How to Spend Time

In a letter to a girl named Sarah, C. S. Lewis wrote the following about how to spend your time:

Remember that there are only three kinds of things anyone need ever do. (1) Things we ought to do (2) Things we’ve got to do (3) Things we like doing. I say this because some people seem to spend so much of their time doing things for none of the three reasons, things like reading books they don’t like because other people read them. 

He goes on to elaborate a bit, detailing the "ought" as our duties and obligations, the "got" as our practical needs, and, of course, pointing out that he has no idea what Sarah likes to do.

If at first it seems too simple, try finding fault with it. It's actually quite sensible, and what is ridiculous instead is how much time we spend doing things that fall into none of these categories. Lewis himself uses the example of reading books we don't like just because they're popular, but in the Internet age I suspect more common examples would be mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds when there's nothing going on, or binge watching a show you don't particularly enjoy on Netflix just because you're bored.

If our time is valuable in its scarcity (and it is, for we are vapor and will soon return to dust), we would do well to heed Lewis' advice here. Let us do what we are required to do, do what we need to do, and do what we like. Anything more than this is from the evil one.

P.S. This is only tangentially related to the main point of this post, but I feel like this bit from The Screwtape Letters is worth quoting here as well (recalling that a demon speaks this, referring to God as "the Enemy"):

If the Enemy appeared to [your patient] in bodily form and demanded that total service for even one day, he would not refuse. He would be greatly relieved if that one day involved nothing harder than listening to the conversation of a foolish woman; and he would be relieved almost to the pitch of disappointment if for one half-hour in that day the Enemy said “Now you may go and amuse yourself.” Now if he thinks about his assumption for a moment, even he is bound to realise that he is actually in this situation every day.