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Worse Than Wasted.

[We commend the following article to the careful reading of both students and teachers.—Ed. Etude.]

If the time that many of us waste in making up our minds over little matters could be employed in doing something really useful, how much more would we be able to accomplish! As with most bad habits, the habit of indecision in little, every-day affairs is the easiest thing in the world to acquire. We think so much of the small duties of life that they get to assume the most formidable proportions, and in deciding what we shall do about them we leave ourselves little time for greater and more serious things.

How we envy those people who have the knack of accomplishing a great deal without apparent effort. We look at them in wonder, and vainly wish that we might discover their secret. It does not appear difficult. “Why,” we ask ourselves, “cannot we do as much as they?” But, strive as we may, we never seem to succeed.

The secret is not a hard one to find, but it is a hard one for us to put into practice, at first, if we have been of the hesitating kind. They have learned to make up their minds quickly, and then never to permit themselves to have any doubts as to the wisdom of their decisions. They do their work systematically, and put into each working moment the best that is in them, without thinking of the result. They are the people who rise at the same time each morning, and take up their daily tasks at the same hour every day. They are the creatures of habit, but their habits are nearly all good ones, that lead them in the direct line of that which they are striving to do.

There is no one factor of success stronger than that of having acquired good habits of work. Having once formed these, we are left free to look beyond the mere details of the work, and to see how best we may accomplish that which we have undertaken. It is like playing the piano. At first we have to study the music and the keys, and each note we strike requires a separate and distinct effort of the will, but in a little while we begin to read the music readily, and as our fingers wander over the keys we are not conscious of guiding or directing them.

And this is the way we should learn to do our work, whatever it may be. The details of it should never trouble us, but they should become as a second nature. We should be so accustomed to beginning the day at the same time each morning, that when an exception occurs we would feel somewhat at a loss. We should be hardly conscious of taking up each separate task, but should go to it as a matter of course. There is necessarily in most of our lives more or less of routine. The same things have to be gone over day after day, and, so far as they themselves are concerned, it makes little difference in what order we do them, so long as they are done. But for our own sakes, we should, as soon as possible, adopt an invariable rule of proceeding in regard to them, never departing from it until we become unconscious that we are following a rule.

At first glance it does not seem of much importance. But think what would be saved by it. Suppose each day we did the same things, but in a different way, haphazard. As we finished one we would have to stop to think which one we would better do next, and so on until all were completed. How much time would we have wasted, how much trouble expended, and how more tired would we be when we had finished? On the other hand, having once got the duties of the day to arrange themselves for us, we soon find that they have become much easier. The days have become longer, and we begin to find time for the thousand and one things we have always looked upon as being quite beyond the reach of our busy lives.—Harper’s Bazar.


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