Our time in this life is precious and never guaranteed, so I think most of us could benefit with being a little more intentional about how we spend it.
You can never get back the time you've spent, so we shouldn't be wasting any of it.
When you ask people how they are, you will often hear - "busy", "I've got so much on at the moment', "there are not enough hours in the day", or other comments to that effect, but there is a big difference between being busy and being productive.
We constantly moan about how busy we are, but we continue to fill our lives and our time with stuff that's not really making us happy or helping us to achieve our goals.
Before you can get out of the busy trap, you need to work out what you are busy doing. If you are continually doing bits of everything but not really achieving anything, you are wasting time.
Most of us could do with an extra hour each day. So, how do you make that extra hour appear?
To get organised, you must manage your time effectively by editing the time wasters.
EDITING TIME WASTERS
For most people, time management means organising yourself around the most important tasks or making an effort to squeeze more into your day. Too few pay attention to those time wasters - big or small - that can make a huge hole in our time, focus and productivity.
When we fail to manage these time wasters efficiently, it prevents us from moving forward towards our goals.
Time wasters are related to our habits and routines, and so editing them can take time. As with any habit, it's a process of undoing what you have taught yourself to do repeatedly.
Here the top internal and external time wasters that I identified as affecting my productivity and focus, and a lot of the clients that I work with.... and some new habits to try and give you back some time.
EXTERNAL TIME WASTERS
These things are not necessarily bad, but they shouldn't take up too much of your time if they are not contributing to your wellbeing and happiness, and distracting you from accomplishing more important goals.
Learn when to switch off your mobile, log out of Facebook or not read a message
Your connections with the world and your relationships with others are good, but the constant stream of distractions from notifications are not, so you need to find a balance and not spend all day checking your phone for texts and What's App messages.
A constant stream of notifications may make us feel important, needed and wanted, but it will also eat into your time, focus and productivity.
Today, people think that they can send you a message and get an instant response because they usually do. You don't have to be like that. If someone needs you urgently, they can call you. It doesn't matter if they think you take too long to get back to them, what matters is that you are giving your friends, family or yourself the full attention that they deserve. Everyone else can just wait a minute.
How much time do you spend on your phone each day? Scrolling through social media, emails, messaging apps, surfing the internet, playing games etc.
If you have an iPhone, go to 'Settings', then 'Battery' and then click on the little clock symbol next to the battery usage, and it will show you how long you spent on each app on your phone in the last 24 hours 😮.
Give your smartphone a spot in your home and make it a habit to leave it there as soon as you come home, somewhere away from your sofa and bed,
Turn off notifications. Getting those notifications leads to stopping what you're doing and wasting time. Do you really need to check status updates every time they pop up on your phone?
If you can't eliminate them altogether, set time limits/blocks for yourself or allow yourself time on them only after certain other things have been done.
Social Media is everywhere, and it plays a huge part in most peoples spare time nowadays. It has many benefits, but it does have a significant impact on our time and how much we can lose if we don't manage it properly. It's about the balance of living your own life and spending too much time looking at everyone else's.
You can sit down, open up Instagram and before you know 30 minutes has gone by. How much time do you spend scrolling through your feed, finding nothing, putting your phone down and repeat? Sometimes we don't even realise that we are doing it.
It's hard to let go of it completely, but you need to control it, not allow it to control how you spend your time.
After turning off notifications, the next step is to delete social media apps from your phone, so you're not tempted to check them constantly. If you have a tablet or laptop, use these to check your accounts. I only have Social Media on my iPad. Set specific times or rhythms for checking social media. Mine is around 8.00pm just after the kids have gone to bed, and before I start to wind down ready for my bedtime routine.
Just log off and spend some time with yourself and your friends and family.
Constantly Checking Emails
As with social media, do you really need to read an email as soon as it pops up on your phone? Emails can be a huge time waster if you don't manage them properly.
There will be important emails that you need to action, but a lot of emails are just newsletter or offers that we end up clicking on, which leads is to browsing a website.
For you to remain productive, you have to limit the amount of time checking emails. For example, set aside 20 minutes 3 x per day. How often you need to check will depend on your lifestyle and work.
Don't check your emails as soon as you wake up in the morning, you need to start the day on your terms without distractions. Turn off notifications, any emails can wait until you check them.
TV, Movies and Games
Organise when you watch TV and movies and play games around you, not you around screen time. Don't let them dominate your life. Watch and play fewer things with more intention. If there is nothing on that you want to watch, stop scrolling through trying to find something to watch mindlessly, go and do something else instead.
INTERNAL TIME WASTERS
Lack of Planning and Focus
Life goes by at an alarming rate. You have to prioritise, so that you can get out of the way the things you need to do, in order to do the things that you want to do.
Time management and stress management are often linked and should always be addressed together.
The most important organisation tool you have is your calendar. A habit that I have always emphasised is planning your day the night before. All you need is 15 minutes. Waking up in the morning and knowing what you already need to do makes the start to the day much less stressful. Give yourself a little bit of downtime in the evening to reset and get ready for the day ahead.
Without a plan, you will start your day without focus, priorities or motivation and be prone to procrastination and drifting from one thing to the next without really achieving anything. You need to create a flow and focus in your day in order to increase your productivity and get things done.
Create a list of everything you need and want to achieve each day. You can write down your 'To Do' list in a notebook or paper planner or use an app like Evernote or todoist.
A To-Do list will help to keep you on track by highlighting the most important things you need to accomplish, but for them to be effective, and to prevent you from being overwhelmed and stressed, you need to keep them short; usually around 3-5 of your most important items per day. Tackle the most important first. If you leave them to last you'll have less energy and be more open to procrastination.
Plan out your day and 'To Do's' in blocks in your calendar. Time blocking helps you to create flow and recognise where you are wasting time. Work on like for like tasks together in one block and create a gradual shift from one completed task to the next.
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, we just don't want to do it, or you find it too challenging, so, Facebook seems like a better option, and we put these tasks 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 - get it done - you will save lots of time and stress in the long run, because it will keep going over and over it in your head until its done.
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 these mindless habits and take control of your time management. All it takes is a conscious choice to spend your time differently.
The first thing you need to do is to identify the things that are taking up your time and distracting you.
There is a list of other time wasters on the following worksheet, which you can print and use to write down your own time wasters and notes. Click on the image below to download.
Over a week keep a track on how you spend your time. You can do this using the calendar on your phone, an app or a paper planner (You can download free printable planners here).
The purpose of this exercise is to make you aware of how you spend your time and where you may be wasting it. Pay attention to how much time you are doing things and the flow of your days.
Do you have any procrastination habits?
What time wasters do you have in your life?
Please add any that you can think of in the comments below...