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If you find yourself at the end of the day or the end of the week wondering where the time went and how you got so little accomplished, chances are it’s because of all the ways you waste time that you’re not aware of.
You lost your focus. We’re all guilty of it; getting distracted with social media, text messages, and random tasks that will “just take a quick minute.” Before we know it, the day is gone and we haven’t taken care of our top priorities.
Whether you work from home or in an office, time wasters are all around you. With so many distractions happening around you all the time, staying focused is a task in itself. And when a day is lost getting nothing done, we always say “tomorrow I will definitely be more focused.” And at that moment, we mean it. Unfortunately, it takes a little more than just saying it to get it done.
When I left my corporate job and started working for myself, this was a huge problem for me. So much so that I started reading books about how best to set up my work schedule.
It reminds me of when I got married and was now responsible for managing the house, working full time, taking care of my daughter and all the other responsibilities I was trying to juggle. I knew there were ways I was wasting time every day because I wasn’t getting done what I wanted to accomplish.
If only I knew then what I know now!
Things would have been so much easier to tackle because I would have realized how I was wasting time each day. Sound familiar to you too? Are you feeling like you might be in the same boat?
Here are the top 7 most common time wasters that most people face on a daily basis.
See if you can relate and if there are any others you’d add to the list.
8 WAYS YOU WASTE TIME EVERY DAY AND HOW TO FIX IT
Social Media is a total TIME SUCK. Especially if you have the apps on your cell phone. There’s a little notification pending, and you just have to check it “really quick.” Except, after checking it, you think it will only take a few minutes to scroll through your newsfeed or make a quick comment on a post you like. Then, as long as you’ve already spent a few minutes on Facebook and the Instagram app is just below it, you may as well see what’s new there too. Before you know it, a half an hour has slipped by, and you’ve accomplished nothing important. Do this 3 or 4 times a day (or more), and you’ll end up wasting hours of valuable time.
Checking your email every time you get a notification can be a big-time drainer. You have to break your focus to check your one new email, which turns out to be spam, then delete it and try to regain your focus again. Even though it only took a minute to delete that email, you can end up losing 5-10 minutes trying to get your focus back.
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ERRANDS AND CHORES
Especially if you work from home, running a quick errand or throwing in a load of laundry can throw off your entire day. That one load of laundry turns into emptying the dishwasher, running the vacuum, and a quick run to the store for milk.
If your phone is dinging all day with notifications of text messages that really aren’t that important, it can be very distracting. You think it will only take a moment to respond, but then the other person responds back, and you feel the need to send another response. On and on it goes.
Have you ever gotten lost in that black hole known as Amazon? Your search, for one thing, leads to other suggestions that capture your attention and after a few clicks you’ve added five items to your cart and another 10 to your wish list. Or you do a search for new yoga pants and visit 17 sites, looking through their entire selection, then decide you don’t like any of them. How long did that take? My guess is, longer than you anticipated.
Google is another black hole that can drain your time. One search leads to more suggestions or ideas for new searches. Before you know it, you’ve wasted an hour searching things that have absolutely no relevance to the project you’re working on.
ORGANIZING AND PREPARING
Most people feel they’re “busy” doing things but what they’re actually doing is being busy getting ready to do things. Making lists, organizing piles, sorting papers, creating a spreadsheet; you get the idea. And, you can probably relate.
If you’re trying to clean the house or do the dishes and want some background noise, don’t turn on the TV. You’ll get distracted by either a storyline or a commercial derailing your efforts and wasting time.
So how do you get a handle on these time wasters and get yourself back on track to be focused and productive? It takes a little willpower, and of course, focus, but here are four ways to get yourself back on track:
TIME WASTER SOLUTIONS
LIMIT YOUR PRIORITIES EACH DAY
Instead of filling your to-do list with 20 tasks then only managing to get 3 or 4 done that day, shorten your list. For each day, focus on just three priorities. You can keep a running list of other tasks to tackle IF you have time after your priorities have been taken care of. And, so that you don’t waste time organizing your list, spend a few minutes at the end of each day preparing the next days’ list so you’re ready to go when you walk in the office.
SET A TIMER
The Stay Focused app for Chrome is a great one for helping with this. It allows you to both “hide” websites while you’re working so that you can’t get into them and schedule how much time you can use them. You can “hide” Facebook while you work, then tell the app you only want to spend 15 minutes on it. After 15 minutes, it will block the site from you again. Work for 45-50 minutes straight then take a break for 10-15 minutes. During your break, you can spend that time doing those time wasters if you’d like, but keep it to just your break time then get back to work.
SCHEDULE A TIME FOR TIME WASTERS
Instead of getting distracted every 15 minutes of the day, set aside an entire hour, after your priorities are completed, to check email and scroll through your newsfeed. This way, you won’t feel deprived, and you’ll be able to stay focused on the task at hand knowing that you have a time scheduled for these other tasks.
TURN ON MUSIC
If you need background noise turn on music and stay away from the tv.
Distractions and time wasters are all around you, everywhere you turn. It takes willpower and determination to keep yourself from getting distracted. But if you have a plan of action, even a scheduled time for distractions, it will help you stay on track easier so you can be more productive.