When I was in college, I was excessively concerned with using my time efficiently. If I took a break from studying to watch a movie or play a videogame, I considered it a waste of time. But as I matured, I learned the value of leisure time in keeping my sanity (and also having something interesting to talk about). These priorities, having to do with valuations of how we spend our time, are called “time perspectives” in some psychology research.
Zimbardo cautions against excessively future-oriented characteristics, whereby people would not “waste time” relating to family or friends, in community activities, or enjoying personal indulgences (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). This argument is supported by the evidence of Rappaport et al. (1985), which showed that both strong and weak future orientations may constitute problematic extremes; individuals who have a more balanced time perspective represent higher levels of identity development.
A new study from Toshiaki Shirai found that having a balanced time orientation—being “in the moment” at times and focused on the future in others—is a sign of adulthood and well-being. In other words, coming to realize that things that are a “waste of time” aren’t just a waste; they’re a way to balance our lives. Something to keep in mind if you find your videogame hobby criticized.