Benjamin Spall

Don’t Waste Time on Nonsense

Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor from 161 AD up until his death in 180, implores us (or rather, himself) in his Meditations “Not to waste time on nonsense.”

How true is that? Of course, what is nonsense to me may not be nonsense to you, and vice versa. And what any of us believe to be the nonsense we’re wasting our time on now may later turn out to be important after all.

With that said, there are certain activities (such as refreshing Twitter or Facebook for the tenth time in the past half hour) that are, unless you work for either of these companies, unquestionably nonsense. Later in Meditations (all quotations are coming from the excellent Gregory Hays translation) Marcus goes on to remind us (himself) about the importance of character and self-control, noting: “Remembering that our own worth is measured by what we devote our energy to,” and “Do external things distract you? Then make time for yourself to learn something worthwhile; stop letting yourself be pulled in all directions.”

Stop letting yourself be pulled in all directions; don’t waste time on nonsense. Easier said than done, but a high and worthy ideal to take into this new year all the same. ∎

Benjamin Spall is the co-author of My Morning Routine (Portfolio/Penguin). He has written for outlets including the New York Times, New York Observer, Quartz, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, CNBC, and more.

How to Reference this Article

Spall, B. (2017, December 29). Don’t Waste Time on Nonsense. Retrieved from