One of our most valuable resources is time. In fact, in some ways, time is really the only limited resource. Every person is given the exact same time each day to accomplish whatever it is that they desire. On average, most people are given approximately the same number of years of life to achieve all that they want too.
If that’s true, why do some people seem to get a fantastic amount accomplished, while others seem to lack time to do the same, even given the exact same time to get things done?
The truth is that many people sabotage themselves when it comes to being productive. They waste time without even thinking about it, in ways that aren’t noticed, and then wonder how they’ll ever be successful with the limitations given them – yet though every single person born has this same time limitation.
5 Common Time Suckers to Stop Now
First, let’s talk about the many typical time suckers that you probably want to work on stopping right now. You’ll likely find more as you work toward discovery in your own personal situation, but most people can agree that the following are common time suckers that you should stop doing now.
1. Not Setting Goals for Every Part of Your Life
The very first thing you should do is set up goals based on your morals and values for your entire life. Set life goals for your life psychologically, physically, and spiritually in each area of your life, including personal, relationships, and work. For example, if you want to be healthy, you’ll need to set healthy eating goals, healthy exercise goals, and so forth, according to the results you desire.
2. Not Planning and Scheduling What’s Important to You
Once you have identified what’s important to you, it’s essential to create a plan and make a schedule of the steps in chronological order of what you need to do to get to success and reach your goals in the time frame you’ve set up for yourself. For example, if you believe it’s important to eat dinner with the family 4 nights out of seven, what are you doing to ensure it happens? Likewise, if you want to publish an 80,000-word novel by December, what do you need to do to get there?
3. Lack of Organization and Systemization
One reason people don’t reach their goals promptly has to do with not organizing based on the real amount of time you have to do the tasks. If you really want dinner on the table at 7 pm each night, plan the meal carefully, taking the actual time it takes for things into consideration.
Plus, not creating systems with automation in place is a big time sucker. For example, there is no reason to spend hours paying bills each month when you can automate the process via your bank. You can even organize and systemize family dinner by assigning each person a task to do that ends up with dinner being on the table by 7 PM in a realistic manner.
4. Not Delegating and Always Doing Everything Yourself
Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a salary earner, or an entrepreneur, you can’t do everything yourself. It’s imperative to your future that you learn to delegate and stop trying to do everything yourself. There are people in your life that can help you, and if you don’t have those people yet, you can find them.
Your spouse, your children, your friends, and even people you hire can help lighten the load for you just as you do for them. However, if you’re a people-person, who is a pleaser, you can recognize this by asking yourself, “Who can help me do this task?” If you cannot come up with an answer, you have work to do building relationships with people who can help.
5. Not Setting Boundaries and Saying Yes Without Thought
This is usually related to being a people pleaser, too. Some people call these people “yes” people. You see them in every single PTA, Church Group, and volunteer opportunity. There is usually one in every well run office. This person may be seen as the “go-for,” who gets things done for others. These people are often stressed, overwhelmed, and have a low self esteem.
Many people-pleasers say yes to every single ask of them without even thinking. This is a huge time sucker because there is no reason why you need to say yes to everything. First, weigh the things people ask you to determine if it’s worth being involved or not. An excellent way to decide is to have criteria for saying yes.
For example, ensure that doing this will get you closer toward your goals in each life area. Check your calendar to be sure that you really do have the time available before saying yes. Say yes with enthusiasm or no without guilt.
Now you need to look at your own life and start identifying and eliminating time wasters. Only you can truly determine what a time sucker is and what is not. For some people spending five minutes on social media is a time suck, but it might be how you schedule your downtime. It’s your time, so if you can reach the goals you set for yourself, you can choose what tasks you want to do and what responsibilities you don’t want to do.
3 Steps to Identifying Time Wasters in Your Life
The first thing to do to eliminate time wasters in your life is to recognize them for what they are and how they affect your life. Once you identify what is wasting your time, either delegate the task or item, or eliminate it altogether. That sounds easy but some things may be more difficult to identify than others.
1. Identify Your timewasters
For most people, time wasters are apparent. They consist of activities like watching TV, surfing social media, playing games, and doing things that get in the way of productivity haphazardly. For others, they may need to dig to figure out where they’re leaking time. For example, is your mother calling you every day and talking to you an hour or more?
Even things that seem significant on the surface, like talking to mom, can end up becoming a time sucker if you are allowing it to get in the way of your overall schedule. Write down any item that you think might be a timewaster.
2. What tasks do you procrastinate on?
Now let’s look at some tasks that you tend to procrastinate on. Make a list of them without any type of judgment. Right now, don’t deem them as timewasters or important tasks. If you tend to put it off, or often don’t do it until the last possible minute, or even at all (even when it’s needed), write it down.
The truth is, most of the items you procrastinate about are going to be timewasters, but they might not be something you think of immediately as a timewaster. Of course, you must pay your bills, but if you put it off, pay them late, do it last minute, and aren’t scheduling and organizing, you’re wasting time someplace.
3. What bottlenecks you can identify?
Look at your day, or a week of your life, if it helps, and write down any times of the day that seem overwhelming in terms of the time you have available to do what needs to be done. For example, are you having trouble feeding everyone in a healthy way on practice nights? Are you missing deadlines to submit work to clients if you’re a contractor? Do you often feel rushed and overwhelmed? Write down each time that happens during the week that you monitor.
Each situation needs to be analyzed so that you can figure out how it can be done better. For example, on practice nights, it would be helpful to eat leftovers for dinner, such as leftover turkey wraps that can easily be thrown together in 15 minutes and eaten with the hands.
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What Is Getting Done?
Believe it or not, sometimes, the things that are getting done don’t even need to be done and are getting in the way of you getting important things done. Sometimes it’s just a sign of the things you’re doing correctly because you’ve designed the process in a way that works for you.
What’s not getting done?
Make a list of things and tasks that are not getting done at all by you or anyone due to being overlooked. Put these in order of importance. If you really want them to get done, put them at the top of the list. If they really don’t matter in the scheme of things, put them at the bottom, and then eliminate them.
Are you losing track of time? Why?
During some portions of your day, you may find that you’re losing track of time when you’re doing those things. For example, some people lose track of time on the net. They’re looking for a 30-minute recipe to cook their favorite meal, but they get sucked into the internet, and it takes an hour or two to find the recipe.
Other things might be less noticeable. However, if you think something takes 30 minutes to do and it really ends up taking an hour or more to do, you’re losing track of time for some reason, or it really takes longer, and you’ve scheduled incorrectly.
Why are you doing this task?
What is the point of doing this task? What is the reason you’re doing it? What would happen if you just did not do it? Go back to your list of tasks so that you can remind yourself what you’re thinking of. How does this task relate to your goal? Does it help you succeed, or does it block your success?
Can someone else do this task?
Assess every task to decide whether you need to do it, yourself, or you should let someone else do it. For example, at home, it doesn’t really matter which capable person folds the towels, as long as the task gets done. Any mission that doesn’t specifically need you to do it should be delegated. Underline any task that can be transferred even if you don’t think you know who to ask or you don’t think you cannot afford it. Just note the ones that can be delegated.
Does this task align with your goals?
One thing to help you determine whether a task needs to be done is to ask yourself how that task aligns with your goals? For example, if one of your responsibilities is to post five posts a day on social media, why are you doing it yourself, and is the data showing that it’s moving you closer to your goals.
If you’re helping a school, a church, a spouse, a child, or someone with something if you feel any type of resentment at all about it, it’s important to ask that important question about your goals and how the task helps or does not help.
What deliverable will result from doing this task?
When you do this task, what is the result of doing it? For example, if you have a goal to lose weight and one of your tasks is to walk for 45 minutes a day, you can track that this is really working and delivering the results you desire. It might be harder on other types of things you do because sometimes the benefit is in the eye of the beholder.
Does doing this task move you closer to your goals? How?
All of us can be guilty of doing busy work in life. Most busy work can be eliminated by asking how the task is moving you nearer your goals. If it’s not, and you can do it another way, you should examine that other way to figure out if it’ll work for you. A task that many can identify with is going to meetings. So many meetings are useless and can be eliminated.
Can you identify an outside source that’s distracting you?
Some timewasters almost seem as if they’re totally uncontrollable because they come from outside sources. They can be family, friends, colleagues, and bosses, and others, causing the issue for you. Identify these issues for yourself. Once you realize what’s happening, start setting boundaries, or find a way to work around the person or thing that’s distracting you.
For example, most people cannot multitask at all, they just think they can. If you have set aside time to journal each night so that you can become more thankful, you may be wasting time by keeping the television on while doing it. However, knitting a birthday sweater while you watch TV might work out great. The only way to know whether you’re more productive without multitasking or not is to try doing things without multitasking and time yourself.
16 Ways to Increase the Time in Your Day
Now that you’ve identified the time-suckers in your life, you can now work on finding more time in your day. Once you let go of time wasters and focus on being productive without over scheduling, you’re going to meet your life goals faster than you think.
1. Check Your Attitude
If you don’t believe you have control over your own time and that you can eliminate time wasters, gain more time, and get more done, quite simply – you won’t. When it comes to time, it can be challenging to develop an abundance mindset. Not only can you eliminate time wasters, but with smart delegation, you can buy more time.
2. Go to Bed on Time
It might seem counterproductive when you want more time but going to bed on time and sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night, depending on your needs, is going to give you more energy. You’ll be more productive after a good night’s sleep. When your mind is clear and you’re not sleepy, you can do more better and faster.
3. Be Honest About How You’re Spending Your Time
You’ll need to get real with yourself. It’s so easy to say that you don’t have time for things but if you are spending time on the net, watching TV, reading, coloring, gaming, and doing things that do not lead you toward meeting your responsibilities and realizing your life’s goals you can spend your time better.
4. Organize Tasks by Priorities
The 34th president of the United States came up with a method to figure out what’s important to do and what can wait. It’s called the Time Management Matrix and over time, has become the Time Quadrant and made more popular by Stephen R. Covey, who wrote the book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Essentially, you need to organize tasks in one of four quadrants so you can determine how you should schedule it.
- Quadrant 1: Important and Urgent – This includes things like a crisis, projects with deadlines, and pressing problems.
- Quadrant 2: Important and Non-Urgent – This includes tasks like building good relationships, new opportunities, and recreation.
- Quadrant 3: Not Important and Urgent – These include issues like emails, phone calls, meetings, interruptions, and especially things happening now when you’re trying to do something else.
- Quadrant 4: Not Important and Non-Urgent – These types of tasks are often called busy work and can include calls, emails, fun games, water cooler chats, and are usually time wasters.
5. Get Up at The Same Time Each Day
When you go to bed and get up at the same time each day, avoiding over or under sleeping, you will create a situation where your mind and body get used to functioning at the time you need it to. Also, it gives you the same amount of time each day to be super productive.
Take the time to take a deep breath. In through your nose on a count of four, slowly – now hold it in, count to four, and then slowly let the air out of your mouth on a count of four. This is a great way to center yourself before each task.
7. Delegate More
Once you identify tasks that can be delegated to others, find a way to get that done. In some cases, you can delegate tasks to family members. This may require a family meeting and family executive decisions, but there is nothing wrong with getting help from your family, especially for family things. Everyone in the family needs to take part in whatever it takes to run a household in accordance with their age.
For some things, you’ll want to hire someone. Spending money is often a roadblock when it comes to delegating. However, you may even save money. For example, ordering groceries for delivery might have an additional charge but the fact that it eliminates a couple of hours work, plus the possibility of picking up junk that interferes with your goal of eating healthy it’s a win-win. You’ll end up saving.
8. Schedule Everything Realistically
Once you have a clear list of things you need to do, with deadlines, as you work on your schedule, learn to schedule everything realistically. For example, batch tasks, use your time wisely and combine efforts by ensuring that you don’t spend too much time in the car. For example, drop off your dry cleaning when you’re going to pass it already anyway instead of making a special trip. Don’t even bother to schedule time wasters and always add high-value tasks over low-value tasks. High-value tasks move you closer to your goals. Low-value tasks do nothing to advance your goals and can even take you backward.
9. Plan Your Day the Night Before
Each night at a specified time, set aside about 15 minutes to plan the following day the night before. Look at your master schedule so that you can see what you need to do at a glance, and then organize it in order of importance. Do the most important tasks first.
10. Cross Things off Your Schedule
As you accomplish your tasks on any given day, make sure you take the time to mark off the tasks. This is going to provide you with another look at your schedule and calendar, so you don’t forget anything, plus it feels good to check something off the list. The more you focus on feelings of accomplishment, the more motivated you’ll be to keep going.
11. Use Gap Time
No matter what you do, you’re going to find that you have some gap times in your day. You’ll be waiting in lines, waiting for your doctor, commuting, waiting to pick up your kids, waiting while they’re at practice, and so forth. Sometimes you know when you’re likely going to have to wait on something, but sometimes it’s going to be a surprise.
Keep something with you that enables you to be productive during gap times. If you knit, bring your knitting, if you read, bring your reading. If you are a writer, you can bring your laptop. It’s up to you what you do during gap times, it’s a good time to be productive, and it’s a good time to read for pleasure. It depends on your goals what you choose to do during your gap times.
12. Let Go of Guilt
One problem people often experience when they try to get rid of time-suckers is guilt. No one wants to try to explain to their mother why they cannot talk for an hour every single day at 3 pm. However, know that guilt is a wasted emotion. Make a choice to do things or not do things and just let go of the blame.
13. Arrive Early
One other way to get more time in your day is by trying to arrive at every appointment you have 15 minutes early. That might add a gap time to waiting, but you have a plan for that. More than likely, it’s going to ensure that you are on time and not rushed.
14. Avoid Procrastination
If you find that you are procrastinating on doing anything, you have to dig deep into the why of it. Organize better, set deadlines, cut out distractions, and get the tasks done as quickly as possible. If you can’t delegate it or outsource it, prioritize and get it done as quickly as possible. Reward yourself for sticking to your schedule.
15. Be Mindful
TV, internet, games, email, social media, and so forth can be substantial time-suckers, but that doesn’t mean you should never participate in those fun things. Of course, you should. However, when you are doing it, do it with purpose. Know how long you’re going to spend and make it a fun event and not something you do out of habit. If you must, set a timer so that you stop at the time you need to.
16. Be Done When You’re Done
One thing about being productive and managing your time better is that it is crucial to accept that perfectionism, micromanaging, and procrastination is all roadblocks that lead to wasting time. It’s okay if the towels aren’t folded the way you want them folded if they are done.
It’s okay that the report was formatted slightly differently from how you’d have done it if it’s what the client wants. It’s okay that dinner was delivered tonight instead of made from scratch. It’s okay to say you’re done when tweaking something doesn’t really change the substance anymore. Let go and accept being done, and you’ll discover so much more time in your day.
For most people, the first step toward eliminating time sucks is to identify and acknowledge them and then work toward replacing them with planning, goal setting, and decisive action. The ball is in your court.