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7 Things I Do That Have Been Wasting My Time

7 Things I Do That Have Been Wasting My Time

If you add up the amount of time you have wasted not doing the things you wanted to in life, or how much time you have wasted because you haven’t managed your time as effectively as you could, I’m positive the results would be shocking!

Have you ever considered though, that you could be wasting precious time in important other ways? Here are some ways I’ve wasted my time in the past.

1. I don’t always challenge my negative thoughts.

This one definitely takes the cake and makes the top of the list! We are just now learning how our thoughts directly influence our lives and that our thoughts aren’t fact. Although, we certainly act as if they are!

We have, on average, 60,000 thoughts a day and unfortunately for most people, more than half are negative. It’s not your fault though; you didn’t choose to have them. Your thoughts come from your beliefs and experiences in life. You have developed beliefs that aren’t real; however, the biggest waste of time is not challenging your thoughts.

You need to question all your negative thoughts. Ask yourself, “Is this really true? Is it a fact?” If not, “Why do I believe this? What experiences have I had that gave me this opinion?” The best thing you can do is challenge your thoughts and refuse to let them hijack you. Your thoughts lead to your feelings and you take action on how you feel. Imagine the difference in your life between having a negative thought and acting on it, and having a negative thought and taking a minute to challenge it and change it for one that supports you instead. HUGE!

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2. I often believe people who have insulted me.

Can you remember the last time somebody insulted you? Of course you didn’t feel good about it and unfortunately, what most people tend to do is replay the insult over and over, feeling worse and worse and eventually believing it. Does this sound familiar?

There are a million types of people out there who feel they have the right to throw insults as they please; I have certainly had my fair share. The ironic part is that even though the insult may be directed at you and you might even believe it, it is really coming from the others person’s insecurities, misconception, perspective or lack of education.

Don’t waste your time letting others make you feel worse; someone can only make you feel bad with your permission. Instead of wasting time believing them, respond in a better way by ignoring them.

3. I have tried convincing someone to love me.

Do you ever find yourself obsessing over someone? “What can I do to make them like me? How can I convince them that they need to be with me?” Have you ever experienced this almost obsessive craving that drives your emotions and behavior to convince someone to love you?

The hard truth is, if somebody doesn’t want to be with you, there is nothing you can do to change that, and why would you really want to anyway? Why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t see you for who you are and love you as such?

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If you have been wasting time and energy convincing someone to love you, go and speak with somebody who has tried to do the same. They will tell you that it is a complete waste of time—I guarantee it! There are hundreds of other people who will love you without needing to convince them to. Remember, while you are wasting your time trying to convince someone to love you, you are missing out on an opportunity to meet the one who does!

4. I have beaten myself up about the past.

Why did I do that? Why did I say that? If only I did it differently. Every single person on the planet has regrets about the past. Why? Because we are human and perfection doesn’t exist.

The past will always be in the past, so why bring it into the future? The only thing way that the past serves us is by allowing us to learn from it to make better and different decisions in the future. This is the natural learning process in life. Your past does not need to dictate your future. We all have the right to start again and do things differently. Let go of the blame and bad experiences. You can only be wiser and more experienced from them, and that is nothing to beat yourself up about.

5. I have judged people on the decisions they’ve made.

How can he do that? I can’t believe she said that! We do it without even realizing it, but what a waste of time! Are you that person? Is it really your right to judge? When you judge some else, firstly, you cut off the possibility of understanding that person, which is actually what is needed.

Secondly, who the hell do you think you are to judge? Are you better than that person? Have you lived their life and been through everything to understand how one comes to a decision? Let go and let others live. Accept that you can’t control other people or make them act like you, even when you love them. Respect others enough to allow them to decide and learn. Stop wasting time on something you should never judge to begin with.

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6. I make up excuses for selfish behavior.

“It is okay. You can do that, even though it really puts me out!” Have you ever found yourself making excuses for other peoples selfish behavior?

You might do this because you love them and their happiness is more important than your own. While this might seem really sweet, it actually shows a low self esteem by putting other peoples’ happiness before your own. It is never, ever going to be healthy.

And consider this, why should you constantly excuse others because you care so much? How is the other person showing you that they also care like you do? By being selfish? I don’t think so. Learn to be more assertive and let other people take responsibility for their actions. At the end of the day, that is what really needs to happen.

7. I always put others before myself

We waste so much time, trying to please others but to our own detriment. Hello, what about you? Are you always going to let other people walk over you? Because that is what this is basically.

How much time do you spend going out of your way for others when you really didn’t want to? How many times have you said yes when you really want to say no? You are putting their needs before your own. If this is you, you will find that one day you will have the realization of “oh my gosh, this is my life and I’ve wasted time not doing the things I really wanted, but what others actually wanted.” Let’s hope you’re not too old when that happens, because it will happen, and let’s hope that you haven’t already wasted too much time putting yourself second!

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You may find that you do one or more of the above; now is your chance to change that. You only have one life. Time is precious and it cannot be bought. While you are wasting your time on the above, you are missing out on experiencing other more positive things in this world.

You deserve to have the best in life. If you don’t believe it, you need to challenge that negative belief now!

To your success!

More by this author

Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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