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Tim Elmore

On Leading the Next Generation

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Students Who Invest Their Time Instead of Wasting It

Every one of us has a choice to make when it comes to our time. And since most of us have more time on our hands these days, it’s important to reflect on this topic. We can:

1. Waste our time. We find things to do to kill time or amuse ourselves.

2. Spend our time. We use our time on tasks to maintain the status quo.

3. Invest our time. We leverage our time to improve current realities.

The truth is none of these three activities are inherently wrong. Sometimes we just need to relax and kill time. We need to let our hair down and decompress. It feels like we are wasting time because we don’t have a tangible goal in mind when accomplishing a task.

We also need to spend time doing laundry, washing dishes, taking the trash out, and caring for other maintenance items just for upkeep. Life has a way of keeping us humble by requiring most people to tend to such tasks. It’s not glitzy, but it’s necessary.

The best time is leveraged, however, when we find ways to invest it. Just like money, when time is invested well, it multiplies. Things get better. People make progress. Life moves forward. When we invest our time, it pays dividends, either to us or for other people. There is a great benefit.

Throughout history, humankind moved forward when people figured out how to invest their time wisely. Think about the industrial revolution. For centuries, people worked their farms, caring for crops or cattle manually. It was a long and arduous process. Then, machinery was invented and progress was made to make work more efficient.

But fewer people invest time than waste it or spend it. 

How Students Are Investing Their Time

In times like these, most of us are working from home, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. And most of us are recognizing how much time is wasted merely watching TV shows, movies, or YouTube videos. But some students are finding ways to invest their time.

Liam Elkind was a junior in college when he was sent home from school due to the coronavirus. When he discovered elderly shut-ins were short on food (and couldn’t get out), he took food to 83-year-old Carol Sterling. From this, Liam and a friend launched an initiative called Invisible Hands, where 1,300 volunteers were mobilized in 72 hours to provide food and human contact and comfort (at a safe distance, of course) to shut-ins. He’s being a good neighbor.

Ashley Lawrence is a college student who’s studying education for the deaf and hearing impaired. She feels interpreting medical information during this pandemic is stressful for anyone, much less for deaf persons. Now that people are encouraged to wear masks, Ashley sees deaf people are being overlooked. So, she’s focused on making masks with windows in front of the person’s mouth so others can see their lips. No one is being overlooked. 

Quinn Callandar is a Canadian Boy Scout who heard that authorities were encouraging people to wear a mask. He then saw how important it was for medical professionals to wear them—all day long. When a request was made from local hospitals to create ear guards to help take the pressure off healthcare workers’ ears from wearing masks all through their days, Quinn created a 3-D pattern and began making ear guards available to everyone. He is 13 years old.

Brianna Engelson is a medical school student at the University of Minnesota. She and many other students (as well as staff and faculty) have jumped in head-first to match the needs of the medical community with students who can assist them, from babysitting to creating hand sanitizer to decontaminating N95 masks to pet care to running errands in general. These students felt they could either get lost on Netflix or invest their time in meeting needs.

So, the next time you’re tempted to think students are only wasting time these days, remember the stories of these young influencers who are investing their time brilliantly.

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Students Who Invest Their Time Instead of Wasting It