As the saying goes, “time is gold,” but do we act like it? We feel guilty when we spend even $10 on something which turns out to be useless, yet we indulge in wasting time mindlessly scrolling through social media for 10 minutes during a work day.
The reality is time is your greatest asset. It can’t be repeated, earned, or bought back, even with all the money in the world. If you watch your finances like a hawk, you should be mindful of how you spend your time all the more.
Wasted time isn’t measured by your lack of activity. You can spend the day resting after a long work week, and it would still be a day well spent. But if you find yourself aimlessly hopping from one task to the next, even the busiest day will become a waste of time.
Here’s what you can do from now on to stop wasting so much time.
How to Stop Wasting Time and Boost Productivity
1. Know Where Your Time Goes
If you don’t know where your time goes, how can you stop wasting time? Having a clear view of where your time is spent each day gives you a clear baseline on where to improve.
Making the most of your time isn’t just good for productivity; studies show that proper time management enhances your well-being to a greater extent.
2. Be Aware of Your ‘Time Suckers’
Be ruthless in cutting out the activities which do not add value to your day. Being aware of where your ‘time suckers’ are is the first step to making the most of your available time.
You can start small, pinpointing moments during the day which are spent unproductively and work on reducing them.
Watching how much time you spend on social media is a key area to be aware of. Do you find yourself looking through your social media channels, only to realize an hour has passed without you knowing? If so, perhaps you should be limiting the amount of time you spend on the internet.
How about the amount of time you spend in front of the TV each day? If your daily routine involves coming home from work mentally exhausted, only to spend the next three or four hours mindlessly watching TV shows you have no interest in, you are wasting your time.
According to Statista, data shows that U.S. adults are estimated to spend an average of watching three hours of TV daily. That’s 1,095 hours annually, which is also equivalent to about 45 days.
Think about all the passion projects, side hustles, dream businesses, or hobbies you can start and do with the extra time.
‘Time Suckers’ can also apply to bigger decisions as well, such as your job. You spend at least eight hours of your day at work; it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to inspire you to keep going back each day. If your current job does not inspire you, investing some time to find a vocation that does would be a good use of your time.
3. Start the Day Proactively
Maximizing your time involves taking a proactive stance. Start the day with intention by setting meaningful objectives. You can aim to kickstart a new work project with your team or simply buy groceries for the week. The objectives could be as big or as small as you like, so long as they are specific, realistic, and achievable.
On the other hand, not having any kind of plan makes for a waste of time. This is a reactive stance; you drift through the day, merely responding to people and events outside of your control. This will drain your energy and leave you accomplishing nothing of value at the end of the day.
Research shows that goal setting helps greatly in influencing proactive behavior. Having goals will keep you focused and completing your objectives for the day will inspire a lot of positive energy that will power you through the next.
Need some inspiration? Read this: 20 Personal SMART Goals Examples to Improve Your Life
4. Have a Schedule
After setting your goals, it’s time to see how all the activities you need to make them happen fit into a schedule. Scheduling allows you to visualize all the work that needs to be done, preventing feelings of boredom and complacency from kicking in. It also stops you from wasting so much time thinking of which task to do first so you can focus on getting things done.
You can plan to spend thirty minutes of your morning exercising, one hour studying Italian, and a couple of hours meeting with your friends. Health and fitness, education, and relationship building are not wasteful activities. You’ve made great use of your time at only three and a half hours into your day!
Try these scheduling apps recommended by a productivity expert to help you stay organized.
5. Stop Multitasking
As ironic as it sounds, you’re wasting time when you attempt to do more in less time. Multitasking is given high regard in the era of competitive business, but it actually does more harm than good.
According to research, the human brain lacks the cognitive and neural structures to execute multitasking. Our attention spans and areas of control are wired to focus on one thing at a time. The actual manifestation of multitasking is task-switching or shifting between two activities within a given period.
Multitasking wastes time because it gives you a false sense of security that you can juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. In reality, you might be doing the work but without the focus needed to do your work well. This puts you at risk of lackluster performance or worse, having to repeat the task repeatedly.
Providing adequate timings and schedules for all your tasks gives you the space to get things done right the first time. With enough planning, you have enough room to scrutinize the details without getting overwhelmed. This makes you more efficient and, as a result, puts your time to better use.
6. Reduce or Re-route Interruptions
From phone calls to impromptu meetings, the average worker is interrupted fifty times daily. This can’t be helped. Not everything in life is planned – accidents happen, emergencies pop up, and navigating through these is a part of life.
Nevertheless, interruptions can disrupt one’s concentration, and these are a waste of time to get back. If you can pinpoint the most frequent interruptions to your day, you can find ways to reduce or re-route them to more conducive setups to maintain your productivity without losing focus.
To reduce distractions, try shifting your workspace orientation to face away from the window. You can close your door during tasks with deep concentration or block off time in your virtual schedule to finish your tasks without interruption. If your attention is shot with every new email, don’t uninstall your email, but simply set a designated time to open your inbox.
5 Tips to Stop Wasting Time and Boost Productivity
Life is short. Wasting time on online distractions, getting involved in meaningless discussions about things we have no control over, and drifting through our days with no plan or objective is like throwing away our hard-earned money. It’s about time we give time the importance it deserves.
From now on, become aware of how you spend your days, pinpoint which activities are a waste of time, and start the day with a plan. While going about your day, stay focused by keeping to a schedule, stop multitasking, and minimize interruptions. You’ll be surprised how much more you can get done in a day if you stop wasting so much time and set your mind to it.
Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com
|||^||National Library of Medicine: Does Time Management Work? A Meta-analysis|
|||^||Statista.com: Average daily time spent watching TV in the United States from 2019 to 2023|
|||^||National Library of Medicine: The mechanism of goal-setting participation’s impact on employees’ proactive behavior, moderated mediation role of power distance|
|||^||National Library of Medicine: Multicosts of Multitasking|