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Last Updated on May 15, 2019

4 Critical Ways You Can Stop Wasting Time Today

4 Critical Ways You Can Stop Wasting Time Today

By the end of this time management article you will have an important gift – a bundle of time to get more things done today.

Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s a simple fix — all you need to do is eliminate four bad time management habits and stop wasting time today.

1. Stop Random Email Checks

Popping in and out of your inbox creates a “start-stop-start” pattern of work activity. Your wasted time quickly adds up when you consider the time it takes to refocus after each stop. A dozen email trips each day can cost you one completed product each week.

If you want to be productive, don’t make checking emails the first thing to do in the morning. Here’s why.

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And unless you are expecting an important task-related message, each day you should schedule the 3 specific time slots for checking email: mid-morning, after lunch, and mid-afternoon.

For that matter, the same goes for your voicemail, text messages and other smartphone-related activities. Reduce these harmful interruptions by sticking to a set schedule.

2. Quit “Winging-it”

Quick story alert: There was a time in my life when I would get lost while driving. A lot. For a while I thought I was a hopelessly directionally-challenged individual. But then it finally dawned on me that I was usually just “winging it”. I was setting off without a plan or direction. 

Most people start their days without a roadmap and end up aimlessly wandering around what’s important, wasting time along the way. Sadly, those who choose to skip planning mistakenly believe they are saving time, a folly obvious to your boss, co-workers, and clients.

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Honestly, 5 minutes is all you need to establish a short list of tasks, create a daily schedule, and prioritize your activities in the order of importance. By creating a plan each morning you’ll have much more success in follow-through on what matters most.

3. Don’t Be an Interruption Magnet

Let’s face it, some people are more open to distractions than others. Do you find yourself beginning work on a priority task only to be interrupted by a passing co-worker?

It’s possible that you are inviting distraction into your world like a magnet.

The good news is you’re not alone. This is a common form of procrastination, not following through on your priorities, and time being wasted. Fix it by learning to close your door, both physically and figuratively:

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  • Each day, choose two separate “task hours” where you can close your office door.
  • Identify important tasks where undivided attention is a priority.
  • Communicate your limited availability to your co-workers by email or sign on the door; specify options for reaching you with urgent matters during this time.
  • Silence your cellphone – shut off your ringer and create a custom voicemail greeting that details your availability.
  • Close your email client to avoid the temptation to check-in.
  • Unplug from the Internet — shutting down any potential distractions.
  • Once you’ve found success, try adding a third task hour to your routine.

Learning the self-discipline to stay on task doesn’t always come naturally. But remember — when you prioritize a task as highly important, you’re giving yourself permission to shut yourself off from interruptions.

4. End Your Silent Procrastination

Procrastination is usually easy to spot, especially when you’re playing solitaire, scrolling Facebook or gazing out the office window. But there’s another type of procrastination that involves “busywork” — working on non-essential tasks. I call it the “silent killer” because you may not even realize you’re doing anything wrong.

Any time you spend on less important activities is a step backward, especially when time-sensitive priority tasks and goals are concerned.

Stop this time-wasting sinkhole by giving your priorities some teeth:

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  • Don’t just take time to put your task list in order — understand why it is important to you and your goals, this makes easier to stay disciplined and follow through.
  • Use Time Boxing, a reliable time management practice that consists of scheduling your tasks in fixed time segments, or boxes, with specific start and finish times.
  • When you tell yourself what you should be doing and when, it reduces the intimidation factor of having large projects and open spaces of time.
  • Create task reminders using your day planner, Outlook, or by simply setting an egg timer and working until it rings.

Structuring your task time works because it provides an appealing set of instructions in your mind about when to start and when to stop.

More Articles to Boost Your Productivity

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

More by this author

Jeff Doubek

Jeff believes time management success is just a few good habits away for anyone wanting to achieve their dreams.

4 Critical Ways You Can Stop Wasting Time Today 8 Productivity Hacks to Get Out of To-Do List Purgatory

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Last Updated on June 13, 2019

10 Best Success Books You Need to Read to Be Great at Business

10 Best Success Books You Need to Read to Be Great at Business

Take a minute and think about some of the most successful people you know.

I’d bet they’re great with people, are super-productive, and think differently than most. After all, that’s how they got to be where they are today.

Jealous of them? You don’t have to be.

You can learn these same skills by studying some of the best business and success books that can help you take your game to the next level. Here’re 10 of my favorites:

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

    Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book that helped to launch a personal growth empire should be required reading for everyone who wants to learn how to build and nurture relationships for a lifetime.

    Read this book and you’ll learn some simple advice than can help you build popularity points within your current network and just as important, expand it to others.

    Get the book here!

    2. Focal Point by Brian Tracy

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      Got a lot on your to-do list? Of course you do. But what separates productive people from others is their ability to focus on a singular task at a time, and getting it done before moving on to the next one.

      Sounds simple in theory, but this can be extremely difficult in practice. In Focal Point Brian Tracy offers tips to help build discipline and organization into your day so you can get more stuff done.

      Get the book here!

      3. Purple Cow by Seth Godin

        Creating a “me-too” product can be easy at the start but can doom you to business failure. That’s why marketing maverick Seth Godin recommends creating a product that is truly different from anything already available in the marketplace.

        In essence by making the product different you’ll be building the marketing into the actual product development…which just makes your actual marketing a helluva lot easier.

        Get the book here!

        4. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

          If you’ve struggled with procrastination or small thinking, this is the book for you. In it Schwartz offers practical advice that can help you get inspired and motivated to create a bigger life for yourself. And with it can be a more lucrative and rewarding career.

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          Get the book here!

          5. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankel

            It can be difficult for lots of people to keep things in perspective, especially when working on high priority and urgent projects at work.

            Man’s Search for Meaning can be a life-changing book in the sense that it can open your eyes to a first-hand experience of one of the greatest atrocities in the history of mankind, while also teaching a valuable lesson about having purpose.

            Get the book here!

            6. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

              Solo-entrepreneurs can learn a ton from the guy who made lifestyle design popular. But guess what? The 4HWW isn’t just for guys and girls who want to start a small online business.

              Smart moves like outsourcing, following the 80/20 rule, and automating processes should be made by entry-level workers and established executives alike.

              Get the book here!

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              7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

                I remember sitting on a couch and opening this book on a Saturday morning, thinking I’d get through a chapter and then get on with my day. Instead, about 12 hours later, I was finished with the book. The concepts in it were mind-blowing to me.

                To think that thoughts can create your reality sounded a little far-fetched at first. But after going through the book and understanding that your thoughts create your beliefs, which lead to actions, which then lead to habits….well you can get where I’m going with this.

                If you focus your thoughts on success, achieving it will be much more likely than thinking about obstacles, failures and everything else that can get in your way.

                Get the book here!

                8. The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard

                  If you’re going to read one management book in your life, this should be it. It’s simple. You can read it in an afternoon. And the advice works.

                  Get the book here!

                  9. The Lean Start-Up by Eric Ries

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                    Before you create any sort of business you’ll want to give Lean Start-Up a read through. Doing so can save you money, time and other resources you could have potentially wasted otherwise.

                    Get the book here!

                    10. The Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar

                      The story Randy Komisar shares in the Monk and the Riddle offers advice about not just about how you need to think when starting a new business, but also about how to build a life you’re passionate about.

                      Understanding the technical aspects of launching a start-up is great, but if you don’t have the staying power to stick with it when the going gets tough then it’s not likely to work.

                      This book can help you understand this lesson before you spend blood, sweat and tears on a project that you’re heart isn’t into.

                      Get the book here!

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