Time wasters prevent us from living the life we want. We all want to be productive and accomplish our goals, but sometimes we find ourselves wasting our time. And it is time to address them.
Here are the 10 biggest time wasters in 2019 along with suggestions on how to eliminate them for good.
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1. Disorganized Files
We live at at a time when most of our files are electronic, especially the work ones. And if you do not have your files well organized into folders and labeled correctly, then you probably spend a lot of time looking for them.
This is definitely an area that I’m constantly working on. I cannot tell you how many times in the past I had looked for a file on my computer. It is usually something that I field away a few months prior. My mistake in the past was either not having appropriate names for either the folder or the document itself. And when you don’t know the title of the document, or the title is specific enough to help you figure out what is in the document, you will waste a lot of time searching for it.
TIP: Develop an effective system to file your electronic documents.
You cannot talk about time wasters in 2019 without mentioning the phones. Don’t get me wrong. Technology is awesome. And if used appropriately it can save you a lot of time.
However, if you are not paying attention to how much time you actually spend on your phone, you will waste a lot of your time on mindless scrolling through your social media, watching videos/shows, or playing games.
I’m not saying you should not use your phone for entertainment. What I’m saying is that we have to be intentional with your time. If you say to yourself, I want to take a short break from working and I will go on Facebook for 10 minutes. This is when you should set up a timer for 10 minutes. Because if you don’t set your limits, you will find yourself ‘lost’ on social media for much longer than ten minutes. It happened to me on many occasions and I’m sure I’m not alone with this 😉
TIP: Set timers on your phone to set limits on social media browsing.
3. Comparing Ourselves to Others
Not only is it a big time waster, but it also is a form of negative talk to yourself. We tend to look at what other people do or have and compare it to ourselves.
Maybe you keep comparing where you are with your career to another coworker who is the same age as you are. Or perhaps, you have started blogging a few months ago and you started having doubts because there are so many other blogger who are much more successful than you are.
What you have to remember is that you cannot compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle. We all have different circumstances. We all have unique lifestyles and situations. As Rachel Hollis would say:
“Comparison is the death of all joy, and the only person you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday.”
So don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others. There is nothing for you to gain by doing so. But you have plenty of time to lose.
TIP: Concentrate on what you, and not others, are doing.
4. Not Having a Plan
We all have dreams and goals. But if you do not have a plan for how to realize your dreams or how to accomplish your goals, then you are wasting your time.
Instead of wishing that something will happen, take action. Start thinking about what actions you need to take. What needs to happen to make your dream a reality? Having this kind of brainstorming session with yourself and making an actual plan will help you stay focused and accomplish your goal.
TIP: Write down your dreams and create a plan on how to realize them.
5. Working on Multiple Tasks at the Same Time
If you have read some of my posts before, you know that I believe multitasking makes you less productive. While it was a ‘hot’ ability to have on your resume when I was looking for my first job after college, I have learned over the years that it is one of the biggeset time wasters.
Anytime I would try to multitask, I noticed that it takes me twice as long to complete those tasks. Because our brains are not capable of fully concentrating on two things at the same time.
This is something we have to be aware of, especially given the type of technology we have in 2019. For example, it is so easy to start answering your emails when you are on a conference call. But I promise you that you will not get anything out of that conference call. The only thing that might get your attention is someone calling your name. And then it will become really obvious that you were not paying attention 😉
So stop wasting your time! One task at a time is a way to go.
TIP: Create a habit of working on one task at a time.
6. Not Asking Questions to Clarify
This is probably mostly applicable in a work setting. Did you ever receive a request from your superior or you customer and even though you were not 100 % sure what the task was, you chose not to ask the clarifying question.
Why? Perhaps you were thinking that you will come off as not competent in your job. Or maybe you were afraid that your question would sound stupid?
But what if you complete the task but it is not what the customer/superior wanted? Would that make you look competent? Personally, I always choose to ask the question, then deliver something that is not usable.
Not asking questions is definitely a big time waster.
TIP: Ask clarifying questions to better understand the needs of the other person.
7. Not Having Routines
If you are doing similar things on daily or weekly basis, and don’t have a routine, you are wasting your time trying to figure out what you should be doing next. Think about your mornings. Are you running around each day rushing and fighting with your kids so they can eat breakfast, find their shoes, and get their backpacks ready? Or maybe you find yourself overwhelmed and not prepared for the upcoming week each Sunday evening. And you start going from task to task trying to set up for the week.
These are the time when routines would save you a lot of time. Routines, especially for things like mornings, evening, and weekends are great to save you time and energy. And kids really love them. My 6-year-old and 3-year-old know exactly what we will be doing each morning before we head out to school and daycare. This eliminated most of the complaints and questions about what to do, how to do it,and when to do it.
TIP: Establish a morning and evening routines.
8. Lack of Checklists and Templates
If you don’t have checklists and templates for things that you do on regular basis, you are most likely wasting a lot of your time.
Are you hosting a Christmas Dinner every year? Instead of creating a long to-do every single year, why not develop a checklist that you can re-use each Christmas time. You can always make minor tweaks but there is no reason to re-invent the wheel.
Same thing with templates. These probably are most applicable in a work setting. If you have to provide similar information to potential customers, create a template. Or maybe you keep answering the same questions from the vendors or companies you work with. This would be a great time to create a template for yourself that you can use as a baseline and customize it, depending on a specific situation.
TIP: Create checklists and templates for things that you do on regular basis.
9. Doing Things Twice
We can waste a lot of our time when we don’t do things the right way the first time and we have to do it again. And most often, this happens because we were in a hurry and decided to take shortcuts.
Let me give you my personal example. In my previous position, I used to provide a monthly presentation to my customers. The data that I used for the presentation was from a spreadsheet report, that I would review every month. I remember very vividly, how one month I was in a time crunch and decided not to bother with that step (after all, I never found any errors). As I was finishing up my presentation, I was actually on the very last slide, I realized that something was off with the tables. I went back to the spreadsheet and realized that the data was completely wrong – it was from the different month!
And guess what? I had to redo the entire presentation. Talk about waste of time!
So the lesson here is to be diligent with what you are doing. Don’t risk having to do the same thing twice, only because you decided to take a shortcut.
TIP: Don’t take shortcuts! Do things right the first time.
10. Doing Things We Don’t Enjoy
The last time waster in 2019 is doing things that we don’t enjoy. We live in a society where there is a lot of pressure from social media, as well as our family and friends to do things they think we should do. It could be anything: having home cooked meals every night, using cloth diapers, participating in all PTO activities, or attending happy hour events at work. It really does not matter what the activity is.
The point is that if you are doing something that you don’t enjoy but do it anyway because someone else thinks you should – STOP. Don’t waste your time doing things you don’t enjoy. Instead, use that time to do what you always wanted to do but can never find time for it.
TIP: Do what you enjoy! This is your life.
What is your biggest time waster? Please comment below.
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