No matter what your goals are whether they be professional, personal, or academic there are many things in our daily lives that suck the time away from us. In the age of constant connectivity it is more important now than ever to prioritize where we invest our time. A lot of times, people meander around aimlessly because they are in a rut. Other times we just make excuses for everything and don’t get anything done.
Stop Watching So Much TV
Probably the most mentioned of all the time wasters, watching TV can literally suck the only hours you have left out of your life. Stop and think for a moment, if you don’t have kids, you probably go home around 6-7pm, you eat, take a shower, so you’re settled in by 8pm. You watch a couple hours of TV and then you go to bed.
I’m not saying this isn’t relaxing, I’m sure it is. But what about your plans for your own business, that book you want to write, or that new class you want to take? When will you do it? On the weekend? Maybe.
Here’s my advice, leave the TV watching for Friday nights. That’s a whole 8 hours you’ll gain during the work week.
Instead of going straight to the tube after dinner and your shower, get started on that business plan, start writing the first chapter of your book or go and sign up for that class.
Stop Wasting Time on Social Media
Do I need to say anymore? There ‘s enough crap to do on Facebook to kill an entire day. Hell, it is seriously becoming an addiction for people.
From chatting to messaging and the games -it is a time black hole.
So how do you stop spending so much time on facebook?
You can go and and deactivate your account or you can go all out and delete it. Note, even when you delete it, you still have 14 days to recover it. Consider this a sort of trial period.
For those that still want to use it for networking and keeping up with friends. I suggest uninstalling all your apps and games.
Limit yourself to 15 minutes in the morning or preferably after you have gotten everything done.
Stop Wasting Time Surfing the web
Surfing the web is a tricky one. It it easy to fool yourself into thinking that you are doing research or getting something done. But let’s look at the most common things we do online.
Let’s face it, there’s enough news to read and videos to watch to last the rest of your life. If your work involves being online all the time, here a couple of things that have helped me.
Leechblock, if you use Firefox, this addon will allow you to block sites that waste your time. You can also schedule the sites to be available at certain times. For example, if you like going to youtube but know that it wastes your time you can block yourself from it from 9am-5pm.
Another thing I find that helps with productivity while having to work online is to step back and away from the computer. I often sit down with a pen and pad on a table away from the computer and write out certain things I need to do.
Stop Texting so Much
In the last few years texting has exploded. It provides almost instant communication and in many ways it is a crutch for awkward social situations.
The temptation to text is overwhelming sometimes, whenever that new message sound goes off or when the phone vibrates with a newly arrived message it is almost too much to set it aside until later. After all, behind that new message alert can be the latest gossip, news, or joke from a friend.
Doing Busy Work vs Productive Work
So what is productivity?- doing important things
This is a tricky one since there are so many different jobs, businesses, and tasks. But I’ll leave it up to you to figure out what’s important and what’s busy work.
For example, you can spend all day filing paperwork and feel accomplished, but what has that really done to promote your business, website, or to get you further in your job?
Think of concrete tasks, for example, not just finishing that proposal, but actually contacting 10 leads you want to send it to.
Not just finishing that website, but promoting it in order to start bringing in more sales or new customers.
Think of your own situation and figure out not just what you have to get done, but what will get done.
Stop Wasting time on Email
Email can be a double edged sword. It facilitates a lot of tedious tasks that previously involved snail mail, fax, and other things. However, it can also take up a lot of time with enormous email chains and back and forth. Unless your job or business absolutely depends on it, set aside 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon to check email.
I have found that many email chains can be broken with a simple phone call.
Life’s Little Nagging Questions
So what are life’s little nagging questions? You know, should I work out today or should I pig out today? Should I watch TV or should I work on that media plan? Of course there are dozens of these everyday, but, if you follow the advice in this article, hopefully you won’t have to question what you want to do or eat or whatever, it would already be automatic or scheduled.
Wasting Time by Not Working Out
By not having a physical fitness routine, you are wasting time. Not only does it make you more productive, but it puts you in a better mood.
Other benefits of working out-specifically to include weight lifting is improved heart function, muscle mass,and just feeling damn good.
Don’t Waste Time by Trying to Change Other People’s Behavior
We’ve all done this from time to time, some people do this all the time. But stop and think how many times you have tried to change other people’s behavior?
Not literally of course unless you really want to waste time, but, for example trying to get that person that you know is always late to turn in something on time? All the while you are wasting time by either helping him along or nagging that person to death. This is a huge waste of time.
Instead, get someone else or if you are forced to work with that person set deadline dates that are well ahead of the real deadline date.
There are also people I call emotional blacks holes. Let me explain. Do you have a friend that no matter how much advice you give him, he never takes it and always ends up making the same mistakes. This is an emotional and time black hole. Be a friend, but know when you are wasting your time and energy.
Stop trying to be Perfect
What happened if I tried to include every single little thing into this article? It would be perfect-maybe, but it would also be a waste of time because A. I would have labored for weeks on end and B. Nobody would have read it all the way through. And C. most importantly, what may be perfect to me may be just good to you, because it is something very subjective.
I once worked with someone who would labor for days over one email trying to write the perfect email that included every bit of detail and explanation. The end result? The client would hardly ever read it.
Sometimes things just have to be “good enough” and not perfect. There’s a saying in medical school, “what do you call a doctor at the bottom of his class?” the answer is of course “a doctor” meaning that you could labor over trying to always get straight A’s, but in the end if you still accomplish what you set out to do, that is good enough even if it isn’t perfect.
I hope that the time you have invested in reading this article will pay for itself many times over.
Remember, to change any habit you need a minimum of 30 days of doing it. So pick one of these behaviors and try altering it for 30 days. Good Luck!