10 Time Wasters and How to Avoid Them
We all fall victim, but we can still quit them
Do you ever feel like your days fly by? You find yourself saying things like:
What did I do all day?
Where did the time go?
I feel like I didn’t get anything accomplished.
I feel like I was busy all day, but I have nothing to show for it.
If you have these feelings then you might be falling into some time wasting habits. These habits will keep us busy, but yet make us feel unproductive. They eat up our time and keep us from accomplishing our goals.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like my time is disappearing and I’m not sure where it’s going. I’ve felt unproductive yet busy, like I’m constantly spinning in circles. After taking a closer look at where my time has been spent, I found that there are several time wasters that are soaking up my valuable minutes.
I’ve gathered together 10 time wasters and how to overcome them. These may not apply to everyone, but I’m guessing you will find at least one that you struggle with as well.
1. Social Media
Have you ever sat down with the plan to spend 5-10 minutes searching Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest and suddenly 30-45 minutes later you realize you have just wasted a ton of time? Yeah, me too! Social media has exploded in the past few years. It’s really the exception rather than the rule if you are NOT active on some type of social media platform.
Since most of us are involved in some way on social media, we can easily spend way more time than we plan to engaging in conversations, commenting on posts/photos, or pinning endless amounts of DIY projects we will probably never even try. If this is something that brings you joy and you have the time to dedicate to it, then by all means please continue! However, I think for many of us, our time can be used in much better ways.
If you want to decrease your time spent on social media, begin by taking all social media apps off your phone. Limit yourself to a small number of social media platforms you want to be active on. Give yourself a time limit each day to spend on social media. Set your timer on your phone when you get on and when the timer goes off, be disciplined and get off.
Have you ever said, “I’m putting off doing ____”? Procrastination can be a very big time waster. Spending time putting off the things that need to be done is a great way to get nothing accomplished.
If you struggle with procrastination, implement the “Do It Now” principle. I did this with my home management and it has kept my home much tidier. Also, do the thing that you are dreading most, first! If you get that task done, you won’t be constantly trying to find other things to waste your time.
If your home is cluttered, you are going to spend a ton of extra time digging and searching for things that are buried under piles of stuff. Having a cluttered home will cost you a lot of time. The more you have, the more you have to care for. Spending time caring for stuff that you don’t need, is wasting precious moments.
This one is simple. Clear out the clutter. Get rid of stuff you don’t need, love, or use and organize what’s left. If you are struggling with clutter, I highly recommend reading the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It really is life changing!
4. Forgetting to Plan
Are you a planner or do you “fly by the seat of your pants?” Lack of planning can cost you valuable time. Here are some examples of how forgetting to plan can waste time:
If you don’t plan dinner, you will spend more time trying to figure out what to fix at the five o’clock rush.
If you don’t plan what to bring to potlucks, you will waste time running to the store last minute to pick up ingredients.
If you don’t plan to spend time doing things you enjoy, other things will always take precedence.
Begin by thinking ahead. Plans don’t have to be elaborate. Simple is best. You can begin by meal planning or creating a daily routine. By getting into the mindset of thinking a few days to a week ahead, you will start to save time and probably money as well!
5. Not “Completing the Cycle”
You may be wondering what I mean when I say “complete the cycle.” It’s just a short way of saying, completely finishing each task you begin. I talked more about this in my post on how to create a cleaning schedule. This can waste a ton of time each day if you consider what happens when you don’t complete tasks you start.
If you fix dinner, but don’t put clean up afterwards, you will spend a lot of time the next day scraping crusted food off your dishes.
If you don’t switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer or hang it up to dry in time, you will end up having to re-wash it.
If you don’t put away your coats, gloves, scarves, purse, or bags when you come home, you will have to spend time tidying up later.
If you make a meal plan, but don’t plan your grocery list, you will spend more time in the grocery store trying to figure out all the ingredients you need to make your meals.
I’ve found that I do better with completing each task by making more detailed to do lists. For example, rather than putting wash clothes on my to do list, I will put wash clothes, hang up clothes, fold clothes, and put clothes away. This way I see progress and can mark things off when I’ve accomplished a piece of the task. However, I can easily see that I still have things left in order to finish it completely.
6. Saying Yes Too Much
Do you find yourself always saying “Yes” when asked to help with things at your child’s school, your church, your mom’s group, or any other organization you’re involved in? Sometimes we say “yes” when we really need to say no. While it’s hard to say that helping is a time waster, this can very much be the case in some situations. If you are saying “yes” to one thing, that means you have to say “no” to something else. That something else might be more important in your life.
We must begin by communicating to others what we can and cannot do. Saying no is very refreshing. It doesn’t make you a bad mom, wife, homemaker, church member, or the like. It means your time is important to you and you only have so much of it.
7. Not Asking for Help
In the opposite manner of saying “yes” too much, sometimes we don’t ask for help enough. When we try to do everything by ourselves we become run down and irritated. We try to stretch ourselves too thin and, in turn, spend more time than necessary on things that could be done by someone else.
I know I’m guilty for not asking my husband for help with housework when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Since I’m a stay at home mom and my husband works full-time, I tend to try to bear the brunt of it. I end up wasting a lot of time trying to do everything myself, when I know good and well that the old saying stands true…”many hands make for light work.”
Sometimes all we need to do is speak up and we will get all the help we need. However, sometimes asking is not always easy, especially if you are someone who struggles with relinquishing control (ahem…like me) or if you have a very introverted personality. If you struggle with asking for help, try starting small. Ask someone to take over one task that is really bringing you down and adding undo stress on your life. Maybe it’s the laundry that is overwhelming you. Maybe you need help running your kid’s to extra curricular activities. Maybe you need help with preparing for the women’s Bible study at church. Whatever it is that is weighing you down the most, ask for help.
8. The Unnecessary Tasks
Sometimes we spend time on tasks that don’t need to be done.
An example of something that I wasted a lot of time on was creating a home management binder. They are all the rage all over Pinterest and I know they work great for some people. However, I found that I just don’t need all that information in a binder. I spent hours creating this beautiful binder that was supposed to revolutionize my home management. I had dreams of this binder serving as the stepping stone towards a perfect June Cleaver home. However, you have to actually USE the binder for it to work. And, well, I didn’t really use the binder. You see, I used one or two of the sections. But most of them were useless to me. It was time wasted creating a plan for perfect home management, when I could actually have been implementing a much simpler plan on a single piece of paper.
When you are considering spending time on tasks or projects, think first if it’s something that will be worth the time invested. Is it something that will improve your life, or will it be put by the wayside like my home management binder? Make sure to evaluate whether it’s time well spent before devoting so much effort into it.
9. Lack of a Routine
Without at least a general flow to our days and weeks, our time can very easily slip away. We begin to float along without much direction. This is when the time wasters creep in!
If we have a routine to our day, we can set priorities and accomplish our goals. Maybe you want to keep a clean house so you always follow your morning and nighttime routines. Maybe you enjoy spending quality time with your kids, so you always do something fun with them in the afternoons. Maybe fixing yummy and nutritious meals for your family is important to you, so you always set time aside in the evening for cooking.
If you lack a routine, you need to start by prioritizing your goals, which I will talk about in the next point. Then you need to set a general time of day that you want to accomplish those goals. Don’t get too specific, just have a good sense of when those tasks will get accomplished.
Staying caught up on housework is important to me, so I try to get all of my morning chores done by 10:30am. Spending one-on-one time with my 4 year old is important to me, so I always try to do something with him in the afternoon. That might be playing toys, reading books, or baking some bread or desserts together.
Creating a routine will help you to fill your time doing that things that matter to you.
10. Not Prioritizing
I probably saved the best for last with this one. Sometimes we get so caught up in what everyone else is doing, that we think we have to do it all. Pinterest anyone?! We are surrounded by seemingly perfect homes, perfect families, perfect budgets, perfect bodies, and perfect lives that we forget that these people are only showing us a small part of their lives. We can’t live up to everyone else’s standards. We must only live up to our own. Prioritizing what is important to us is the best step in using the time we have more intentionally.
If it’s not important to you, then you shouldn’t be spending time doing it. Only allow the things in your life that bring you joy. If creating a beautiful home brings you joy, spend your time on it. If making fun and engaging crafts with your kids brings you joy, spend your time on it. If exercising regularly brings you joy, spend your time on it. If keeping a clean home brings you joy, spend your time on it. If going on dates with your spouse brings you joy, spend your time on it. However, we must learn to let the other stuff go. (I’m preaching to myself here!)
Make a list of the top 5 things that bring you joy, make you smile, and make your heart go pitter patter! These are the top 5 things you should be spending your time on. Then keep a log for the next few days journaling where you spend your time. This will show you where your time wasters are at and where you can begin to pull time from for the things that really matter to you. Dedicate the majority of your time with these top 5 things, then fill in the necessary items with the rest of your free time.
Time wasters tend to find their way into all of our lives at some point in time or another. Some are harder to avoid than others, but they all can make us feel unproductive, unmotivated, and unsuccessful. By striving to eliminate them from our day, we can focus on what really matters.