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Top 20 Time Wasters and the Top 5 Worthwhile Activities

Top 20 Time Wasters and the Top 5 Worthwhile Activities

As we all shift gears back into September routines, this is a great time to take a look at how you spend — and waste — your time. Check your activities against this list:

Top 20 Time Wasters

  1. Facebook — I don’t think I really need to explain this to any of you. If you’re reading Lifehack, you’re savvy enough to know that Facebook (and other social media) can be a huge black hole for time.
  2. Photo taking, organizing, uploading, and posting — While we all love to share our best moments with our friends, if you start doing this a lot, it can be a huge time waster. Every photo needs to be uploaded, captioned, and share. Unless you are a professional photographer, limit the time you spend on photos.
  3. Momento-gathering — This is an extension of the last item. You can waste a lot of time collecting and organizing momentos. Extra-special pieces are great, but just trash the boring stuff. Momentos can be electronic too, and if they need organizing, they take up your time.
  4. Personal Grooming — Personal hygiene is essential but if you spend more than 5 minutes on your hair, you might think about how to reduce that time.
  5. Exercise — Exercise itself is very important, but you don’t need to spend a lot of time on it. Go for an intense workout in 20-30 minutes, rather than a 2-hour affair. Which brings me to…
  6. Affairs — If you want to keep more than one relationship on the go, well, all I can say is good luck with that! It’s not going to be easy and it’s going to take a lot of time.
  7. Playing Games — It was Plants vs. Zombies for a while. Then Angry Birds… What games do you like to play? While a little bit of gaming is great recreation, just be aware of the time you spend. You might even want to literally log the time and see how much it adds up over a week. Decide how many hours you are willing to waste on your game(s) of choice and then limit yourself. Willpower required.
  8. TV — This is, in my opinion, the worst culprit of all. 99% of the time, it’s not useful, helpful or recreational in the true meaning of the word. Lots of shows try to sell themselves as being informative or educational, but they aren’t. For example, how much do you really need to know about ancient battles? TV is an horrendous time waster. Don’t be one of those people who lose 20+ hours a week in front of the flatscreen!
  9. Watching movies — This is a small step up from TV — at least you aren’t being bombarded with commercials. But one 90-minute movie a day adds up to 10.5 hours per week, and that’s a lot of time lost. Why not make watching a movie a special treat?
      YouTube (or other online streaming video)
      — Need I say more? Either limit your raw time spent or limit the number of “related videos” you let yourself watch. Or go cold-turkey. YouTube is a cruel master!
    • Going for a Coffee — While you may love that espresso every day, how much time does it take to drive to the coffee shop, stand in line or wait in the drive thru, pay and then drive to wherever you were really going? You could save some time by getting really great beans and making your own at home or the office.
    • Being Sick — It is a better investment in your time to eat healthy and keep your immune system strong than lose time being sick. If you are sick, focus on getting well than just “biding the time” watching TV or complaining to anyone and everyone on Facebook!
    • Reading junky books — I hesitate to say this, but reading can be a time-waster. Think about what you’re reading and why. But please, still encourage young people to read anything and everything, just to improve their reading skills.
    • Commuting — Add up the time spent going to/from work every day and see if there is a way to reduce it. Carpool if you can — you can use the time spent riding to do things on the way. Or, see if your employer would agree to let you work one day a week from home, or work 35 hours in 4 days instead of 5. There are many options if your commute is a killer.
    • Shopping — We all need groceries, but do you need to drive across town to that bulk store and spend four hours on a Saturday filling a gigantic cart? Have you done the math to see how much money you are actually saving? Might your time be worth something? How about unnecessary clothes, gadget or phone shopping? Can you save some time going to a closer store rather than driving across town? This is especially important if you get into a habit of driving extra — time lost multiplies when you do something daily or weekly.
    • Online Shopping — This is a variation of the above point, but it bears mentioning separately. So you need to order this-or-that specific product online. Time yourself. Give it 5 minutes — get it done. Don’t be distracted by other products, or “other customers also bought” items. Don’t do any extreme product comparison or research (unless it’s something you’ve never bought before and you really need to). Shopping for apps can be a time-eater, too.
    • Accounting — Depending on your situation, your system and your accounting skill, it might be a major time saver to just pay someone to do it for you. Or, you might be able to streamline your system to do a little at a time rather than losing huge chunks of time in tax season.
    • Organizing/Moving files on your computer — Try to put things where they belong the first time, so that you don’t have to go searching for them later or spend time organizing them. On the other hand, maybe you lose time just “fiddling” with things on your computer — looking through your downloads folder or mucking around with folder hierarchies.
    • Cleaning House — Depending on your situation, it might be a good use of time to hire a maid to come in and keep your place clean. Think about time spent, check on the costs of a maid, and do the math. Before you buy a big house, consider the time it will take to clean it!
    • Obsessions — Whether it’s reading conspiracy theory websites or tracking down your 16th generation genealogy, our hobbies can become obsessions if we do them uncontrollably. Make sure that anything you spend a lot of time on hasn’t become an unbalanced fascination and if it has, try and cut the strings. Get help if you need to.

    So that’s a fairly comprehensive list of time wasters (add any I’ve forgotten in the comments). Remember, we aren’t just saving time so we can work more. With more time available, you can make time for the…

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    Top 5 Worthwhile Things

    1. Connecting with Friends and/or Family. Having a network of close friends you can let your guard down around is extremely important. Don’t turn down your friends to work on your hobby alone. Don’t stay home from your weekly meetup group because you feel grumpy — going out will cheer you up. Doing social things is important for your mental and physical health and should be balanced carefully with work and family. Do the things that make life worth living.
    2. Eating good food, slowly. With all that time you saved by eliminating time wasters above, you have an extra 15 minutes to eat slowly and taste your food. Ideally, it would be great to buy groceries and cook food at home — there are less preservatives and chemicals this way — but if you can’t do that, at least eat the healthiest foods you can find and take your time. Eat more raw veggies, and for pete’s sake, stop for a minute after you swallow that last bite!
    3. Being reliable for your kids’ sake. If you said you’d take them to practice or go see their recital, get them there on time and make them feel like it’s your priority. Let them know they can count on you by your actions and they will feel loved! Isn’t that what every parent wants — for their kids to feel supported and loved? If you don’t have kids, the same principle applies to your spouse, or others close to you. It is always worthwhile to plan a little buffer time around those sorts of important events to make sure that you aren’t rushed or stressed going into them.
    4. Being in Nature. I am a huge fan of spending true recreation time — re-creating yourself — in nature. Go for a walk, or run an errand on your bicycle or on foot. True recreation should get your mind off your daily stresses and let your mind relax, and nothing does that like being in nature. I have heard that the colour blue is a calming colour, and what is more calming that lying on your back under a blue sky? Green is invigorating, and sunlight filtering through green leaves is the ultimate “green experience.” Watching sunsets (or sunrises), cloud gazing, bird watching, or watching boats in the harbour are all great outdoorsy recreation. Time in nature can be combined with exercise, but doesn’t have to be. In fact, time in nature can be combined with any one of the other 4 Worthwhile Things.
    5. Laugh more. Play more. Worry less! Donald Cooper says in his Accelerate Your Business workshops, “trust the process.” All your hard work will pay off. Do the steps you feel are best, and don’t worry. Give yourself time to play. Stay lighthearted — your brain works better this way, and your stress levels will decrease. Forgive the world for not being perfect. Forgive yourself. Stay in the present and see how much you can enjoy this very moment, now.

    (Photo credit: Wasting time concept via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on July 23, 2019

    What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

    What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)

    If you have so many things to do that you often find yourself struggling to finish projects and tasks and move on to other stuff, you’re certainly not alone. Studies show that over 20 percent of the adult population put off or avoid doing certain tasks by allowing themselves to be overtaken by distractions.[1]

    So what is procrastination? And what can you do to prevent procrastination?

    In this article, I am going to explain to youwhy procrastination is so difficult to beat and how you can stop procrastinating once and for all by following a step-by-step guide. But first, you need to understand how procrastination happens.

    What Is Procrastination?

    Piers Steel, the author of the book The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done, defines procrastination in this way:[2]

    “Procrastination is to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.”

    In other words, procrastination is doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones. The end result is that important tasks are put off to a later time.

    This comic is one of the typical examples of procrastination:

      The Challenge of Getting Over Procrastination

      Human beings have limited self-control. Dr. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist from Florida State University, has been studying self-control and he has found that just like any muscles, human’s self-control is a limited resource that can quickly become exhausted.[3] When self-control is close to being depleted, human tend to choose what’s more pleasurable– the immediate procrastinated tasks instead of the actual works.

      At its core, procrastination is an avoidance strategy. Procrastinators choose to do something else instead of doing what they need to do because it’s much easier to choose pleasure over pain.

      In short, procrastination is so difficult to beat because it is a battle against human’s natural enemy, a human weakness that is in-born.

      How to Stop Procrastinating (Step-By-Step Guide)

      Despite the fact that it’s human nature to seek for immediate rewards and procrastinate, here I have a step-by-step guide for you to follow so as to stop procrastinating.

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      1. Identify Your Triggers: The 5 Types of Procrastinator

      Identifying the type of procrastination you personally experience is an essential step for you to fix the problem at its root.

      Take a look at this flowchart here to find out what type of procrastinator you are:

        Which type of procrastinator are you? Let’s take a look at the triggers for your procrastination type:

        Perfectionist

        Being perfect is the pleasure perfectionists want. But often this leads to them being too scared to show any imperfections. Because of this, they frequently fail to complete things, as they’re forever seeking the perfect timing or approach. Tasks end up never being completed, because in the eyes of the perfectionist, things are never perfect enough.

        Instead of finishing something, perfectionists get caught up in a never-ending cycle of additions, edits, and deletions.

        Ostrich

        An ostrich prefers to stay in the dreaming stage. That way, they don’t have to work for real, or deal with any negativity or stress.

        Dreaming gives this type of people a false sense of achievement, as in their minds, they envision big, ambitious plans. Unfortunately for them, these plans will most likely stay as dreams, and they’ll never accomplish anything truly worthwhile.

        Self-Saboteur

        A self-saboteur has bought into the line that ‘by doing nothing, bad things won’t happen.’

        In reality, self-saboteurs have developed a fear of making mistakes or doing anything wrong. Their way to avoid these mishaps, is to do nothing at all. In the end, they may make few mistakes – but they also see few accomplishments.

        Daredevil

        Daredevils are those who believe that deadlines can push them to do better. Instead of having a schedule to complete their work – they prefer to enjoy time doing their own thing before the deadline comes around.

        It’s most likely an unconscious thing, but daredevils evidently believe that starting early will sacrifice their time for pleasure. This is reinforced in their minds and feelings, by the many times they manage to get away with burning the midnight oil. Often they sacrifice the quality of their work because of rushing it.

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        Chicken

        Chickens lack the ability to prioritize their work. They do what they feel like they should do, rather than thinking through what they really need to do.

        Prioritizing tasks is a step that takes extra time, so chicken will feel it’s not worth it. Because of this, they usually end up doing a lot of effortless tasks that don’t contribute much to a project. They’re incessantly busy on low-impact tasks, but seem oblivious to urgent, high-impact tasks.

        2. Face Your Triggers and Get Rid of Them

        Whether it’s fear of failure, overwhelming feelings, avoidance or convincing yourself you’re just too busy to get something done, you can improve your ability to be productive by eliminating your procrastination triggers.

        For Perfectionists, Re-Clarify Your Goals

        Much of the time procrastination tendencies form simply because we’ve outgrown our goals. We’re ever-changing and so are our wants in life. Try looking over your goals and ask yourself if they’re still what you want.

        Take time out to regroup and ask yourself what you really want to achieve:

        • What steps do you need to take?
        • Is what you’re currently doing reflecting what you want?
        • What do you need to change?

        Write things down, scribble them out and rewrite.

        For Ostriches, Do the Difficult Tasks First

        Even if you feel you’re not a morning person, the beginning of the day is when your brain is most productive. Use this window of time to get the more difficult stuff done.

        If you leave your difficult tasks to later, you’re much more likely to put it off because you’re tired and lack motivation.

        Finishing lots of simple tasks at the beginning of the day such as reading all the new emails only gives you a false sense of being productive.

        For Self-Saboteurs, Write out a To-Do (And a Not–To-Do) List Each Day

        Writing things down is powerful and psychologically increases your need to get things done.

        Each day, make a habit of creating a list of the tasks you know you’ll try and avoid. By doing this, it brings these ‘difficult’ tasks to your mind’s attention instead of keeping them locked away somewhere in your avoidance mode.

        Remember, think how satisfying and productive it feels to cross of a completed task.

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        For Daredevils, Create a Timeline with Deadlines

        It’s common to have a deadline for a goal which seems like a good idea. But this is basically an open invitation for procrastination.

        If it’s a self-created deadline with no pressure, we tend to justify pushing it back each time it comes into sight and feel we haven’t yet done ‘enough’ to get there.

        Create a bigger timeline then within that, establish deadlines along the way. The beauty of this comes when each deadline completion is dependent on the next. It keeps you on track and keeps you accountable for being in alignment with the overall timeline.

        For Chickens, Break Tasks into Bite-Sized Pieces

        A lot of the time procrastination comes from overwhelming thoughts.

        If something feels too big to tackle and we don’t know where to start, it feels like a struggle. This is also true if our goal is too vague and lacking direction.

        Break down larger tasks into smaller ones and turn them into daily or weekly goals. Smaller steps may seem like the slower approach to achieving a goal, but it often leads you much more quickly to where you want to be due to the powerful momentum you get going.

        3. Take Planned Breaks

        The human brain isn’t designed to work continuously on the same task and this could be a reason for procrastination.

        Make sure you take regular, structured breaks away from your task so that you can come back refreshed and ready to be more productive.

        A break as short as 5 minutes is enough to keep your mind sharp and wards off fatigue. I recommend you to use the Pomodoro Time Tracker. It is a great tool to help you take breaks at set intervals. Simply start the 25-minute timer, and follow the prompts.

          4.  Reward Yourself

          It’s important to acknowledge and reward yourself for achieving even the small tasks. It creates a sense of motivation and releases those feel-good, productive emotions that spur you on to achieve even more.

          Make your reward proportional to the task you completed so getting a bite-sized task done gets you a cup of your favourite coffee or snack. Then plan a weekend away or fun activity for the bigger stuff.

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          Personally I try to make staying focus more fun by using the app Forest. It turns productivity into a game. In the game, you can plant a virtual tree at the beginning of your work time. If you maintain focus for the duration of the timer, you’ll grow a tree to add to your forest. It’s rewarding when you can eventually grow a forest.

            5. Keep Track of Your Time in a Smart Way

            If you want to prevent the bad habit of procrastination from coming back, keep track of the time you spend every day.

            By having a clear idea of where you spend your time, you can always review your productivity and know which areas to improve.

            It’s not easy to keep track of every minute you spend throughout the day so I recommend you to use the app Rescue Time.

            It gets you a categorized breakdown of how you spend your time and helps you to find out how much time you’re really on-task. You can even label activities as productive and non-productive so as to block your biggest distractions.

              The Bottom Line

              Procrastination exists for many reasons and only you know for yourself what these triggers are.

              Understanding what procrastination really is and the source of your avoidance tendencies is important in moving them out of the way and help you start the productivity momentum.

              Make procrastination under your control!

              More About Procrastination

              Reference

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