Each year I get older the more important I find time to be. Time to spend with my wife. Time to spend with my kids. Time to spend doing the things I like and as importantly, things that will help me grow as a person, not to mention add money to my pocket. And with each passing year, every single time I’m doing something I know prohibits these advancements is a time I get more and more frustrated. We’re only on this earth once, and while I’m not saying that you have to “live every moment like it’s your last,” you do have to understand what each moment is for, what it’s purpose is, and decide whether it’s something that’s helping you or hurting you. Today I’d like to talk about three time wasters in your life and some suggestions on how you can avoid making the mistake of committing these time management mistakes.
Productivity Time Wasters
The first category of wasting precious time is in your productivity. Whether it’s a job you’re in, a home improvement project you’re working on, a craft you are trying to perfect, we tend to procrastinate in a myriad of ways that tends to impede our progress thus limiting our productivity. So how do we fix these problems? First let’s identify them. I want to use work and career life as the prime example. Here are some examples of wasting time when you’re at work:
- Surfing the internet, doing anything online that has nothing to do with your job
- Having unnecessarily long conversations with friends or co-workers
- Smoke breaks, long lunch breaks, or any unnecessarily long breaks.
- Checking and re-checking email or statistics, anything of that nature
While it’s close to impossible to just stop doing all these things cold turkey, the point is to be well aware of them and start weeding them out slowly. I’ve been in the corporate world and honestly if I were to take a guess, I’d say that average person who works in an office and has an 8-10 hour day only puts in a few hours of work, seriously. At most, a few hours of work. The rest of their time is spent “killing time” until they go home. What a waste that is. I do hope that one day the work day is simply limited to production and results, but we all know that day won’t come any time soon.. But until that time, how do we fix productivity time wasters?
Like I said, only you can truly know what activities you are doing that make absolutely zero impact on your career or life progression. The point is to eliminate these one by one and to do it at a pace that’s comfortable. Take for example checking email. That’s one of the biggest time wasters on the planet. Do you really need to check email 100 times a day? Imagine how much time you’d save if you only checked 4-5 times a day total. I’ve done this and it was hours and hours of time during the week that I had saved. But I had to go down to 50, then 20, until I could get to 4-5. What if you limited yourself to 10 minutes of small talk with colleagues per day? What if you only texted people when you got home from work? When you can cut out this kind of fat, your productivity will skyrocket. The issue is that you are the only person who is accountable here and if you’re not honest with yourself about any of this, it’ll never work.
Interpersonal Time Wasters
This one’s a little more vague and varies from person to person but when I refer to interpersonal time wasters I’m referring to people in your life that you waste your time with. Little do we realize how toxic some people can be in the time management in our lives. Here are some examples of interpersonal time wasters:
- The in-laws who can’t stop calling
- A crazy ex you’re still dealing with for no reason
- That person you keep reaching out to you who NEVER emails or calls you back
- A husband or wife who knows no boundaries whatsoever
- That friend who sends you 100 emails a day
Honestly the list goes on. The point is that there are loads of people you need to both limit and cut off in your life. And you’d be surprised at how easy it is. The more you think about you and the less you think about them when it comes to the importance of your time, the more you’ll see that they’ll understand your motivation and goals. Here’s the key, TELL THEM! If you have an in-law who won’t stop bothering you, give them a time window to call you in and let them know that any other time is no good and that you won’t answer. That way they know ahead of time if they are crossing a boundary. Are you emailing people too many times only to find they don’t email you back? Say adios! It’s one thing if they are a family member, it’s another if you barely know them. Limit these types of emails. Wife or husband won’t leave you alone? Set a boundary. “I’m at work and cannot deal with anything but emergencies.”
Look at your life. Look at the people in your life. Figure out the ones who are holding you back and limit them as much as possible.
“Sucking the life out of you” Time Wasters
This is a subjective title but you’ll get it as soon as you read the next sentence. Anything in life that you KNOW is a complete waste of time outside or work or relationships is pretty much a “sucking the life out of you” time waster. Here’s the thing. These are different for every person in the universe. Only you can figure these out. Me personally? Physical shopping. I personally think that going anywhere and shopping for anything is a complete waste of my time. When all I have to do is visit Amazon and click a button, why would I take 2 hours out of my day to do this? Again, that’s me, not everyone else. Waiting in lines? Waiting in traffic? I consider these to be the bane of my existence. How do I solve these issues? Unfortunately there’s no universal panacea for avoiding waiting in lines or getting in a traffic jam but there are certainly things that can cut the odds of these things happening. I personally work from home so I know that if I go somewhere at an odd time when things are less busy, I’ll have less of a line. If I drive to NYC at 2am, I’m not hitting traffic. If I’m going during rush hour I know I’m screwed. Again, these are things that are sometimes in your control and sometimes not.
Don’t forget that downtime is important and is NOT a waste of time in many cases
So how do you know what’s a waste of time and what’s not? Only you can really decide but here I want to discuss down time. How do you know when watching TV or relaxing it time well spent or time wasted? Are you watching TV 8 hours a day? Chances are that’s a waste of time. Do you watch one program at the end of your day or in the middle of the day to take a break? Chances are that’s time well spent and in fact NEEDED. We can’t go 100 mph all the time. We need breaks, rest, and relaxation. Know the difference and do the best you can to manage this. Good luck out there!