I hate it when somebody wastes my time. The only thing I hate worse than somebody wasting my time, is when I find myself doing it. Do you find yourself frustrated because you can’t seem to knock tasks off your to-do list? As much as you want to blame someone else, you may be the culprit. It’s time to examine how you spend your time to find out if you’re being productive or not. Ready?
Let’s face it. Life is short. Our time on earth is one of our most precious commodities when you think of it because once it’s spent, that’s it. You can’t get it back, no matter how badly you want to. To say it in the words of Queen Elizabeth I, “All my possessions for a moment in time.” Even on her deathbed, she wished for more time. Why? Because more often than not, we find ourselves regretting how we’ve used our time and wishing we had done more in the time allotted to us.
Tell me, does that ever sound like you?
I guarantee we’ve all felt that way at some point in our lives. We end our day feeling unproductive and frustrated because we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to. We take a look at our tasks and assignments and wonder what went wrong with our day, knowing tomorrow holds another list of tasks. How will we ever catch up?
I think the answer lies in finding out how we are spending our time. Once we know how we’re really spending the hours of our day, we can determine what really is stopping us from accomplishing more each day. I challenge you to take pick a day this week and track your day, hour by hour, on a sheet of paper. Write down everything you do, when you do it, and where you do it. At the end of the day, take a look at how you’ve spent the day. Were you productive? Where did you find yourself wasting time?
To help you, I’ve listed below some of the most common ways people waste their time away. Could these 7 hindrances be what’s causing you to waste your day away?
How often do you check your email during the day? Although useful, email can be one of our biggest daily distractions. Whether you get a few emails a day or if your inbox gets flooded, each time you stop your current task to read and respond to an email you lose your focus. It can take a few minutes for you to regain your concentration, and those minutes really add up by the end of the day. You can minimize your email distractions by designating specific times during the day to check and respond to emails instead of as they arrive throughout the day. For example, you could commit to checking your email only once in the morning, after lunch and at the end of your day.
Although social media can be a power tool to keep you connected with family and friends, it can also become addicting. Checking Facebook and Instagram repeatedly throughout the day can really add up to a huge chunk of time. Not only will it distract you from completing your daily tasks, but research has shown that it can even make you less happy. Limit your time spent on social media sites by scheduling specific times to check in. If you don’t have the willpower, try an app that will keep track of time or block those sites for you.
Imagine that you’re lost in thought and really being productive when…ding…your phone makes a beep. We have the natural inclination to answer our phones or check notifications, but even if we don’t, our mind gets preoccupied with the thought of it. Just like with email, we lose our focus and concentration and it can be difficult to get it back. The answer? Disable notifications on your smartphone to minimize the distractions. You can also try turning your phone completely off for small periods of time (30 minutes) to provide time for intense concentration.
Another huge distraction that can take up big portion of your day is browsing the web. What starts as a quick search for a price on an item can easily can turn into 30 minutes of catching up on the latest news reports. Combat the desire to surf the web by keeping your browser closed, or use an app designed to limit the time you spend online.
Relationships with family, friends and coworkers are important, but they can often get in the way of our daily tasks. What starts as a quick phone call to catch up can easily turn into an hour long conversation. Limit those daily friendly chats to 15 minutes a day and watch your productivity soar!
Yes, television can be a big time waster when there are more important tasks to be done. If you find yourself buried in laundry and dirty dishes because you watched an entire season of The Vikings in one week, it may be time to re-prioritize. Is watching that new TV show really more important than knocking a few tasks off your to-do list? If you’re not getting things done because you’re spending too much time watching TV, it’s time to put a limit on it. Commit to crossing one item off your to-do list each night before your favorite TV show comes on. It may be just what you need to motivate you to get some of those household tasks done!
Perhaps procrastination is the biggest time trap of all. There are many reasons we procrastinate and put off important tasks, but it’s often because we feel the task is difficult or unpleasant. Whether we’re wasting our time avoiding difficult tasks or waiting for inspiration to get something done, the outcome is always the same: we end the day with the dreaded task looming over our heads. The answer? Prioritize your day by tackling the hardest task of the day first. Once you get the dreaded task done, you’ll have a greater sense of accomplishment, feel better and be more productive the rest of the day.
What distractions are keeping you from doing your best every day? What can you do to stop them? I admit that I’ve been guilty of wasting my time with all 7 of these distractions, and on more than one occasion, too. I may have even procrastinated writing this post…
The key to stop wasting your time is to recognize what’s happening and make a plan of action to stop. Tell me, how will you protect your precious commodity of time today?