15 Ways You Are Wasting Time During the Day

15 Ways You Are Wasting Time During the Day
From Lifehack - April 9, 2018

Do you ever feel like you just dont have enough time? Are you always rushing from one responsibility to the next with no time for yourself? Do you just have the feeling that you are wasting time?

Youre not alone.

According to a Gallup poll, 61 percent of working Americans claim they dont have enough time to do what they want.1

On top of that, 68 percent of people feel they arent getting enough rest (with significant crossover between these populations likely). 2

But is this really a result of being overloaded with responsibilities? Or is it simply a product of poor time management?

In this article, well examine all the ways that youre wasting time, and how to stop doing so starting right now.

Compensate for Wasted Time

Chances are, you gravitated to the first possibilityafter all, being busy has become a kind of status symbol in the United States.

But if theres even a chance that youre wasting time without realizing it, you could be saddling yourself with far more hours worth of responsibilities than necessary on a daily basis.

Accordingly, you owe it to yourselfand the people around youto take notice of the time-wasting habits you didnt even know you had and start applying solutions to correct them.

You might be an effective time manager, but that doesnt mean youre perfect. Chances are good that at least some of these tricks can help you stop wasting time:

1. Track Your Bad Email Habits

Youre probably wasting time on email without realizing it, whether its taking too much time to draft your messages, allowing your email threads to spiral to unmanageable proportions, or allowing unproductive contacts to interfere with your day.

We spend 6.3 hours a day checking email, so its almost certain that a large chunk of wasted time is happening in your inbox.3 The only way to tell for sure is to use an analytics app such as EmailAnalytics to analyze your email habits and pinpoint where youre wasting the most time.

Once you recognize your problem areas, come up with a plan for how to address it. For example, you might resolve to start fewer conversation threads, or set a 10-minute limit for yourself when drafting a new email.

2. Just Say No

Its hard to say no to anything, whether its a new assignment from a boss, or a social gathering from one of your best friends. Unfortunately, each yes you give is a new segment of time youll have to spend doing something that may or may not be beneficial for you in the long run.

Saying no could free up hours of your time with each instance, and as long as youre polite and respectful, there likely wont be any consequences. As an added bonus, saying no can empower you to make fewer accommodations, and possibly command more respect from your boss and teammates.

3. Make Faster Decisions

You spend more time in a state of indecision than you realize. You might have an internal debate over whether to start that project now, at 4 pm, or just wait to start it tomorrow morning.

You might not take action on a task because you know theres a possibility youll delegate it in the future.

In any case, every minute you spend thinking about your decision is a potential minute wastedassuming theres no new information to consider. Aim to make faster decisions, and youll cut this time waste out of your life immediately.

4. Set Limits and Stick to Them

How often do you check your social media feeds throughout the day, or find yourself wandering to that mobile game you downloaded?

Chances are, you waste more time on these intentionally time-sucking apps than you know. Fortunately, there are ways to set time limits for yourself so you can reduce this time to a fixed, reasonable figure.

If you use an iOS device, you can use Apples Guided Access to restrict the accessibility of other apps on your phone, or if youre on Android, you can use an app like AppDetox to set careful limits for specific apps you know to waste your time.

5. Take Plenty of Breaks

In the middle of your workday, its natural to think that spending just one more hour on work, rather than taking a lunch break, will result in higher productivitybut thats not necessarily the case.

Working too long without a break will make it harder for you to focus on work, which means a task that ordinarily takes 30 minutes might take 45 minutes or even longer.

Research suggests the ideal work-break ratio is working for 52 minutes, then breaking for 17but this is going to vary based on the type of work youre doing and, of course, your individual preferences.

The bottom line is that you need to take more breaks throughout the day if you want to make the most of your working hours; otherwise, youll waste energy.

6. Flip Complaints Into Action

Everybody complains from time to time, whether its a cathartic venting session or a bid to gain social support for a common problem.

Unfortunately, complaining is a poor way to spend your time; complaints generally wont make you feel better, and wont do anything to change the situation that frustrated you in the first place. Instead of complaining, create an action item.

For example, if youre angry that youre stuck in traffic, make a mental note to leave for work earlier tomorrow. If the deli gets your order wrong, opt to try a different deli next time. If your app isnt working, switch to a different task temporarily.

7. Disable Distracting Notifications

Distractions may seem like they only waste a few seconds of your time, but research shows it takes more than 23 minutes to fully recover your focus after getting distracted. 4

Notifications from things like email and instant message platforms, regardless of their intended purpose, will almost certainly pull you away from whatever task youre focusing on.

Consider turning them off; you might be offline for a few hours, but youll get so much more done. Depending on your workplace culture, you may need to send a proactive heads-up to let people know when and for how long youre going offline.

8. Maximize Your Commute

Unless youre working from home, youre spending time commuting every morning.

With the average commute in the United States being roughly 25 minutes each way, that probably means youre wasting around 5 hours a week just in necessary travel. Since theres no way to get rid of that time, your best option here is to maximize that time.

9. Skip Meetings

11. Delegate Tasks to Others

12. Do One Thing at a Time

13. Declutter Your Space

14. Lower the Bar

15. Mind Your Phrasing

Reclaim Your Time


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