If you want to know what things are a waste of time and find some examples of time wasters, you’ll love this article.
Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough time? You rush from one meeting to another, finish one task and have another to do. Don’t you have enough time for yourself and your loved ones? Or maybe you feel that time flows through your fingers and you just waste it?
Many of us feel the same way. Various polls and surveys show that over 60 percent of people say they don’t have enough time to do what they really want.
In addition, many people feel that they don’t have enough time to rest. They lack the time to relax. But is this situation really due to overload? Or maybe it’s just the result of insufficient planning and a lack of time management skills.
We all have 24 hours a day at our disposal, regardless of who we are, where we come from and what we do. Time is a priceless resource that cannot be recovered. It is worth managing it effectively and not losing it unnecessarily.
How to better manage time? Let’s take a look at the most common reasons for wasting time and what you can do about it.
15 Examples of Time Wasters and 15 Worthwhile Activities
Here are 15 things you waste your time doing and how to deal with them. Check out the list of frequent time wasters that you should consider:
1. Managing your mailbox
Around 281 billion e-mails are sent and received every day. On average, office workers receive at least 200 messages per day and spend about two and a half hours reading and responding to e-mails.
Like many of us, you probably waste time handling e-mails, sometimes not even realizing it. This waste can take many forms.
For example: distractions caused by e-mail notifications; reading almost all the messages that affect your inbox; conducting long discussions by email instead of using another communication channel; spending time editing and sending responses; responding to emails while you’re halfway through another task.
Control your mailbox
If you care about your time, you can control your mailbox. Define daytime periods when you check your mail, instead of reacting immediately to every incoming message notification.
Set a time limit for your response and try to keep it. Don’t overly lengthen the time it takes to write a reply and think about every word too long. E-mails should be a rather short form of communication, writing long stories in the form of e-mail should be forbidden
Unsubscribe from all subscriptions, newsletters that do not add value to your life and that absorb your attention. Before you send a message to someone, think about whether this is the best way to contact them.
There is a good chance that you will receive a reply to your email and you will have to spend time reading and reacting to it. Instead of exchanging emails, it may be better to call and in a short conversation discuss the subject and establish the details.
Alternatively, you can write down the most important points of the conversation later and send it by e-mail to have a record of what has been agreed.
In a good management of your email box there is a great potential for saving a lot of time and greater productivity.
2. Learn to say no
Let yourself say no without feeling guilty. When you say “yes” to something, remember that you say “no” to something else. There are situations when it is difficult for us to say no, e.g. when your boss asks you to do something or your best friend invites you to an event and expects you to attend.
Unfortunately, every “yes” you give is a minutes, an hours you spend on something. It’s time you spend doing something that can’t always be good for you.
Refusing and saying no can free up hours of your time. As long as you are kind and respectful, you will probably not feel any negative consequences from refusing.
This also applies to the work environment if you have really strong arguments about why you can’t take on the next task, even your boss should understand.
Say no firmly and decisively when you disagree with something, when there is no good reason to say yes. Refuse when something or someone distracts you from your goals and has a negative impact on you. Have your own opinion!
Despite appearances of being assertive and objecting, defending one’s own rights can even make others respect you. You may then be seen as someone who appreciates his own time and can clearly set priorities.
3. Make decisions faster
It is said that every day we make about 35,000 decisions, which makes 1458 decisions per hour, 24.3 decisions per minute. These are all kinds of decisions. What to wear? What to eat? Should I take a car or a tram? Which studies should I enrol in? What kind of product should I sell? Who to meet? etc.
When we make choices, we must not only analyze our motives, but also predict their effects. Most of these decisions are not so important. But among all these decisions, there are also the key ones that can change our lives.
Your fate is shaped in the moments when you make decisions. Every great achievement starts with a decision.
Be more decisive.
Perhaps you’re spending more time standing up for indecision than you realize. Maybe you have been having an internal debate about what you should do, whether to choose option A or B, whether to meet at one hour or another, whether to start the task now, whether to wait until tomorrow, and so on.
In any case, every minute spent thinking about your decision is potentially wasted. Especially if we assume that there is no new information to consider that could influence your decision.
Do you want more time? Be more decisive. Try to make a quicker decision and you will immediately regain the next few minutes of your life.
4. Set limits and stick to them
How much time do you spend unproductively in front of a computer? How often do you check social media channels during the day? Or maybe you’re engrossed in this new game that you recently installed on your phone? Or this new TV series that’s recently appeared on TV?
You may be wasting more time using your computer, smartphone or watching TV than you actually need to and justified by a real need. Without controlling your time, you can catch yourself sitting on your laptop for a while, or taking your phone in your hand, wasting hours. Suddenly you have no idea where your time has gone.
By specifying in advance the amount of time you can spend on a given activity, you will reduce the risk of wasting too many valuable minutes on unproductive activities. When it comes to television, it may be worth giving up watching it at all.
In the case of smartphones, you can set time limits for the use of individual applications. There are even special applications for iOS and Android available on the market, which make it easier to manage such limits. Just go to Google Play or App Store to find something for yourself.
A good option may also be to uninstall an excessive number of applications from your phone. This way you will get rid of unnecessary distractions and potential time savers.
You can also treat spending time on an activity as a mini reward for doing some valuable task you’ve been working on, for example, I learned the material on the colloquium, as a reward I can watch one episode of my favorite series, or spend 30 minutes using social media, etc.
5. Take a break
Sometimes we think that working continuously for a long time will be beneficial for us and will make us do more. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case.
Working too long without rest can make it harder for you to focus on your work, which means that a task that usually takes 30 minutes to complete when you’re rested can take 45 minutes or more.
Various studies suggest that the ideal ratio of work to break is 52 minutes of work followed by 17 minutes of break.
However, this is very much dependent on the type of work you do and, of course, your individual preferences.
Most importantly, however, you need to take more breaks during the day if you want to make the most of your working time, otherwise you will waste energy and without rest you will be less efficient.
Use work methods that assume breaks
To increase your productivity you can work in cycles e.g. (10+2)*5 – work for 10 minutes, interrupt for 2 minutes, repeat this scheme 5 times.
Another way is to use the “pomodoro technique”. One “pomodoro” is 25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of break time. If the task is more time consuming you can do more “pomodoro”.
After four pomodoro, take a longer break 20-30 minutes. To be more productive and save time, remember to take breaks.
6. Turn a complaint into an action
Almost all of us complain from time to time. We sometimes treat it as a form of “purification”, catharsis, a release from suffering, a release from blocked tension, muffled emotions, uncomfortable thoughts and imaginations.
Sometimes we seek understanding and support from the people around us. Unfortunately, complaining is not a good way to spend time.
Perform a specific action
Complaining and whining won’t usually make you feel better and won’t in itself change your frustrating situation.
To solve a situation for your own benefit and make it better, instead of complaining and wasting time, plan specific actions, tasks and actions that can help you to improve the situation.
For example, if you’re angry that you’re stuck in traffic and you’re probably late for work, remember to go to work early tomorrow and save yourself unnecessary stress.
If the shop where you ordered something made a mistake in your order, think that maybe nothing so great happened, but in the future you can choose another supplier.
If your computer has refused to obey you, if you have been working on a task and are waiting for a repair from a technician, devote this time to taking up and performing another task. Don’t waste time on complaining and grieving to your colleagues.
In general, remember that instead of being frustrated and complaining, you can always do something more effective, take some action that will somehow change the situation for the better or avoid similar situations in the future.
7. Turn off distracting notifications
It may seem to waste only a few seconds of its time due to distraction caused by notification on the phone or in a mail program, but studies show that it can take more than 23 minutes to fully regain concentration after such distraction.
Notifications from platforms such as emails, SMS, mobile apps, whatever their purpose, will almost certainly distract you from the task you focus on.
Consider turning them off, especially when you need to focus on something and want to maximize your productivity. Really, in most cases you can be offline for a few hours.
Thanks to this disconnection you will certainly do more without being distracted by incoming notifications. When your work is done, you will check the notifications from community media, answer and reply to any messages, call back missed calls, etc., and then you will be able to make more calls.
If necessary, you can inform your loved ones and co-workers in advance of when and when you will be elusive, which will further reduce the number of messages addressed to you during this period.
8. Use your time for commuting
If you don’t work from home, you probably commute to work every morning, or if you’re still in school or college.
Assuming that it takes you on average 30 minutes to get to work one way, although for many people it may be longer, it probably means you lose about 5 hours a week on the move.
Since there is no way to avoid wasting that time apart from possible remote work, the best way to do this is to maximise the use of your time.
To make the most of this time, spend it reading valuable books, listening to audiobooks, answering emails, making the necessary phone calls and other productive tasks.
How you can use this time depends to a certain extent on whether you use public transport, bicycles, cars or other means of transport.
Not every task will be appropriate for a given means of transport. Select the tasks and activities that are appropriate for your situation and that you can do as you travel to your destination.
9. Limit the number of meetings
Unfortunately, inefficiently conducted meetings are often a source of wasted time. Often too many people are invited to the meeting, there is no established agenda and purpose of the meeting.
People meet and discuss, and after the meeting is over, it happens that nothing concrete is finally agreed. Moreover, the meeting lasts longer than originally planned. In addition, there is the time to move from and to the meeting.
It is estimated that the average employee spends one third of his working time at meetings, and this time is often used unproductively. If you spend 8 hours a day at work, this corresponds to more than 2.5 hours a day at meetings or about 14 hours a week.
Imagine that you will reduce the number of meetings you attend by half, how much time will you be able to save?
Many companies use Outlook to schedule their meetings, which sets the default meeting time to 1 hour by default. Do we really need that much time to discuss something? Maybe it’s worth limiting hourly meetings to 15 or 30-minute meetings – so you can save a few hours a week.
Sometimes, instead of meeting, it may be enough to have a telephone conversation and document the arrangements in the form of an e-mail. Before you propose a meeting to someone or accept the invitation, think whether it is really necessary in a given situation.
10. Learn to give up – limit your losses
As people, we often don’t want to give up or abandon projects or tasks that we are already heavily involved in and have invested a lot of time and money in.
People tend to stick to previous decisions (1), even if they have turned out to be unfavourable, if they were associated with high costs or considerable effort.
This behaviour runs counter to economic theory that only present and future profits and costs should influence decision making. Previously incurred costs should not be material. Humans are averse to losses, so they try to avoid them.
Let’s assume, for example, that you spent 2 months working on a new strategy, but you don’t see above-average returns on that investment. Logically, it would be better to change direction and move on to a new strategy, but since you have already invested so much time, you may be tempted to stay a little longer with the current one, trying to make up for your losses. This is not the right approach.
For example, a supermarket has just announced that after 7 years of work and $500 million of spending, they are giving up the introduction of the system. Somebody might say that it is pointless, that it should continue, because so much time and money has already been devoted, so it should continue, but you need to know when to say STOP.
Spending time on something that doesn’t make much sense just because we’ve already spent a lot of time and resources on it doesn’t make sense. Learning when to give up earlier and limit your losses can save you countless hours and other resources.
11. Delegate tasks
Many people are reluctant to delegate a task, on the pretext that training someone to do a task would take more time than just doing it. Besides, some people are afraid that it may weaken their position, that someone will “take away their job”.
This may be true, but it is a short-term strategy. Teaching and training someone to do a task that is often repeated and that you have been doing is an investment that can save you a lot of time.
You may have to invest time in training today, but in the future you will avoid wasting time to do it yourself. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks with a low priority if it means more time to do important tasks with a higher priority and value.
outsource tasks that were previously performed by us, to someone else. It is a solution that will entail expenses, but thanks to the fact that someone will do something for us, we will have time for other more important activities from our perspective.
Instead of cleaning yourself, hire someone to do it for you, you do not want to spend time preparing meals, order diet catering, there are many opportunities in different areas of your life.
Think about how valuable your time is and whether this apparent saving by doing the task yourself is the most effective solution. Delegating tasks to others is a proven way to increase productivity.
12. Do one thing at a time
Stop doing a lot of things at once. Finish one thing, start another. Multi-tasking is harmful to your results in every task you try to do. It causes that we do not devote full attention to any of the tasks.
Performing one task at a time is much more effective than switching from one task to another. This has been confirmed by various studies on the subject.
While it may seem that doing several things at once is the most productive way to work, multitasking causes unnecessary stress to your brain and is likely to reduce the quality of your work for all the tasks you try to do simultaneously.
Instead, focus on one task at a time. You will make fewer mistakes and finish them faster.
13. Clean up your environment
Whether you manage a physical workplace (2) or all the important files you digitally store, order and good organisation count.
With a mess, we waste a lot of time searching. If every time you waste your time to find something, to track down some information or to find something you need, you won’t be able to do much in a day.
Your brain also functions better in a clean environment, so you can focus better and be more productive.
Investing an hour in a systematic reorganisation of the workspace will save much more hours in the long run. Make a good habit of putting things in place.
Perhaps you don’t need any of the things you’ve accumulated over the years, so get rid of them – sell them, give them to someone or just throw them away if they’re not good for anything.
Use electronic versions
If you are still working with paper documents, consider switching to electronic versions and using commercially available cloud-based applications and programs so you can access your data wherever you are, whenever you have access to the Internet.
It’s hard to beat the effectiveness of digitally enhanced search. This can save you a lot of time.
14. Lower your expectations
Frequent advice, is to raise your requirements as high as possible and pursue great goals to motivate yourself to better performance. This can be justified because it is worth setting ambitious goals.
Be careful that the constant pursuit of these high goals does not have the opposite effect. Choosing unattainable goals may block our further development instead of activating it.
What will help you is to determine where you are now. What are your strengths and weaknesses. There is a risk that you will not know how far you can go and what you can achieve if you do not know what resources and capabilities you have at the moment.
When you overdo your goal size, not only will you devote time to tasks that are not optimized for your current skills, but you can also weaken your own morale if you don’t reach it.
Setting smaller, more achievable goals can help you to use your time more efficiently and set a more realistic timeframe.
Everyone, however, should check what works for them, setting themselves smaller goals or big ones. Test and check what is most beneficial for you.
Remember that after achieving a goal, you can always set yourself another one, which will be bigger and more demanding. In this way, you will develop and with each goal you achieve more and more.
15. Communicate carefully
When you claim to be “busy”, you probably skip all the small duties that make up your day or all the optional tasks you decide to do inadvertently or out of habit.
Changing the way you speak may help to draw your attention to those micro-temporal time devourers that occur in your life.
Instead of saying “I’m too busy” to complete a task or participate in an event, say so: “This is not a priority for me at the moment.
This is a subtle psychological trick that will help you find out where your priorities are and draw your attention to everyday habits and routines that take more time than you will notice.
Are you really too busy? Remember, it’s you who sets your schedule. Recover and control your time!
In today’s world dominated by the need to be mega-productive, for many people being busy and lacking time is to some extent a source of pride. But does it really mean that you still don’t have time because you do so many things you need to do?
Perhaps you are wasting your time on a variety of low-value things and activities and you are not even fully aware that this is happening. Maybe you spend more time than you actually need to do to realize what you assumed you would do.
Think for a moment about whether you have bad habits that drain your time, and if so, try to change them.