How Much Time do you Waste Each Day?
Updated: Mar 30
Our time in this life is precious and never guaranteed, so I think most of us could benefit from being a little more intentional about how we choose to spend it.
When you ask people how they are, you will often hear - "I'm so busy, I've got so much on at the moment, there aren't enough hours in the day", or other comments to that effect. But, there is a big difference between being busy and being productive.
It can be easy to fall into a negative 'busy' mindset and moaning about our lack of time but continue to fill our time and our lives with stuff that's not really making us happy or contributing to helping us achieve our goals.
Before you can get out of the 'busy' trap, you need to look at what you are busy doing. If you are continually doing bits of everything, but never really achieving anything, you wasting time.
If you want to be more organised, it's essential to manage your time effectively, and that includes editing the time wasters.
EDITING TIME WASTERS
For most, time management is about trying to squeeze more into the day. Too few pay attention to those time-wasters - big or small - that deplete our time, focus and productivity, preventing us from moving forward towards our goals.
Time wasters are linked to our habits and routines, and so editing can take a bit of time. As with any habit, it's a process of undoing what you have taught yourself to do repeatedly.
Here are some of the external and internal time wasters that can affect your productivity and focus, and some new habits to try to help you to reclaim some of that precious time for the more important things.
EXTERNAL TIME WASTERS
Disconnect from your mobile
How much time do you spend on your phone each day? Scrolling through social media, emails, messaging apps, browsing the web, playing games. etc.?
If you have an iPhone, go to 'Settings', then 'Screen Time" and you can view reports on your usage (😮) and also change your settings and add personal limits.
Your connections with the world and your relationships with others are good for view, but the constant stream of distractions from notifications is not.
A constant stream of notifications may make us feel important, needed and wanted, but it will also eat into your time and add to your mental clutter.
Today, all too often, people think that they can send you a message and get an immediate response. Don't feel pressured to do this. If you're spending your time with someone else, or on something else, give them or that your full attention. Messages can wait until you are finished. If someone needs you urgently, they will call you.
Give your smartphone a dedicated resting spot in your home and make it a habit to leave it there as soon as you come home - ideally somewhere away from your sofa or bed.
Social Media plays a big part in most peoples lives nowadays. It has many benefits, but it can take away a significant chunk of our time if we're not careful.
You can sit down, open up Instagram, and before you know it, 30 minutes have passed. How much time do you spend scrolling through your feeds, put your phone down, completely forget what you were looking at and then repeat 15 minutes later? We often don't even realise we are doing it.
It's hard to stop the habit altogether, but you do need to try and control it - not allow it to control how you spend your time.
Turn off notifications. Getting those constant 'pings' leads to stopping what we were doing and wasting time. Do you really need to check status updates every time they pop us on your phone?
Set time blocks or limits for yourself or allow some time on social media only after certain other things have been done.
If you want to take things further, the next step would be to delete social media apps from your phone altogether, so that you are not tempted to check them constantly. If you also have a tablet or laptop, use these to check your accounts. I only have social media on my iPad and check it around 8.00 pm. just after the kids have gone to bed and just before I start to wind down for my evening routine.
It's about finding the balance between living your own life and not spending too much of your time looking at everyone else's.
Constantly Checking Emails
As with social media and other messages, ask yourself if you really need to read every email as soon as it arrives? Emails can be a huge time waster if you don't manage them properly.
There will be a few important emails that you need to action straight away, but a lot of emails are just newsletters or offers that lead to wasting more time browsing a website.
Turn off notifications and try setting aside 20 minutes, three times per day for checking your emails (depending on your lifestyle and work commitments, you can adjust as needed).
TV and Gaming
Be intentional about the time spent watching TV or playing games. If there are things that you really want to watch, or play - schedule some time blocks into your calendar. This way, you will know that you are not wasting time, mindlessly scrolling trying to find something to watch or feeling guilty because you should be doing something else.
INTERNAL TIME WASTERS
Lack of Planning and Focus
Life goes by at an alarming rate. You have to prioritise the things that need to be done so that you can get onto the things you want to do.
The most important organisational tool that you have is your calendar.
A habit that I have always emphasised the importance of is planning your day the night before. All you need is 15 minutes. Waking up in the morning with a plan ready to go, makes your day much less stressful and reduces time wasted.
Without a plan, days tend to start without focus, priorities or motivation and can be prone to procrastination, and drifting from one thing to another without really achieving anything. Creating flow and focus in your day increases productivity and helps you to get more done, which makes you feel good!
Plan out your day and your to-do's (as much as you can) in blocks in your calendar. Time blocking helps to flow and see where you are wasting time. Group like for like tasks together in one block and create a gradual shift from one completed task or activity, to the next.
If you haven't already got an effective calendar system, have a read through the posts linked at the bottom of this one for some guidance on setting one up.
This may come as a shock, but multi-tasking actually wastes time. When you are working on something, your mind needs to focus on that task 100%. When you switch back and forth from task to task, it takes 10-15 mins for your brain to regain focus on what you're doing, and your energy goes into the process of switching.
Do one thing at a time. Once you have completed that task move onto the next.
When you have unrealistically high standards, you'll spend more time on a task than you should. Even after you have completed it, you'll probably keep going back over and over, making revisions to make it 'perfect'. Perfection is an impossible goal that not only kills your productivity, it is also bad for your wellbeing.
How much time is wasted by putting things off until the last minute?
You know what you need to do, but life gets in the way, you just don't want to do it, or you find it too challenging, so, Facebook seems like a better option, and we put the task off until another time. You've wasted time, and the task is still there.
If you need to do something or want to do something - schedule a time block in your calendar and just get it done. You will save lots of time and stress in the long run, because it will only keep playing over and over in your head until it is done and ticked off the list. Plus, if you let things build up, the amount of time needed to resolve them at a later date is usually greater.
If you let things build up, the amount of time needed to resolve them later is greater.
Only by being in the Now, you will create a healthy habit and feel good about yourself.
Observe the explanations or reasons that you give yourself when actually trying to avoid doing something.
The good news is that you can change any of these habits and take control of your time. All it takes is a conscious choice to get organised and be more intentional about how you choose to spend your time.
Over a week, keep a track of how you spend your time. You can do this using the calendar on your phone, an app or a paper planner (visit the resources page for some free printables).
This will help to make you aware of how your time is being spent. You can then decide if you need or want to make any changes.
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