How busy are you? I can wager that you’ll say VERY – because that’s what most of us are…. or are we? really?
Let’s look at some of the ways we may be filling our time with things that don’t really matter – time wasters – and how to make new habits to make more of your day instead….
We all have 24 hours in our days – so let’s make the most of what we have, and stop wasting it!.
After all, if you can clearly see where you are spending your time on what doesn’t matter, then you can actually do something about it – rather than just carry on as you are and wonder where the days go.
Hopefully these tips will help you create a more streamlined and productive day, so let’s go through them right now, and look at ways to avoid the time wasting trap, once and for all.
I have really lost count of the number of hours I spend (yes, still now if I don’t watch myself) trying to work out what would be best to do with that day, how to make the most of my time etc… – only to find that the day has passed and I’ve still got nothing done.
How to avoid
Your diary really should be your best friend when it comes to managing your time. I really get the most out of my day now that I use mine religiously.
Add in any unmovable appointments along with travel and prep time for each, then add in any errands or jobs you have to do that day. In any spare time you have you can then look at your TO DO list and work out the top priority for that day, and add it in.
New Habit – Check your diary for the week ahead, and then every evening for the next day. You can add TO DOs, errands etc… into any gaps so you avoid not knowing what to do when you get there.
2. Social Media and email
These should all come with a warning – once you have signed into Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, your email, etc… then time will pass by double quick.
People often say to me that they hadn’t realised how long they spent on these things until they were asked to time how much of a day they spent on it – and most were horrified!
How to avoid
It’s impossible to not spend time on social media and email nowadays, most people use it in one way or another – but it’s important not to let it take over.
Spending a set time 2 or three times a day works best – usually first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, and last thing at night. It’s also worth remembering that everyone can wait – and a few hours won’t hurt!
New Habit – Look at social media at set times in your day – times that work best for you, and when you don’t have other things to be doing.
3. Things that take you away from your goals
Your goals are what you will look back on and feel a sense of pride in if you have achieved them, but feel deflated it not. Therefore it makes sense that anything that takes you directly away from your goals is wasting your time.
Things such as hobbies that you don’t really enjoy anymore, groups that you are a member of that have a lot of time commitment but don’t relate to your goals, friends who make you feel low when you are with them, and working all the hours you have in a dead end job when you would rather start your own business….
How to avoid
Really look at how you spend your time, and what proportion of what you do is helping your towards your goals in life. You may be surprised at the results.
With those things that you really should drop, get out of them confidently and learn to say NO more to things that don’t help you.
There will of course be some things that you can’t avoid in life – but if you can manage things better then you will have more time to get to where you want to be in life, and ultimately this will make you happier.
New Habit – Learn to say NO more to things that you don’t want or need to do. Saying NO to these things means you are saying YES to those things that actually do matter.
4. Unimportant TV
I have clarified in the title that it’s not just TV that’s a time waster. On the contrary. There are some TV programmes that can be useful, relaxing, and entertaining.
What I am talking about is watching things just for the sake of it.
Flicking through the endless channels available and not really watching much of anything – or simply the habit of watching TV every night and not doing something else that would make you happier. All of the above are a complete waste of time.
How to avoid
One very easy way to do this is to invest in TV systems that allow you to record (Such as Virgin Media or SKY). You can record programmes and series and watch them when you want to and not be dictated to by the schedule.
Another big bonus is that you can fast forward through the breaks, and you can watch more of what you want to watch at a time that suits you.
The other option is of course to simply limit how much TV you allow yourself each day, and see how much more you get done!
New Habit – Record everything you want to watch, and stop being dictated by their schedule. Watch when you have time and you will soon start to see what you really want to watch!
5. Irrelevant Phone Calls
My biggest gripe of all are phones. They are about the only thing in this world that ring out and expect you answer it there and then, dropping whatever else you are doing, and sometimes waking you – often for no good reason other than someone trying to sell you something.
How to avoid
I simply have answer phones on my mobile and my landline – and only answer if I know who is calling, and I genuinely have the time – which is rare. Instead they will always leave a message, and I can get back to them when its a more suitable time.
This sounds quite cold, but I have been amazed at how much more productive I am. I run a business from home and am often called throughout the day by sales people, who are sometimes difficult to shake!
Actual customers tend to email rather than phone, and those that do phone always leave a message as they assume I am busy with another client – so it does nobody any harm – and it does me a lot of good as I can focus on my work and then make calls at the end of the day when I am ready and in that mode.
New Habit – Unless you know the caller, try not answering the phone when you are busy. This will allow you to focus more and get it done more quickly, and you can return the call then.
Doorbells, children, friends, family, deliveries, phone calls (mentioned above!), etc… can all eat into your day and before you know it you haven’t got anything done AGAIN.
It’s a case of being reactive in your day rather than proactive – and it’s SO FRUSTRATING!
How to avoid
Now I’m not saying that you should ignore your children (unless its a tantrum…), and I am not saying your can avoid interruptions altogether (emergencies will crop up that need your undivided attention) – but you should be able to limit them as much as possible so you get what you need to done.
Try and keep yourself behind closed doors when you have work to do at home, and get someone to look after the children (can you get your partner to share childcare in the evenings for example).
What about doing your important tasks at times of the day when you are less likely to be interrupted?
Also, if you really can’t avoid interruptions, know this and schedule in time for them in your day – which means you won’t get so stressed and should hopefully still be able to get everything done that you wanted.
New Habit – Become proactive in avoiding as many distractions as you can. Do tasks at the best time of day for less distractions to occur.
7. Lack of planning
Have you ever been getting ready for an event and realised that you or your partner haven’t sorted a present/card/babysitter/taxi etc…?
Lack of planning not only wastes time, but can really stress you out.
How to avoid
Simply getting more organised will help you stay on top of planning.
Knowing where you are going and how to get there, knowing that you have the right clothing, whether you need to have a present etc…. – all these things take a lot less time when done on the right day along with everything else – rather than at the last minute in a rush.
New Habit – When you get an invite/appointment, write down everything you will need. Put a note to yourself in your diary a few days before the event to make sure you have everything ready.
8. Losing things
Keys are the most common thing that are lost in peoples homes – taking forever to find, and usually when you need to be out of the door and on your way somewhere.
Whether it be your wallet, an important letter, chequebook or a price of jewellery – its so frustrating and stressful when it can’t be found.
How to avoid
This can’t be said enough when you are organising yourself and your home. If you and all your family members are aware of where to put things, and then create new habits that ensure that they are put back each and every time they are used, then you WILL eliminate this time waster once and for all.
New Habit – Create a place for each item you tend to lose regularly – start to put them in the right place at all times and losing them will become a thing of the past.
9. Doing things at the wrong time
Imagine the situation.
You have a long list of things to do one day. You haven’t planned out when the best time to do them is, and are just working through the list. You get to the end of the list at the end of the day and its something that has to be done urgently by the following day but needs you to speak to someone else for some information first. That person has now left the office for the day.
Grrrrr. It’s totally your fault, but with a little planning this could have easily been avoided.
How to avoid
It pays dividends to check your day the day before and see that everything you need to do is done at the best time. If you need to post something then you know that the worst times are first thing in the morning and at lunchtime when queues are long, so simply avoiding these times will give you back time that can be spent better elsewhere.
If you need some information before you can actually do anything else, as in the example above, then schedule talking to that person at the start of the day even if you don’t do your part of the job until nearer the end.
As long as you schedule things for a time when you know you will have everything you need to complete the job, then you should be fine!
New Habit – Go over your day the day before and check that you have scheduled the right things for the right times (as much as you can).
10. Waiting times
The mere term “waiting” time instills a sense of wasting time in most people.
We want things to happen as soon as we get somewhere, and waiting around can be a real waste of time as nothing else can be done while you are there….. or can it….
How to avoid
Some waiting times are unavoidable, such as a dental appointment where the dentist is running late. And you can’t really avoid waiting times completely – BUT you can make them more productive.
Even though you are physically waiting, you can get other things done.
For example, why not take a book to read if you have been meaning to read it and never have the time?, what about writing your shopping list, how about addressing some christmas cards during nov/dec, or making a start on that book you’ve always wanted to write! I always have a notebook with me for times when I have got time to spare, and can then write ideas down for these posts, or things I need to add to my diary etc…..
New Habit – Carry something with you at all times that you can get done while waiting in any queues.
11. Meetings for the sake of meetings
Whether it’s a business meeting or social meeting for a group you belong to, there are always times I bet when you have walked out and thought “what was the point in that”.
Not only has it wasted your time, but also the others who have been in the meeting as well. If you add in any travel and prep time to that then the figure is sometimes shocking. Some people simply like meetings, like to talk, and don’t have a point to what they are saying, so its time to stop the wasted time in its tracks!
How to avoid
Ask the person who invited you what the purpose of the meeting is for. Can this actually be done over the phone, does everyone need to be involved, is it an excuse for a coffee and a chat really? Asking them the question will really help to identify whether it’s going to be a good use of your time.
New Habit – Try and make a call to someone instead of meeting them if possible as it saves time travelling, and phone calls tend to be shorter by nature.
12. Not grouping like with like
As with organising your home where it is best to keep like with like in terms of items – when it comes to time it is always best to group like tasks with like.
If you don’t do similar tasks together, you are bound to waste more time on doing each one as they come up.
How to avoid
Phone calls one after the other work better as you are in that mode, business meetings are best one after the other as you will be dressed suitably, errands to a certain location are best done at the same time to avoid multiple journeys etc….
Even time spent with friends can be halved while still enjoying their company by going out with 2 or 3 at the same time rather than separately. This means you may well be able to fit in socialising more easily when there are less evenings available.
It’s just about being smart with your time!
New Habit – Checking your TO DO list when you know you are going to be in a certain area on day will ensure that you can get anything else that needs doing in that area done at the same time.
When you start to recognise where you are wasting time, it can be a very positive change to try and eliminate as much of this as possible.
It can really help you to focus on what’s important to you, and what can simply be got rid of.
Creating some of the new habits suggested in this post may well help you become more productive each and every day – so why not try one today and let me know how you get on…