10 Things That Eat Time

Your time is valuable. You have the same number of minutes as everyone else in your day, but how you spend them consistently will make or break you. And one of the biggest mistakes you can make in life is letting tasks, habits and activities that have nothing do so with where you really want to go eat up your valuable time. Here are just ten of time wasters and how to move from throwing time away on them to valuing your time much more.

Lack of organization. Your schedule is the one thing that most dictates how you spend your time. Create routines for getting up and read, how you spend your day, what you do when you get home. The greater the routine, the less wasted time all day, every day. Prepare for your meetings, don’t just attend them. Block out your time consistently. Think about how much time a task will take before you begin—if it’s going to push you out of your routine, consider what you will drop, or whether you need to finish. Let organization drive your days.

Reading everything that comes your way. In the Internet age we are bombarded by information consistently. First, set your notifications on your phone to only those that you must receive. Use your Email VIP function so that those you must hear and respond to are always at the top of the pile. Turn off notifications on games, social media, videos and other time wasters. Do you really need to see a picture of Phil’s steak from dinner last night right now? Consider that about 80% of what you are reading consistently really isn’t important. And if it’s not important, why are you spending your valuable time on it?

Social media. You see it everywhere—people glued to the long scroll of social media on their phones. And most of this is useless information. Set a hard limit for social media and move it out of the thick of your day. Let this be for personal enjoyment and diversion for after you get home. Or limit to 10-15 minutes during lunch. A recent study indicated most smartphone users check social media an average of 60 times per day. Don’t be a part of this sad and time-wasted statistic.

Unscheduled meetings. Going along with organizing your day is scheduling your meetings. And conducting them in an organized manner. A meeting should have an agenda, include those necessary to push the agenda forward, and have a defined ending. Don’t have a weekly meeting for no reason if there is nothing to accomplish. And when a request for a meeting pops up unexpectedly, ask about the agenda, participants and goals before agreeing to it.

Someone else’s crisis. An unknown author said, “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” A peer forgets something important, or someone lets a deadline slip up. Do your job to the best of your ability, but not theirs. Don’t stay late or push your projects aside to handle a deadline someone else missed. If it’s your supervisor’s mistake, then clarify. “I have these priorities you’ve assigned me. If I take care of this crisis, I’m going to need additional time on these other commitments.” Act consistently assuming actions of others have consequences, and don’t be afraid to confront the issue of your time constraints when necessary.

Complaining. Commenting or arguing about circumstances beyond your control does nothing and solves nothing. If you are in a position to make a change, or inform someone who can take action, then do so. But water cooler talk about all of life’s challenges, disappointments and disagreements not only wastes time, but sours your mood and outlook.

Rush hour. Timing is everything. Driving during peak hours in the morning and afternoon wastes valuable time. If you can, shift your schedule to get in early and leave early, or vice-versa. If you must drive during rush hour, pick up a good audio book to listen to, or determine to catch up on news that affects you. And it goes without saying, don’t text and drive!

Gossip. What is someone else doing that you disapprove of? Who was at the event and who wasn’t? What is going on with Bob’s marriage? Unless you are in a position to help in any given situation, stop the gossip. It’s none of your business.

Indecision and procrastination. When faced with a decision, if at all possible, make it then and there. If you can’t make a decision, determine the next action step required to get there. Then set it aside until that step is finished.

False promises. Most people make promises regularly that they have no intention of keeping. When asked for something that isn’t vital, consider whether it is worth your time. It is far better to refuse, deflect or give away a task than to promise it and then not follow through. When your word is your bond, it means you must be careful of promises you cannot keep.