I’m going to bring up one of my favorite subjects, the hamster wheel of life. That’s the wheel we all get on just about every day. The one where we get lost in all the fun tasks and duties we have to do to keep our lives going. Work, eat, sleep, laundry, mowing, cooking, cleaning the house, washing the car, etc. The list goes on and on. And let’s be honest, these type activities, unless we figure out a way to make them fun, are a HUGE time suck. And since we spend so much time on these things that simply keep us moving day by day, it’s important not to waste even more time. Yet many of us do. So if you like to lose even more of your precious life, here is more ways of how to waste your time.
What is a Waste of Time
Now there’s a lot of things we should and could do that we can lump into the “wasting time” category. I recently changed jobs and I now work from home 80% or more of the time. I used to drive between 1 – 1.5 hours to and from work every day. Was that a waste? Not really because I had to get to work. Am I happy I don’t waste the 5-7 hours a week I used to spend driving to and from work? Heck yes!
The point is this. Lots of things we do every day can seem like a waste of time. Sometimes I think eating is a waste of time because it can take so much time cooking, eating, and cleaning up. But I gotta eat. See my point? We can minimize the time it takes to do certain things we have to do. That being said it’s super easy to lose even more of our precious time. Here are but a few ways of how to waste your time.
Staring at Your Phone Constantly
You knew this one was high on the list. II use my phone all the time too. I use for personal and for work. It helps me. After all, it’s a smart phone! The issue isn’t having a phone, it’s allowing the phone to become your crutch. I want you to imagine how many notifications you get in one day that causes your head to swivel over towards you phone. Kinda hard to count that high isn’t it? When looking at your phone becomes a default setting (and many people are guilty of this) I think it’s a problem. One of the best ways to combat this is to turn off most notifications and to consciously put your phone away sometimes. Especially when you are interacting with other people.
Living in the Past
Look, I get it. It’s super easy to get stuck living in the past. Wondering why you chose to do one thing instead of another. Wondering if you made the right choice. Thinking about why your parent’s weren’t nicer to you when you were a kid. Or why you didn’t get the name brand clothes like everyone else. Why you made a dumb mistake that screwed up a great relationship. Trying to remember what started the fight with your sister last year. The list goes on and on. The more we live in the past simply means the less we live in the present. Stop constantly thinking about “what could have been” and focus on what can be. Living in your head isn’t bad from time to time. Rehashing huge chunks of your life that have gone by is a waste of time and energy.
Here’s the thing. Do you notice how much people complain? Unless you are a chronic complainer then, well, this section is for you. Constant complaining is a huge waste of your time. Why? Because you lose tons of time pissing and moaning about why something isn’t the way you want it instead of doing something about it. It’s easy to complain, you don’t have to do anything except use your pie hole. What’s not easy is doing something about the situation you’re always complaining about. That you get out of breath walking up a flight of stairs. You boss being hard on you, again. Why your spouse doesn’t help with the laundry more. The fact that your kids won’t lift their heads from the phones to talk to you. Your yard being half dead. Not getting invited to various social gatherings for some reason or another (maybe because you complain too much). If something bothers you enough do something about it. If it doesn’t then leave it alone and move on.
Getting Sucked into Drama
I have 2 teenage daughters so I know a thing or two about getting sucked into drama. Unfortunately some people seem to live for drama. Stay far away from these people. Getting sucked into drama will only waste your time and energy. It’s like a double whammy. It not only wastes your time but it also leaves you feeling emotionally drained. And for what? Exactly. Nothing good comes out of excessive drama. Try your best to minimize your exposure to people who like to create drama in their lives as well as others. It’s fun for a little amusement value but don’t get too close.
Letting Email Rule Your Work Life
It’s hard to not respond to email quickly. At least it is for me. And I know there’s a lot of people in the same mindset as me. Unfortunately managing your day by primarily responding to emails is not the best way to be productive at work. It’s actually very unproductive because you keep jumping from task to task like a bunny on an electrified floor. Do your best to check email on a scheduled basis. I typically check mine first thing when I log it (and this is not what’s considered a best practice either). I give myself 15-20 minutes to respond to things that need attention then I focus on the things I want to get done that day. Throughout the day I give myself email breaks where I got back to tending to the never ending stream of incoming emails. Trying to run your day by responding to all the emails is not the way to get your best work done. It simply means you are working according to the priorities of others.
We all live in the cult of busyness. For some reason our society has led us to believe that the busier we are the more important we are. And thus multi tasking was born. You know the drill. You’re listening in on a webinar while typing an email and working on a spreadsheet. And your mind is already on the next 3 tasks you have to complete. Because you are important and busy. That’s BS. Do some research and you will find that much of the time you are actually LESS productive when you are multi tasking. The reason being is that you aren’t really concentrating on anything very much because your attention is spread so thin. Often times we are much more productive, and less wasteful of our time, when we focus on one thing at time.
Doing What You’ve Been Told To Do
Here’s what I am getting at. Don’t get towards the end of your life and think to yourself “I wish I wouldn’t have only done what I was supposed to do”. Make sure you take the time to do the things that are important to you. That might be starting your own business or raising 4 kids to happy adulthood. Maybe that’s taking the trip of your dreams or traveling the world for a year. Could be that you never told someone how you really felt or made the move you always wanted to. The problem is we are all told what the right thing to do is. Go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, save for retirement, etc. If this is what you are sure you want then by all means go for it. If there’s something else that might fulfill you make sure you do it. Don’t let doing what everyone else does be yet another way of how to waste your time.
Waiting For The Right Time
It’s never exactly the right time. Don’t waste your time waiting for the timing to be right. It’s never precisely the right time to have a baby. Or to ask someone to marry you. Even to ask for the raise you know your deserve. And starting your own business. Or getting your own band started. Stop waiting for the time to be exactly right before you do it. Because it’s a huge waste of time waiting for the right time.
Being Indecisive about Everything
By nature I am a fairly decisive person. I can’t stand the feeling of having too many outstanding issues. I might not always make the best choices (whatever the definition of best might be) but I am decisive. My thought process is that precious time is wasting when we waver on every single decision. To me some decisions are pretty big like whether to leave a relationship or take a new job or put your parent in a nursing home. Those are big decisions and should be carefully considered. But so many decision are not on that level so I try not to let them take up too much mental energy. I made a nice bonus? Cool, I’ve got no shortage of places it can go so I quickly decide where to spend it. Need new tires for the car? Okay, I’ll do 30 minutes of research and phone calls and book a place. Easy man, let’s get this done.
Beating Yourself Up
We all make mistakes all the time. Anyone who acts like they don’t is full of s**t. Sometimes we make little mistakes like putting the ketchup where it shouldn’t go. Sometimes we make bigger mistakes like saying something mean that hurts someone’s feelings. We all make mistakes all the time. If we are smart we learn from those mistakes and change our behavior appropriately so we don’t do it again. Where it becomes another way of how to waste your time is when you keep kicking yourself over and over for making the same mistake. What’s the point? Exactly, there isn’t one. All it does is waste time and makes your feel bad again and again. If you screwed up say you are sorry in a sincere way, do what it takes to fix the situation and move on.
As one of my most inspiring writers Don Miguel Luiz said in The Four Agreements “The human is the only animal on earth that pays a thousand times for the same mistake”.
Here’s one of my favorite sayings of all time. “Resentment is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die”. It’s so true! Keeping resentment inside of ourselves just eats away at us little by little. And it does absolutely nothing about the person we are resentful of! I’ve carried a few large loads of resentment around in my life. One of those times I had a visual image of myself literally carrying around a gigantic Santa sack chock full of seething resentment. And I realized it was me that was perpetuating my own huge burden I’d been carrying for years. And the amount of time I wasted thinking about that resentment over and over was pretty pathetic. So I dropped that sack of resentment. Don’t stay resentful.
It’s way too easy to waste time. We’ve listed but a few important ways of how to waste your time. And there’s many others out there, these were the ones I felt were high on the list.
We all have the same 24 hours in every day. The flip of the coin is we don’t know how many of those 24 hour periods we get. Try not to waste them on things that aren’t too important.
In good health,