Alive Time or Dead Time?

There’s a concept from Robert Greene and Ryan Holiday called alive time or dead time. It’s a simple concept that relates to how you’re spending your time.

We can spend our time in one of two ways, passively (dead time), where we’re just zoning out and letting life happen to us, or actively (alive time), where we’re learning, trying new things, and consciously choosing how to spend our time.

Alive time is reading, learning, working out, planning for the future.

Dead time is mindlessly watching TV, scrolling through social media, playing with apps on your phone. It’s a distraction and is concerned with wasting time until something better happens to us.

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.”


Time is one thing in life that we can never get back, so why do we want to kill it? We must use our time wisely. Fill those small moments with as much as you can and you’ll be amazed at what you can get done.

For example, keep a book with you and you could read a page whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Keep a pen and paper near you and you could jot down ideas, observations or thoughts whilst waiting for your food to arrive. Take the stairs when ever you can to get in some extra exercise. Transform even the shortest, most mundane moments into opportunities for growth.

“A man who dares to waste an hour of time has not discovered the value of life”.

Charles Darwin

The Stoic’s said that we cannot control what happens to us, we can only control our reaction to it. Instead of complaining about a situation, is there something you can learn from it?

The next time you’re waiting for a train, instead of complaining that you have to wait so long, choose to use that time well. Rather than killing time, be thankful that you have the time to learn something or the time to call a friend or family member you’ve been meaning to call. Don’t see it as dead time, see it as an opportunity.

Never forget how precious your time really is, use it wisely. Where can you find moments of alive time in your life?

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3 thoughts on “Alive Time or Dead Time?

  1. Just read this article again and it resonates so much! Whilst being stuck inside over the last 12 months, I’ve developed a habit of mindlessly scrolling on my phone… this is a great reminder that time is not an infinite resource!!

    Liked by 1 person

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