Ever wonder why you’re not more productive? Wishing you had better time management skills so you could get more done throughout the day?
Well, you can. But first you’ll need to be honest with yourself about something:
Time wasters are those little things you do that seemingly make the hours fly by without you even realizing it. They come in all different shapes and forms, but they all have the same effect:
You end up feeling as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done.
Ready to identify those pesky, time-stealing activities?
Here are seven time wasters that are stealing hours from you every week.
1. Social Media
Unless you’re a social media marketer or influencer, you don’t need to spend your entire day scrolling through Instagram and Twitter. You must resist the urge to check your social media pages every chance you get.
Set aside 30-60 minutes a day to post status updates and catch up on what your friends are doing online. Do this at the end of the day, after you’ve checked everything else off your to-do list.
While it’s tempting to want to like and respond to everything your friends share, there’s no need for that. An hour a day is more than enough time to stay current on social media.
Don’t think you can break free of your social media addiction? The more time wasters you can eliminate from this list, the more time you might be able to devote to social media at night.
2. Checking Email
How many times a day do you check your email? The more often the do it, the more time you’re wasting.
Email is a huge time waster. Cutting back on checking it is a great way to boost productivity.
Don’t stop what you’re doing every time a new message pops up in your inbox. Instead, limit yourself to checking it three or four times each day.
You might check it once in the morning, once around lunch, and once in the mid-afternoon. That way, you can follow up on important work emails at the start and end of each day.
3. TV and YouTube
There’s nothing wrong with watching an episode or two of your favorite show. And it’s perfectly fine to watch a funny three-minute kitten clip on YouTube. But you have to know when enough is enough — you can’t go down the rabbit hole and watch one video after another after another.
Save binge-watching for snow days, sick days, and the occasional lazy Sunday. During the week, try to spend your time in other ways.
Instead of watching hours upon hours of TV and video clips, set aside a block of time each day to watch the things you love. When that hour or two is up, turn off the TV or put down your smartphone and move on to more important tasks.
One of the biggest time wasters (and mood killers) at work is complaining. We’re all guilty of it, yet complaining rarely makes a situation better. In fact, it can make it seem worse.
Stop complaining about the things that you don’t want to do and just do them! You’re wasting valuable time griping about stuff when you could be getting things done!
Procrastination goes hand-in-hand with complaining in the sense that they both get you nowhere.
If you break your procrastination habit, you’ll have a lot more time to do what’s important each day.
One of the most common time wasters is making lengthy to-do lists. Sitting down to list out all of you things you have to do is usually just a way to put off doing them. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you’re being productive when you’re actually just procrastinating.
It’s better to make short to-do lists with simpler tasks that are easier to achieve. Be realistic in your expectations of yourself. If you break your to-do list down into small, concise tasks, you’ll find that they’re easier to do.
6. Saying Yes to Everything
Maybe you’re a natural-born people-pleaser. Maybe you’re a social butterfly. Either way, saying yes to everything that comes your way can be a huge waste of time.
It’s better to pick and choose the things that are most important and most meaningful to you.
Keep a calendar that outlines everything you have to do each day. This should include all work-related tasks, but it should account for some free time too.
If your workday is packed, don’t let your coworkers drag you into a project that’s not even yours. If your free time is limited, say no to that friend who wants to have dinner and drinks.
And speaking of drinks …
Drinking alcohol is one of the biggest time wasters of all. Even a few drinks at night can leave you feeling ragged in the morning and make it harder to get your day started. You can waste a lot of time during the week recovering from hangovers, so try to limit your alcohol consumption to weekends and vacations.
Sometimes, the key to being more productive is learning how to say no.
7. Unnecessary Meetings
Unless you’re the boss who makes the rules at work, this can be a tough one to avoid. But constant meetings can be a huge waste of time.
If your team likes to have daily meetings for every little thing, you probably have to attend. But you should do what you can to try to make those meetings more productive.
Go in prepared. Know what you plan to talk about. Have a list of suggestions and ideas ready and you might be able to shave a few minutes off the meeting.
And don’t get involved in those post-meeting discussions that tend to happen afterward. Unless there’s an urgent issue being discussed, head back to your cubicle and get back to work ASAP.
Just imagine how much you could accomplish in a day if you could just stop wasting time. It may seem hard to do at first, but if you address your time wasters one at a time, it gets a lot easier.
To use your days more productively, you need to:
- Cut back on social media
- Reduce the amount of time you spend checking emails
- Cut back on your TV and YouTube time
- Stop complaining
- Stop procrastinating
- Don’t say yes to every invitation or request that comes your way
- Make the most of every business meeting
If you can eliminate just one or two of these time wasters, you’ll be well on your way to being more productive and finding that elusive work-life balance.
About the Author
Angus Flynn has 5 years of property management experience working primarily in high-end apartment community living. Her ability to consistently deliver white-glove service to her residents and prospects has propelled her to a successful career that now finds her leading the team at 2300 Wilshire.