A Lesson in Time Management

Game of Thrones, as a show, may be one of the greatest equalizers of our generation. No matter who you talk to, everyone loves Game of Thrones. I once observed what I stereotypically assumed was a computer science geek working as a grocery store checker wax poetic to a muscle head customer about the intricacies of the latest Game of Thrones season. Ten years ago, this tank-top wearing lothario probably stuffed this pocket protecting future app inventor in a locker. But now these two couldn’t be more enthralled in their conversation. In fact, they were so enthusiastic about their newfound commonality, that in an effort to get out of Trader Joe’s before they started talking about next season, I began bagging my own groceries.

I’m serious when I say with the amount of common ground that seemingly polar opposites have found with this show, they should start making politicians watch it together before partaking in bi-partisan talks. They should make China watch it with the US before trade negotiations. They should make India watch it with Pakistan before they make decisions on the Kashmir, and they should make Putin watch it with, well anyone.

But full disclosure – I haven’t watched a single episode. All this observation is without any context for the greater plot of the show. How, do you ask, can a man who sees the obvious reaction to this show, not be in the least bit interested? It’s for that very reason that I abstain from even giving it a try.

I have no doubt that I’d love Game of Thrones, and would descend straight into binge-watching, should I allow myself a single taste of episode one. For a guy who grew up on movies like

Braveheart, Gladiator, Last of the Mohicans, and Rob Roy, I’m sure I’d be hooked. But here’s the reality of going down that rabbit hole. There are eight seasons of GOT, for a total of 73 episodes. At an hour each, that’s 73 hours of time spent to complete the series, and that’s if I do zero rewatching (which seems doubtful as apparently the complexity of the show is unparalleled). In the course of a lifetime three days of straight GOT viewing doesn’t seem substantial, but I think about what can be accomplished in 73 hours. At two hours a day of working out, that’s five weeks of hard-nosed training. A committed individual could be well on their way to learning a new language with that time. Maybe not fluent, but well on their way. 73 hours spent with your spouse or significant other could get you to know them on a deeper level. You get the picture.

And it doesn’t stop with GOT. Think of anything you spend time viewing. Sports, other shows, random Youtube videos, pick your poison. And it’s not just screen time. Books, for the sake of this lesson, can be a dangerous game too if we allow ourselves to be consumed by them too often. The point is, we watch these shows and sports, or read these stories, to feel good, to live vicariously through the characters we like the most. But at what cost? I’ll tell you, at the cost of being those people ourselves. We constantly use lack of time as an excuse for not being the people we want to be, so instead we choose to watch the people we want to be. Eventually, however, our time becomes nothing but watching others live the life we thought we were destined for.

Now, before diehard GOT fans pen nasty responses to this little thought, I’m not actually suggesting you deny yourself the thrill and entertainment of shows like GOT, or cancel NFL Redzone. I’ve obviously oversimplified this analogy to bring to the forefront a much more interesting way to look at how you spend your time. If we want to accomplish things, conquer our fears, or experience this world, we have to put down the remote or the book, at some point, and pick up the sword. Let’s see if maybe the next show made is inspired by your life. Is that really so crazy?

“Many people read books, few people write books, but fewer still have books written about them.”