“My life has no meaning.”

“Thank you…now my life has no meaning.”

“What the h*** am I supposed to do now?”

“Life officially sucks.”

I read these statements in regard to a recent national tragedy. Which one? The financial crisis? The execution of Americans oversees? The Iraqi war? No, none of those. This was the event that devastated our entire country earlier this week: the Netflix blackout of 2014.

Seriously.

Netflix outage

The map of a country devastated by an unexpected Netflix blackout. The outage began in the NE but quickly spread across the country.

And there were more. Like this man who wrote, “This is B*** S*** Netflix, I just started my free trial and I better get credit for this loss of time.” Or this was written by a woman, “The kids are gone, [name] is away and now I have nothing to do while I’m home alone.”

I know some of the responses were tongue and cheek, but I also know far too many of them were far too serious. In the first hour of the black out, there were over 10,000 posted comments on the one site I visited. Many of those people were angry, hurt and — yes, I’m saying it — despondent over the loss of Netflix.

Coincidentally, I picked up a magazine two days ago that featured some of TVs hottest shows. In one article, the author did a comparison of the amount of time it takes to watch an entire series on DVD or Netflix (or Hulu or Amazon Prime etc…) versus other activities. It caught my eye immediately, because one of my favorite shows, NCIS, was listed in the top-5.

I was enjoying the piece until I read this line in the article: In the time it takes to watch all 11 seasons of NCIS, you could earn your airline pilot’s license. Seriously? I could be a licensed pilot today if I had taken those 44-minute blocks and studied to fly instead of watching Gibbs smack Dinozzo on the back of the head?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big advocate of down-time, and taking intentional time to rest. I don’t have a problem with watching a show, enjoying a movie or reading a book or taking a nap. Rest is important. What I do work on in my own life, is making sure that “taking a rest” or “having down time” doesn’t become the thrust of my life. In other words, when Netflix goes down, I want my life to still have meaning, I want to still have a plan for what I’m going to do, and I surely don’t want the suckiness of life to hinge on whether or not I can see if Ducky’s most recent autopsy solves the crime or not.

But more importantly, this Netflix outage begs the question: What are you doing with your spare time? How are you and I investing the precious hours God has given us?

Every September I like to take time to recalibrate my life. I take the 30-days of the month to refocus on a number of areas including my health, my spiritual growth, my professional growth and, especially, how I manage my time. I usually attack the month with a pretty sharp laser-like focus and eliminate a lot of mental clutter, in order to tackle projects/dreams/goals/ideas with a little extra intentionality. Like running, I usually dread the oncoming month, but — like running — I’m always thankful for the results when I’m finished.

This September is no different. I’m gearing up for 30 days of extra focus and I’m eliminating some things that hinder my effort. Look for my detailed list to emerge in this blog before the end of August, and I would love your feedback. What about you? Could you use a little more intentionality in your life? What would it look like for you to shave a little time here or there, in order to achieve something significant?

My friend Danny Ray has always heralded a 15-minute time-management plan. Work on something for 15 minutes at a time and see what you can get done. Rotate between projects and tasks and see what you can accomplish, 15 minutes at a time. In the book, The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy states that in 20 minutes a day, you can become an expert at a task in just a couple of years. (Imagine moving from 20 minutes a day to 60 minutes a day…your mastery increases at a rapid pace!) Basically, taking advantage of our time, in bite-sized chunks, is crucial to developing influence in the world around us.

I’ve started working on a few pretty simple card tricks. Danny Ray, a world-class illusionist, recommended a book for beginners like me, and I’ve started chipping away at it, 20-minutes a night. After a couple of months I’ve learned how to do a pretty impressive shuffle, three fairly decent card tricks and I’ve found another way to connect with the people for whom I speak at camp each week. No, I’m not working on becoming a world-class magician, but by harnessing just 20 minutes out of my daily schedule, I’m learning a new skill and enjoying a hobby.

How could you fine-tune the minutes of your life to learn something new? Let’s take it a step further — how could you harness 20 minutes a day in order to make a bigger impact in the world around you? Most full-length TV shows are between 42-44 minutes long, so what would it look like for you to take those minutes each day, and direct them towards something more productive like…Writing a letter? Learning a skill? Reading your Bible? Preparing a meal for someone else? Visiting the elderly or those in a hospital? Exercising? Writing a book? (If you wrote for 20-minutes a day, you could easily write a book in six months!)

Let’s harness our time to make the most out of the life that God has given us. If you want to join me on your own 30-day journey in September, please do! And please let me know so that I can encourage you (and you can encourage me!) throughout the month. The effectiveness of the Overboard Life will be multiplied when you capture the loose minutes of your day and make them even more valuable. Then you can enjoy things like Netflix in the proper place, and if there is another service blackout…your life will still have great meaning!

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!

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One Response to “My life has no meaning.”

  1. dannyray says:

    Great challenge for the day Joe. That is one amazing shuffle!

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