Four Ways to Waste Time

Waste Time - hourglassTime. Mmm… Important! Our lives are defined by the time we have from our birth and our death. And, the quality of our lives is determined by what we do in between. We don’t know if we have five days, five months or five decades left in our lives.

Yet, despite this natural constraint, I often find I waste time and I know that I’m not alone in this thought.

So, what do we mean by ‘waste time’? A simple way to think about is:

I’m not spending time on things that are important to me.

Here are four ways to waste your time…

1 Obvious Ways to Waste Time

Some ways to waste time are obvious… For instance, checking your email or Facebook every five minutes is clearly not driving your purpose. Often we call it procrastination and I think a more direct description is avoidance – rather than do the things we say or know we need to do we put it off by doing something else.

TIP: Make a list of the obvious ways you waste time in your life. Then either stop doing them, schedule when you’ll do them or use them as a reward for completing your more meaningful tasks.

Image: Wikipedia

2 Less Obvious Ways to Waste Time

Some time wasters are less obvious… For instance, sitting in traffic because you didn’t think to plan your trip outside of peak hours. Whilst we lament when we sit amidst the traffic, unless we connect this to what we’d rather be doing we can easily whittle away our day and lose unnecessary hours.

TIP: Review your day and your week. Identify some opportunities where you could save some time. For instance, was that meeting really necessary? If yes, could it have been done over the phone or skype?

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3 Busy Time Wasters

If someone watched you during the day do you think they would know whether you were wasting time or not? Sometimes we are busy and still wasting time. For instance, you’re working away on a proposal and it takes you all day to finish it. On the outside this looks like you’re busy. And, on the inside you know in your heart that it really should have only taken half a day and you fluffed around.

TIP: Again, review your day. This time, look inside yourself and check to see if you really did work well. One part of working effectively is to spend just the right amount of time on our tasks – not too little, not too much.

4 Not Now Time Wasters

Sometimes we can be very efficient on getting our tasks done by spending just the right amount of time on them. And, we can still be wasting our time. This happens when we’re working on the wrong tasks. A classic example of this is someone starting their business by spending a lot of time on their website. Unless you’re running an online business, you’re probably better spending time face-to-face meeting potential clients.

TIP: To solve this problem you need to have a solid plan to know what the right tasks are that you need to focus on.

How I Waste Time

The reason I’m writing about this topic today is because I realize I’m wasting my time writing my blog. I don’t mean writing or blogging is a complete waste of time. Instead, I’m wasting my time because I’m writing about the wrong things. This article is a great example. Do I want to be paid to help people with their time management and productivity? No. So, why am I writing about it? It’s a form of avoidance (Point #1) and being busy by working on the wrong things (Point #3). When I return to my plan for why I’m blogging in the first place it’s to create content for my books. And, unfortunately, I’ve been focused on publishing a blog post everyday and not on writing my books everyday.

ACTION: For me, expect me to continue writing and a tighter focus on my current book. More on this here…

PS: I’m thinking of putting an hourglass on my desk to remind me about how time disappears… There’s a lot talk about toward motivation (purpose) and not a lot on away from…

QUESTION: Which ones of these strategies do you use to waste time? And, what are you going to do about it?


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