Time is money, and most of us are guilty of wasting both.
Here are some of the biggest culprits of ways we waste time with tips for how to avoid them!
The Biggest Time Wasters
If you want to kill time, there are tons of ways to do it. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves procrastinating for no good reason when we should be focused on getting our to-do lists accomplished.
You can spend hours just browsing through the front page, reading random stories from random people, and laughing at adorable animal gifs. Sometimes, I’ll open my browser around six or so, and suddenly, it will be seven or eight, even nine o’clock at night! Where did the time go?
The time went down the Reddit rabbit hole.
Other Social Media
Many of us waste time on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tiktok. Mindlessly scrolling through post after post of friends, family, and even strangers is a welcome escape from whatever we are supposed to be focused on.
The average American spends nearly four hours a day watching television. That’s a lot. Now I get it; sometimes we need to come home and just veg. I spent three hours watching Buffy last night. And when a brand-new show comes out that we can’t get enough of, sometimes we just have to binge the whole thing right there.
Four hours a day every day is a lot. That’s 28 hours a week – more than a full day! That’s three and a half full workdays per week dedicated to television. I think that makes television one of the biggest time sucks for most people.
Puzzle games like candy crush are some of the biggest time-wasters out there. You can’t beat them. They keep on going and keep offering deals to suck you back in.
Retail shopping is such a huge waste of time. If you don’t need anything, why are you at the mall looking at clothes?
I’m guilty of this as well, though clothing isn’t my poison. I can spend hours at an office supply store or a bookstore. But why? I don’t need anything, and I usually just end up wasting money in addition to wasting time.
People You Don’t Want to Deal With
One of the biggest time wasters of all is people that you don’t actually want to be dealing with. These can be family members, friends of friends, or even that pesky busy-body coworker.
Sometimes, we have no choice but to deal with these people. We have to be respectful and cordial, right? But,we don’t have to let them waste more of our time than necessary. Don’t let yourself get roped into hanging out with someone you don’t really like (unless it’s an in-law or someone important to your partner – have some common sense here).
Things You Do Out Obligation
Another huge waste of time is doing things we don’t really want to do. This can be with people we don’t like (a double whammy of wasted time!) or things we aren’t interested in with people we do like.
My mom had a coworker back in California who would always ask her to help with stuff after hours. My mom, being the saint that she is, always said yes. But this woman would never return the favor,and constantly complained about the way my mom helped her. I advised my mom to start saying no. This wasn’t a friend,; thiswas someone who was just using my mom’s kindness. Learn to say no to users.
I’m not saying don’t do favors for people. No one wants to help their friends move, but we do it because it’s the right thing to do, and we know they’d have our back if we needed it. It’s important to build and maintain those relationships.
Are you stuck in pointless meetings?
If you’re getting paid for it, it’s not a total waste. But, if you have important deadlines to meet and need to focus on the task at hand, talk to your boss. They may allow you to skip the meeting to meet your other obligations.
Imagine that you just sat down to your work computer to focus on your report. Your energy levels are high, you are focused, and you are ready to knock this task out.
Then Mr. Gossip Face peeps into your office. A most unwelcome interruption. He wants to talk about the latest workspace gossip, the rumor mill, and what Bill and Susy might have said about him the other day. This colleague wants to suck your time away.
It’s okay to be polite yet firm in setting boundaries with coworkers and ensuring they know that you need to focus on your work.
Busy-body coworkers aren’t the only interruptions you will face at work. There are phone calls, emails, meeting notifications, and all sorts of things that can come up during the workday.
Busy work is a huge waste of time at the office. It increases our workload and prevents us from focusing on our important tasks.
One of the best ways to avoid busy work is through delegation. If you have junior team members or are a supervisor, find out if you can delegate some of the busy work. This can be especially useful as a developmental tool for junior team members – what seems like busy work to you might be a new project for them that they haven’t had experience with yet.
If you can’t delegate, try time blocking. This is a time management tool that helps you focus on a certain task for a set amount of time. Set aside two hours for busy work, and try not to get distracted. Focus on completing it so that the rest of your time is available for important things.
Stop Wasting Time and Start Getting Stuff Done!
We all waste time, and sometimes it’s okay. Remember that time well spent is never wasted!
But, sometimes wasted time is just that. It’s time to identify the places where we waste time, and make changes to our routines to avoid them. You can get more done and live a fuller life when you stop wasting time on things that aren’t important to you!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.