Seneca – How To Manage Your Time (Stoicism)


Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman statesman
and a stoic philosopher, who recognized that if we are to live well, we must be constant
students of the greatest subject of all — life itself. In his moral essay, On the Shortness
of Life, Seneca, offers us an urgent reminder on the non-renewability of our most important
resource: our time. So, with that in mind, here are 10 of the most important insights
for time management from the writings of Seneca. 1. Treat time as a commodity
Seneca says “People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it
comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be
stingy”. Seneca cautions that we fail to treat time
as a valuable resource, even though it’s arguably our most precious and least renewable
one. Imagine walking down the street and seeing a very rich guy just throwing his money away.
You will definitely call that person was insane. And yet we see others—and ourselves—throw
away something far more valuable every day: our Time. The amount we get is uncertain but
surely limited. It’s clearly more insane to waste time than money because unlike money,
we can’t make any more when it runs out! To realize the value of one year, ask a student
who failed a grade. To realize the value of one month, ask a mother
who gave birth to a premature baby. To realize the value of one week, ask the
editor of a weekly newspaper. To realize the value of one hour, ask the
person who just missed a train. To realize the value of one second, ask the
person who narrowly avoided an accident. And to realize the value of one millisecond,
ask the person who took the Silver Medal at the Olympics. Well the amount of time we get is uncertain,
the one thing that is certain is that that time is limited. Money and property can increase
and decrease depending on luck or effort but our time is fixed. Death creeps up on time
wasters, people who assume time is cheap because when employed correctly, time becomes an amplifier.
When spent without consideration, it becomes a persistent source of regret. 2. Don’t invest your time preparing for
life According to Seneca “He who bestows all
of his time on his own needs, who plans out every day as if it were his last, neither
longs for nor fears the morrow’. We are all guilty of spending way too much
of our time preparing for life. Seneca pushes us to live right now. To not delay our happiness.
To not think that happiness lies in the future. He criticizes those who think that they can
work diligently until around age 60 when they finally retire, and can be ‘happy’. Our
future is uncertain and it’s not in your control. The life in the future you’re working
towards may never come. We are so busy and worried about the future that we often let
the present slip away, allowing time to rush past unobserved and unseized. And then when
we are old and on our deathbeds we finally realise how short and valuable life is, left
with a regret of not making the most of it when we could. Seneca compares time to a rushing stream,
that won’t always flow. If you were in the middle of a desert dying of thirst, and you
came across a stream of water but you are not sure when it would stop — wouldn’t
you drink much of it as you possibly could? Just like water, we should use as much of
our time as possiblein making the most of our present. Your 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond are all worth
planning but don’t allow them to take away the precious present. You can only live one moment at a time, and
you can only live it once, so choose to live in the moment. 3. Live life for your own self
To quote Seneca “So you must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair
and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long” We all have certain things that we want in
our life, whether it’s a dream job, a dream house, a dream relationship, or that dream
vacation. But majority of us don’t even come close to achieving many of these things
because we are stuck with the job we can’t stand just to pay the bills, or a partner
we pretend to love because we don’t want to be alone. You’re just being tossed and
turned by everything that’s coming at you, and in today’s world, there’s a lot coming
at you. We then fool our-selves by telling us that we don’t have enough time to try
new pursuits. Being busy is always your choice. Being busy with things we don’t like is
the greatest distraction from living, we routinely coast through our lives day after day, showing
up for our obligations but being absent from our selves, mistaking the doing for the being.
The best way you can invest your time is by investing in creating a life you love living.
If you don’t know what you love or what you want, then ask yourself these questions
– If I had more time, what are the things I
could do? Or
If I can change something right now around or about me, what would it be? You may realize that you want to change your
job or you want to get in shape or pursue a new hobby. You can start by waking up early
and use that extra hour for doing those things that you love.
Time is precious, and it’s ticking away for all of us. The longer you wait to start making
changes, the longer you will spend your life working to make someone else’s dream a reality. 4. Practice Premeditatio Malorum
As we learn from Seneca “While wasting our time hesitating and procrastinating, life
goes on” Procrastination occurs when a conflict between
short term gratification of impulses like to do nothing and waste time and the long
term commitments like making a sales report or editing this video is won by the former
party. In psychology this is called time inconsistency. Even though doing meaningful work over the
course of years is more important to most of us than lounging around, the human brain
has a very dated bias towards what is here and now. However, Seneca gives us a way to
fight this with a very effective and a simple method. The Stoics called it Premeditatio
Malorum. The idea behind this is to ask yourself before you do something about what can go
wrong. It’s a form of negative visualization, and once you’ve identified the distractions
or problems, you can design around them with preparation. By acknowledging distractions
beforehand, and then in response, setting a suitable time, place, and starting point,
you can bypass the allure of short-term impulses ahead of time. If you prepare yourself by
scheduling ahead whatever it is you want done, you’re two to three times more likely to
follow through. 5. Make long term rewards immediate
To Seneca “Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as
it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living
is expectancy” Our need to procrastinate is most powerful
right at the start of work. Even if you’ve removed all distractions, and you’re ready
to get to work at 8 AM — as you had planned — to your brain, the allure of finding an
excuse to do something easier is still very strong. The hardest challenge is finding a
way to make that starting effort less unpleasant. The key here is expectancy. That’s what
we crave when we want to delay something that we know benefits us. That’s the gap between
short-term impulses and a long-term reward. The reason that it’s often hard to start
something is that there is no expectation of an immediate reward. Sometimes, the reward
is years away. However if you bundle your work with the expectancy of an immediate reward,
you give yourself a good reason to start. For example, if you procrastinate by watching
youtube, you can make a deal that you’re not allowed to watch youtube until a certain
amount of work is done. This way you get rewarded by completing the unpleasant work with something
immediate. 6. Make the most of your free time
As we learn from Seneca “It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we
waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given
to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested”.
We all work hard to earn two things: money and free time that we can spend on leisure
activities. We work 8–9 hours a day so that we can earn free time, while we endlessly
waste that hard-earned free time on the most irrelevant things like drinking in the pub
with co-workers or friends, watching TV shows or just gossiping around the water cooler.
As some people point out, you have to stop and say, “No more.”
No more wasting the free time you earn Even if you enjoy your day job, keep time
spent working at a minimum. You’ll never get those overtime hours back, they are gone
forever. Most of us spend our precious one hour lunch breaks eating at our desks. Instead
we should make good of our lunch breaks. Read, write or exercise. If you work in a city,
visit a museum or gallery. Maybe start an office reading group that can meet at lunchtimes.
On weekends or on evenings when you have ample of free time, make the most of it by meditating,
reading, exercising or journaling or anything that could add a value to your life. If you
want to beat mediocrity and start living your life, then you need to start making the most
of your free time. 7. Spend time reflecting on your past
Seneca informs us “But life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past,
neglect the present, and fear the future” For Seneca, time is divided into three parts:
The present which is transitory, The future which is uncertain and
The past which is unalterable. All the modern time management lessons tell
us to focus on the present with a view to the future. They all focus on the uncertain
and transitory. Whereas Seneca tells us to pay attention to our past. If we are to extend
our life we must have enough self-awareness to remember the lessons of our past so that
we can be more effective today. When you actually take a moment to stop and think, to comb through
who you have been in the past, and really what made you that person, it’s pretty enlightening.
Reflecting on your past and doing some serious introspection does the soul good. It helps
you be present, and comprehend the changes within yourself that have occurred. Plus it
gives you a clear, focused idea of who you are today, and who you want to be tomorrow.
It even helps you take responsibility and ownership of yourself and your actions. Sometimes
it can be difficult for you to see how far you’ve come, especially if you tend to compare
yourself to others but spending time on reflecting on your past gives you the space and time
to see just how far you’ve come in life. 8. Stop wasting time in life’s trivialities
As we learn from Seneca “If such people want to know how short their lives are, let
them reflect how small a portion is their own” We are all guilty of spending way too much
of our time in trivialities. More and more of our time nowadays is spent starring at
screens, either for work or on social media, trolling through yet more status updates and
posting endless selfies. How often are we caught in giving our time to others for nothing
more than the pursuit of monetary and social profit?
Casually playing a video game with no particular merit is throwing time away, time you could
be developing a useful skill, exercising or edifying yourself with literature, art or
music. The same can be said of social media, like other open-ended forms of entertainment,
social media is designed and optimised to consume your time. If people came up to you all day asking for
20 bucks you’d tell them to get lost. But people all day long come up to you weather
in person or on the phone or via email or even sms to ask for your time. And you just
hand it on over. We must be devoted to living for ourselves, at least most of the time.
The person who says yes to everyone’s requests will soon find that they have no time of their
own, and that they are living for other people, not themselves. Those who are happy, fill
their time with activities that are valuable and meaningful to their own vision of his
life. 9. Invest your time creating new memories To quote Seneca “You have been preoccupied
while life hastens on. Meanwhile death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself
available for that” If you give a rich man money, he will try
to double his money by investing in places where he will get maximum returns. Similarly,
we should all invest our time wisely and the best returns we can get with our time is by
investing it in creating new memories and in philosophies. Seneca tells us that memory
is more enduring than grief. We spend too much of our time in chasing that makes our
short life shorter like luxuries, leisure so that once we get old, we regret not living
at all. “One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr. Thomas Gilovich,
a psychology professor at Cornell University who has been studying the question of money
and happiness for over two decades. Gilovich and other researchers have found that memories
from life experiences—as fleeting as they may be—deliver more lasting happiness than
things. Memories guide our thoughts, actions and decisions – they shape who we are. You
can start creating new memories by taking on new challenges, by spending time with people
you love, travelling, seeking new opportunities. Buying an Apple Watch isn’t gonna to change
who you are; taking a break from work to hike the Appalachian Trail from start to finish
most certainly will. We are not our possessions, but we are the accumulation of everything
we’ve seen, the things we’ve done, and the places we’ve been. 10. Invest your time in philosophies
In our final piece of wisdom from Seneca for this video we learn “Of all people only
those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only those are really alive. For they not
only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs. All the
years that have passed before them are added to their own”.
Seneca points to the study of philosophy as the only worthwhile occupation of the mind
and spirit – an invaluable teacher that helps us learn how to inhabit our own selves fully
in this “brief and transient spell” of existence and expands our short lives sideways,
so that we may live wide rather than long. Philosopher means lover of wisdom”. Philosophy
is a study of truth, virtue, life and death. Nothing in this world is permanent except
the truth. The philosopher will always seek to discover the truth of the way this world
is and what our role is within it. You can start with reading. Good books have been written
in the service of you. The knowledge and wisdom they hold is condensed time and that time
compressed into their pages adds to your time. If you enjoyed this video, please do make
sure to check out our Stoicism playlist and for more videos to help you find success and
happiness using ancient philosophical wisdom, don’t forget to subscribe. Thanks so much
for watching.

99 Replies to “Seneca – How To Manage Your Time (Stoicism)

  1. Life is long, if you know how to use it. – Seneca…Hope you all liked this video. Do subscribe for more such videos…

  2. Thank you so much for this.

    I really liked "don't invest your time preparing for life".

    That's always been a big problem of mine, having to look perfect even if I'm already done.

    Absolutely liked & subscribed.

    Thank you.

  3. "Ticking away the moments that makeup a dull day,
    You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
    Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown,
    Waiting for someone or something to show you the way. . ."
    Could it be, Seneca's 'Shortness of Life'?

  4. Why shouldn't we eat in lunch breaks? I mean come on man I also would like to never be hungry again but you know thats not possible.

  5. The study of stoicism is absolutely a waste of time unless it influences your character and decisions in all aspects. To learn stoicism is one thing to embed it into yourself is quite another.

  6. Stoicism is such a great way to find inner peace in this chaotic world we live in today. There is no question that anyone can take something from this philosophy!

  7. Philosophy is completly pointless if you are like a sheep, which doesn't care about living a better life or to do progress or be richer… cause his unique worry is living the daily routine till death.

  8. Fatal flaw of this philosophy is only live for yourself. As Jesus said it is better to give than to receive. One can never experience true hapiness through swlf indulgance. There are many great pieces of advice in tbis video and in seneca s words however it revolves around the assumption that our time is finite. It is not. Our time on earth is finite but all of our souls will exist forever. Either witj or apart from God depending on how we spend our time and how we treat our Creator and our brothers amd sister s and neighbors. Investing your time wisely in helping other people is absolutely an avenue to true hapiness. Love your Lord God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Who is yoir neighbor? Everyone on earth! Repent of all your evil doings and believe on Jesus today and see the rest of your time on this earth and beyond spent in Joy and love!

  9. TIME: There is the utility of time as a tool manifested out of the human concousiness to measure movements of events unfolding based of the planets' orbits around the sun/star. There is the cosmic arrow of time a part of the fabric of the universe, played out in the forces of vitality & entropy in thermodynamics. And there is the infinitide of timelessness echoed in the over-soul of the one-conciousness, it is the "mysterious tacit understanding" that westerners refer to as God.
    A trinity of the aspects of TIME, philosophically framed.

    Life's endless demands can definitely draw one towards the proverbial shattering the utility of time as a tool. When free from the constraints of work & no longer bound by time, one is at peace in one's own free-time; consciousness & life unfold in the freedom & relativity of the moment; which are very appealing to the individual & the most pleasurable forms of time, that of which is the most precious commodity of mortality, which is not guarrented, nor can it be lengthened with any degree of full certainty.

  10. Time is Not money. Just realise your mind. Be aware of what you think from moment to moment. No need to go somewhere. No need to be perfect. Just be present. Do less. Be simple. You are a Buddha for a second when you have equanimity and peace for a second.

  11. THANK YOU FOR CREATING THIS WONDERFUL AND EDUCATIONAL VIDEO… REVIVING THE THOUGHTS OF THE GREAT PHILOSOPHERS AND SPREADING THEIR KNOWLEDGE MUST BRING CHANGES TO SOME PEOPLE, HOPEFULLY MORE THAN EXPECTED. BEST OF LUCK!

  12. Time is of the essence.
    You are going to die one day, it is a fact, not fiction.
    You can, either sit on your ass all day and complain, whine, point fingers, masturbate, engage in mindless pleasures,
    or
    You can go out and try to find what makes you feel alive, what is it that gives you motivation, hope, something that inspires you.
    Be it pursuit of money, education, traveling, family, friends, or anything else.
    Because, you know one thing for sure, you are going to die one day, and that day can come at any moment.

  13. 12:05 – 12:10 HEY! Stop bad-mouthing instagram artists. They are a walking art! Like i am not joking, some of them are WOW.

  14. How Seneca managed his time.,, The time Seneca spent helping Nero murder his own mother must have been considerable.

  15. I love the book is condensed time analogy. Thank you for the video. This really should be taught in public school. ☮️❤️☯️

  16. 1. Treat time as a commodity
    2. Don't invest your time preparing for life. Live right now, don't delay happiness, it's now.

    3. Life life for your own self

    4. Practice premeditato malorum Short term gratification vs long term commitments. Design around distractions.

    5. Make long term rewards immediate – putting things off is biggest waste of life.
    6. Make the most of your free time.

    7. Spend time reflecting on your past.
    8. Stop wasting time of life's trivialities.

    9. Invest your time making new memories. Memory is more enduring than grief.
    10. Invest time in your philosophies. So that we can live wide rather than long.

  17. This is not philosophy, not even close.
    This just like a antony robinson video. Motivation for no reason.. every one knows time is worthy but tell me which is the best way to spent??
    My question is nothing but how to live??
    This is not philosophy this just a 10th grade motivation stuff.. bulshit, you ought change your channel name incase no plan to change the content

  18. WE are educated to become wage slave consumers. We get sucked into the mortgagee/family situation SPEND THE REST of our lives consuming and PAYING for (shit we don"t need) we are being screwed out of our pensions thats a slippery slope most people will not live long enough to claim it the government are cashing in as usual WE ARE GETTING IT UP THE ASS the SYSTEM is designed to KEEP US IN SLAVERY TILL WE TAKE OUR LAST BREATH.

  19. Very enlightening,
    i've read Seneca's Essay on shortness of life and this video really helped me to grasp it more.
    Thank you very much for your hard work

  20. Seneca died about 1700 years before retirement was a thing. And people dont work till 60 to achieve something at 60 they work to continually provide a life for themselves. Great video tho.

  21. I generally agree to most things that are said in this video and i'm not sure if this is intended, but to me this video gives off the vibes that playing videogames and watching netflix is "a waste of time" which i strongly disagree. Although i'm not saying every game and every thing on netflix is worth it's time. The amount of things i learned from videogames, movies, series and anime is very big. As somebody who is very interested in things like storytelling, worldbuilding and character creation, i can't tell how many things i learned from the above things, which in result lead to me to being able to develop new skills. The amount of general knowlage i learned about all sorts of different topics that were guiding themes or plot devices in said medium is also a big factor. As a example, If i would've never played the older God of War games i probably would've never looked up Greek Mytholgy.

  22. As Jordan Peterson says, learn to negotiate with yourself. Treat yourself like your sibling, parent or best friend. You wouldn't want bad things for the people dear to you, so why do it to yourself. Break the Tyrant-slave relationship with your ego telling you that you MUST do this work now and form a negotiating process in which you determine what work you are willing to do for what reward.

  23. Good content, but the tone of the narration is a bit annoying. It's a little too urgent and dramatic for my taste. Ironically, I found it to be somewhat distracting. The information itself, however, is valuable. So, thanks!

  24. Nah, when you are old you realize that just about everything is bs, and what is not bs is rare or it does not exist in any meaningful quantities. There is just that much this world and its people can give you and it is not much, and to receive whatever little there is you must numb or sellout yourself.

  25. Some wonderful advice here, but for people who work 9-5, 8-9 hour days … packing in an activity during lunch is just not realistic. In all fairness, the 9-5 job and the capitalist driven obsessions we have need to go. More and more people are working casual hours now, working less and doing better things with their time. Finding a balance often means a change of lifestyle.

  26. Yea well Seneca didn't have mortgage to pay or a thesis to finish in 3 years so he could find a good job that pays well so you don't end up on the street and live life on the spot and philosophy about how life sucks

  27. Nihilist say Hi. Honestly in the end what does it really matter how you spent your time? Whether you squandered it or whether you were diligent, after you die there simply is no ‘you’ to care one way or another. So do what you feel you want and need to do. It’s a game you can not lose nor can you win, cause when the whistle blows to end the game of life you won’t be there to even see the final score.

  28. Time is a man made concept and for some of us oldies who have retired from the rat race and have enough to live comfortably and have no ambitions or desires left and are happy with the life we have lived and live and do not fear death though are ready for it, time has no relevance or meaning and we certainly do live in the now just as we please with no demands o ourselves or from others. It is freedom.

  29. How do you distinguish the here and now from living in the moment? Isn't living in the moment often marketed as doing the here and now – Netflix, burgers, cigs?

  30. Aren't memories a sort of commodity these days? People sell experiences which are then placed onto social media. The memory is archived or even achieved via instagram, "look I'm hiking the appallachians"

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