Your time is valuable. It’s a limited, finite resource that, once used, can never be reclaimed. Yet too many people waste it with little or no thought to the ramifications. By getting a full understanding of how your time is spent and spending the time to ensure you understand your priorities, you will be able to stop wasting time and live a more meaningful, full life. Learn how not to waste your time and live a more productive and happy life in 7 easy steps:

1. Prioritize your day.

Often we are more efficient when we are the most busy. Take the holidays for example. We have a list as long as Santa’s and seemingly no time to get it done, yet we do. So let’s learn from that and prioritize tasks like it’s just before your holidays. Create a list containing everything that must be done that day. That will help you prioritize your day and not waste time on things that don’t matter.

2. Create a list every morning. Write it down. And stick to it.

Planning out your day and the steps that need to be taken for it to be successful is the quickest way to stop wasting time. You need a visual reminder of what needs to be done and how much has been completed. This can’t be done “in your head”. Be clear on what you need to do. It needs to go on a sheet of paper, in your phone, emailed to yourself, or placed on your desk each and every day. Most people don’t realize they are wasting time until it’s too late. Plan ahead and ensure you know exactly what you need done each and every day.

3. Value your time and learn to say no.

Make sure you value all your available time.  Helping others is a great thing, but stop pleasing people at the expense of your own productive time. Ensure that your lists and tasks get done before helping others. By focusing on staying productive in the tasks that you do, you will find you will have much more time to help others without cutting into your productivity.

4. Take time to find out what you do well and what needs improvement.

Be proactive about becoming more efficient. Track your time for a few days and find out the pattern you spend time on. Write down everything.  If you spend 5 minutes checking Facebook, write it down. You may find that those 5-minute distractions add up to a much larger chunk of wasted time than you expect. Be sure to look for trends. Did a task take longer on a certain day? Did you find that you’re more productive in the morning or just after lunch? Find the time when you’re most focused and the tasks that need the most concentration, and put them together.

5. Understand all ramifications of major decisions.

Major decisions, changes and projects can seem like a great decision, and often these changes need to be made. But large, sweeping changes often lead to inefficient management of your time and wasting time. Take the time to think through and project out how these decisions will play out in the long run. Who will be affected, and what might the response be? By understanding the ramifications, you can better steer clear of the pitfalls of productivity that a new major change can bring.

6. Keep your mind sharp…

A healthy person of mind and body is a productive person in practice. Learn something new every day, read a book or study a second language. Don’t give up habits that help you warm up; rather, continually work out your brain.  You’ll be more productive and perceptive.

7. And your body fit.

The same is true of your body. Spending 30 minutes, three times a week can do wonders for your energy levels.  An active person will be a more productive person.  You’ll sleep better and your time awake will be more focused and productive.

Never forget how valuable your time really is.  Taking time to reflect about your current processes, focus on planning your future endeavors and taking care of you body and mind will continue to make your time more productive and your life more fulfilling.

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