What is a “waste of time”?
Exactly which activities could be defined as a “waste of time” is kind of subjective, but for me, it’s all the things that don’t add any real value to your life – or anybody else’s.
And the sad fact is, that the majority of us spend a big chunk of our time each day doing things that really don’t bring any value to life.
Some of them are difficult to avoid and maybe they are activities that are foisted on us by someone else. But there will be a lot of things we do each day that are wasting our precious time and it’s really our own fault.
The good news is, if something is your fault, it generally implies that you have the power to make things different.
There is an almost limitless amount of ways in which we can waste our time, but I’ve put together 50 of the ways that most of us probably do far more often than we’d care to admit. And I’ve split them up into five sections of ten, involving:
- How we interact with others
- How we interact with ourselves
- Organization and planning
So, let’s take a look, shall we?
50 Things (Most Of Us Do) That Are A Waste Of Time
Involving interaction with others
1. Holding grudges
This is a waste of mental energy and is a sure way to build barriers that make getting things done more difficult than they need to be.
2. Complaining and whining
Instead, try negotiating and asking.
3. Micro-managing others
If you have given others tasks to complete, make them accountable and let them get on with it. Don’t waste your time looking over shoulders when you could be spending your time more productively on your own (high-value) tasks.
4. Fighting with others
Be a lover, not a fighter. Agree to disagree, but don’t waste time and energy on fighting to feed your own ego.
5. Being a people pleaser
You can’t please all the people all of the time, so don’t try.
Engaging in gossip is a toxic habit that brings nothing positive to anyone’s life. Don’t do it. That’s all.
7. Not saying ‘no’
Taking on too much is a sure way to get side-tracked by low-value activities and maybe even tasks you’re not really responsible for. Defend your own time and say ‘no’ more often.
Read: How To Say ‘No’ To Protect Your Time >>>
8. Mixing with negative people
I can’t think of a worse way to invest my time. Negativity is contagious, so avoid like the plague.
9. Attending unnecessary meetings
The meetings culture is ingrained, but having meetings is not always the most effective way to use our time. Get in the habit of declining unnecessary meetings if you know your time needs to be focused elsewhere.
10. Responding to all emails
If you think you need to respond to every email you get, you really need to read this.
Involving interaction with yourself
Being too hard on yourself and over-thinking is a waste of time as it rarely achieving anything other than anxiety.
12. Not being intentional
If you’re doing things without a purpose in mind, you’re wasting your time.
13. Comparing yourself with others
This will only make you unhappy and it’s a complete waste of time. I’m going to throw in one of my all-time favourite quotes here, as these are definitely words to live by:
“Compare yourself to the person you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”Jordan Peterson
14. Being pedantic
Noticing mistakes, being overly pedantic and constantly striving for perfection can be a waste of time in a world where generally good is good enough.
15. Worrying about things you cannot control
Fretting about the future and ruminating on the past will destroy your ability to focus on the present. And stop worrying about what others think about you.
Putting things off until tomorrow is a bad habit and will suck your time. Action now always beats inaction, especially when it involves big, important tasks.
Related post: How To Stop Procrastinating >>>
Make decisions or someone else will make them for you.
18. Making empty promises
Give up talking about things you’re not going to do. If you’re going to spend time talking about it, follow up with some action.
19. Ignoring fatigue
Not taking a break when you need one is counter-productive. Don’t waste time trying to battle through and produce sub-standard work because you’re tired. Take a break and recharge.
Related post: The Power Of Microbreaks >>>
20. Being stuck in a job you hate
Life’s too short. Do something about it and work towards finding a job you enjoy.
21. Scrolling through social media feeds
Do I even need to add a comment here?
22. Watching TV
Nothing was ever accomplished by sitting on the couch and watching TV – except maybe a potbelly and heart disease, but if that’s your goal – go for it.
23. Reading the news
Watching the news these days is a lot like hanging out with negative people. Go on a low-information diet and see how little value the news brings to your life.
24. Reading Email
Having your inbox open all day and dealing with emails as and when they come in is a huge waste of time. For the most productive way to handle your Inbox, read this post.
25. Surfing the web aimlessly
You get sucked in and before you know it, the day’s gone.
Related: How To Deal With Internet Distractions >>>
26. Reading tabloids/celebrity gossip sites
Do you really care about the throw cushions J-Lo has in her Malibu home? Is Kylie Jenner’s latest nipple slip really worthy of your time? Stop living vicariously through the lives of others and invest more time in yourself.
27. Constantly updating your Facebook status
Seriously, no one needs to know every time you fart so quit wasting your time thinking you need to broadcast it on social media.
28. Letting email notifications interrupt your day
So, who’s controlling your time? Be pro-active, not reactive. Read: Does Inbox Zero Work?
29. Chatting with co-workers
Of course, you can be social, but if you spend too much time chatting with your co-workers, there’s an opportunity cost and that is: your time.
30. Playing video games
Okay as a way to relax, but everything in moderation.
31. Doing other people’s work
Do your work first. Be in control of your own schedule.
32. Doing what you could be delegating
If someone else can do the job, delegate it and get back to your high-value tasks.
33. Not batching tasks
This lead to a fragmented way of working. Theme and batch whenever you can. You can incorporate this with time blocking.
34. Playing email/voicemail tennis
Avoid the back-and-forth. Communicate more effectively and deliberately in your emails.
35. Not setting boundaries
This is a sure way to lose control of your own time and waste it doing things for other people.
Read more: How To Set Boundaries At Work >>>
36. Prioritizing the wrong things
The bedrock of time management is prioritization. Learn how to do it or be forever wasting your time. Three different methods you can try to do this are: The Eisenhower Box, The ABCDE Method and The Carver Matrix.
37. Doing low-value tasks at peak-productivity times
This is what happens when you don’t prioritize.
38. Duplication of effort
Saying and writing the same things over and over is a waste of time. Use templates whenever you can.
39. Answering the phone
Remember, your phone is there for your convenience, not someone else’s. Don’t be afraid to turn it off when you’re supposed to be focusing on a task.
This seems like you’re making good use of time, but multi-tasking is actually counter-productive. Less is more.
Related post: Is Multi-tasking An Effective Way To Work? >>>
Involving organization and planning
41. Not putting things away
You’ll have to look for them later, which takes time. Waste of.
42. Not capturing ideas
Now, where did you write down that superb idea you had earlier? I know, let’s waste the next thirty minutes looking for it. Get a system in place for capturing your ideas.
43. Looking for things you misplaced
Make sure you have a place for your stuff. Keys, etc.
44. Not filing your paperwork
Piling instead of filing is poor organisation and a sure route to Clutterville, which creates stress and wastes your time. Organize your stuff so you can find it.
45. Not having and using a To-Do list
Or maybe you have a To-Do list, but you didn’t look at your list. The To-Do list is a crucial element in managing your time well.
Read: How To Write A To-Do List – Properly! >>>
46. Solving the same problems
More duplication of effort. Make sure you document solutions to problems so that you don’t have to re-learn processes later.
47. Not planning your meals in advance
Big time waster. If you can batch cook your meals in advance – bonus!
48. Commuting during rush hour
Can’t always be helped, but if you’re office-based and can negotiate working hours, you could avoid a lot of traffic.
49. Waiting for something to happen
Visualize, pray, work on manifestation if you want. But at the end of the day, action is required to make things happen.
50. Sleeping too much
Again, life’s too short. And consider this: waking up just 30 minutes earlier each day provides you with an extra week of time each year to do stuff.
Related: Tips For A Great Morning Routine >>>
Time Hack Hero Takeaway
Ok, so how many on that list of 50 are familiar to you? Comment below!
We are all guilty of spending our time in ways that could arguably be spent more productively. Maybe this is part of being human and part of life.
I don’t know. I’m just a guy trying to make some sense of it all.
As I said at the start of this post, the definition of “waste of time” is somewhat subjective and will be personal to you. It all depends on what you are trying to get out of life and how much you want it. You may enjoy scrolling through social media or playing video games and find that these activities are a way to relax and unwind.
But if you have ambitions to say, build a business, get fit, learn the piano, [insert your own goals here] and you’re struggling to find the time necessary to work at those goals, then an obvious strategy is to look at where you can find that time and whether or not you’re willing to use the hour(s) you’re spending on social media for other goal-orientated activities.
Whether you’re “guilty” of just one or all fifty of the time-wasters listed, or whether you’re somewhere in between, it’s all good. Because that means there’s time that can be freed up somewhere during your day.
There is always time to do the things you want to do, but it is a question of prioritizing your activities. If you can prioritize what’s important, there’s always enough time.
As a parting thought, I’ll leave you with words from the Roman Stoic philosopher and statesman, Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger:
“Life is long if you know how to use it.”Seneca
[Featured image credit: wallpaperflare.com]
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