(feel free to add more of these) . Clearly not all of these questions can be properly covered in a meetup, but they give us a conscious choice about what to talk about while making the background context clearer.


1. How much of your life do you want organized and how much just 'letting it happen'? Why?


2. Titles like 'The habits of highly successful people' make up a whole category of publication now. Are these self-help writings just a con, or do they really lead people to change their own lives by eliminating 'wasted time'.


3. What do you think of this idea: that the best test of compatability between two people is that they agree about what is a waste of time.


4. What wastes more of your time than anything else? Why is it a waste of time, and what can you do about it?


5. Is wasting a bit of time sometimes a good way to be creative? What is your evidence?


6. Under extreme conditions like concentration camps or prisoner of war camps, the individuals who survive are usually highly organized in their personal routines and mental management. For example, there is a record of one man in solitary confinement who "built" an entire house, day by day, beam by beam, in his imagination. Do these survivors have somethng useful to teach the rest of us, or is this level of self-organization usually a bad idea?


7. For most of human existence humans lived in bands or villages where for thousands of years they kept on doing things in much the same (often) inefficient ways. What were some key changes in personal lives that broke this cycle and led to the extremely organized daily experience we have now?


8. There is a common idea that single individuals tend to lead chaotic lives, but that marriage turns them into responsible organized people with clear goals who can "achieve something". How true is this meme?


9. In one short life, we may have to choose priorities and pay an opportunity cost by missing other options. If we make the wrong choice according to our values, we have wasted our time. How often does this happen? What are some major examples of this kind of problem?


10. On the last day of your life, what would you consider to be a wasted life? Why?





Thor May


"Into this Universe, and Why not knowing,

Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:

And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,

I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing".

- The Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam ( ). Omar Kayyam, 1048-1131 AD, was a mathematician, astronomer and poet, one of the brightest minds of his age. We know him now for his Rubaiyat, a wry tale in verse on the futility of human ambition and self-importance. ||| "Some for the Glories of This World; and some

Sigh for the Prophet’s Paradise to come;

Ah, take the Cash, and let the Promise go,

Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!"



Thor May

The average life is about 30,000 days. How many do you have left? A big chunk of those days is "lost" in sleep, but if we cheat the time wasted in sleep, do we really save time? This year's Nobel Prize in medicine provides part of the answer:

Thor May

"87% of [American] people wake up and go to bed with their smart phone" .. Does your smart phone own your mind and your time? - " 'Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia - Google, Twitter and Facebook workers who helped make technology so addictive are disconnecting themselves from the internet. Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks alarmed by a race for human attention" @

Thor May

Nothing so divides personalities as the meaning of time:

"In Defense of Wasting Time" - By Tory Syracuse @

"The ant and the grasshopper" Aesop @

"The ant and the grasshopper" W. Somerset Maugham [a subversive interpretation] @

Thor May

When the Internet was still a baby, in the 1990s, I put a form question on my (now ancient) website, http:/ , asking: "a) what is the most important question in your life?; b) when do you expect to get an answer to that question?" Many, many people replied. For part a) most asked "Why am I here; why was I born?". For part b) most had no answer. To me it seemed a waste of time to agonize over a question that had no credible answer. So I don't ask hopelessly "Why am I here?". I always ask "How does it work? - your smart phone, the human brain, the universe .." I am never bored asking how things work, and never feel that my time has been wasted by asking. How about you?

Thor May

Another take on (not) wasting time: "Being Well Means Not Wasting Time" | Matthew Dewar | TEDx -

Thor May

"What exactly is wasted time?" by Trent Hamm at - a useful summary of a tricky question. An even harder question is whether we should try to change someone's ideas about what is a waste of their time [... this meetup has not been brilliant at that :) ]

Thor May

"Today has lasted for 4 billion and 2 years, 6 hours, 12 minutes and 13.5 seconds " at - a little poem I wrote in 1973, and was astonished years later when an Indian journalist asked if she could publish it in The Hindu newspaper (daily circulation 1.4 million).


Convenor: Thor May thormay@yahoo.com

Adelaide Question & Answer Meetup


 >> Note: mailouts by (such as changing a topic etc) are often sent to the spam/trash bin by email programs like Yahoo, Gmail etc. Always check your email trash or spam bins before deleting the contents. [If you are clever, you can also change the filter on these email programs to allow emails from certain sources]


1. All past topic questions are now listed at

 2. From another meetup I run for English learners, twenty-four sets of 10x questions (from Thor) designed for students of  English as a Second Language are online at


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