This article should have been written and finished hours ago.

Didn't happen. I came home later than I expected, checked my emails, ate a late lunch and then settled down to write. Things weren't flowing right away so I made a quick phone call, chatted a bit with my wife and then headed out to pick up the kids from school. Half a day blown and nothing constructive to show for it.

Happens to most of us at times, instead of doing something useful we putter away our life over a series of inconsequentials. TV, pulp fiction and the internet all compete to distract people's attention from the dramas of real life.

After wasting time there is no second wind or adrenalin rush, just a sad, sinking feeling of depressionI know that nobody's perfect and that Rest & Relaxation are an essential component of any purposeful existence, but we can all recognize the difference between relaxing and time-wasting. 'Chilling out' between jobs helps you find energy for the next task, but after wasting time there is no second wind or adrenalin rush, just a sad, sinking feeling of depression.

Other times I suffer from a malaise of a different disorder. I wake early and get straight into it. Too busy to plan or ponder, I spend all day rushing from job to job. I'm active, but am I productive? At the end of a long day I look back in shame and disbelief; I might have occupied the time, but what has been gained from my scurrying? My day was filled, but was it fulfilled?

Abraham's Example

Our forefather Abraham is described as being "advanced in days."1 Commentators explain that every moment of his every day was productive and fulfilling. Even his early years before discovering G‑d and inventing Judaism counted towards his heavenly scorecard. Time spent learning or preparing is not wasted, and the trials and tribulations that he had to overcome were really staging points on his journey through life. As long as you're gaining and growing, your days are advancing.

But I'm not like that; some of my time wasting is truly purposeless. The mindless tedium, the minutia of misspent days doesn't even qualify to be considered. Nothing ventured, definitely nothing gained.

How and why do I allow myself to squander so many of life's opportunities, and what can I do to bring the dwindling minutes of my life back under my control?

My Minutes Matter

Time wasting is symptomatic of a lack of self-belief. We allow ourselves to waste time because we're not truly convinced that what we do really matters so much. When I postpone for tomorrow that which I could and should be doing today, I demonstrate a lack of appreciation for my mission.

The trick is to persuade oneself that life, death and the universe do depend on the decisions I make nowAbraham was starting a religion. He had one life to get it right and he knew that posterity would be the ultimate judge of his efforts. From this perspective, everything mattered. A second saved is a lifetime earned, and future existence depends on filling and fulfilling the present.

Yet in our own lives we allow the insidious charm of laziness to creep under our guard. Because I don't really believe that I'm in the big leagues, I don't practice enough or plan sufficiently in advance, and I allow my attention to wander away from the main game.

The trick is to persuade oneself that life, death and the universe do depend on the decisions I make now. My fate and the future of my community and family hang in the daily balance. My life is teetering on the edge of a precipice, staring down into a chasm of despair. If I relax or surrender, I'll plummet, but if I can stay strong and keep the faith; fill my quota and come back for more, then I justify my existence and might just demonstrate that my time was well spent.