The “Art Of” Using Time Well: An Eastern professor explores how we can plan our time usage.

Pursue the enjoyments which are of good repute; for pleasure attended by honor is the best thing in the world, but pleasure without honor is the worst. (Isocrates, Letter to Demonicus)

All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. (the Apostle Paul: 1 Corinthians 6.12; 10.23)

There are better and worse—wise and not-so-wise—ways to do many things, even those that are worth doing. Since time must be used—life must be lived—an aspect of prudence, which we follow Josef Pieper in defining as “the art of making the right decision based on the corresponding reality” (1989, 52), is learning to use time well, wisely, in better ways.

One aspect of time is that in order to live we must rest. We often think of rest in terms of “time off”, which to many means relaxing, often in front of a screen. A useful question to ask our selves, especially before a weekend or other “break” in the routine of work—those times that we think of as “off” or “restful”—is this:

Think about ways that you like to rest that are good for your body and your soul. How do you plan to spend your [weekend, vacation, break, time off] well? Think about this for five to eight minutes, then write a brief list of specific things that you can plan to do. (I am indebted to my friend Madeleine Hewitt for suggesting this)

Other images may help you think about how you might answer this question, e.g., restoration: “What restores (renews, rebuilds, re-creates) your body and soul?” Budziszewski (“Intermezzo”) might ask “What recalibrates your baloney-meter?”, a question that sounds different, but—read through the lens offered by Pieper—is essentially the same.

It may also be helpful to ask our spouse or a close friend how they would answer this question for us—they may have insights to which we are blind. Those blind spots tend to be habits, automatic patterns of behaviour that we do not recognize as patterns because they are “just what [we] do”. Stopping to think beforehand about how we might use what time we have can help us pre-organize our “breaks” so that they are truly rest-filled and restorative.


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