Time Wasters: 13 Things Wasting Your Precious Time and How to Stop it

Written by Domantas Vanagas

November 9, 2021

Whether you are an entrepreneur, an artist, a corporate person, a writer, or anyone else, we all strongly dislike wasting time. Everyone has been through times when we have been at our workspace for hours and we feel like nothing has been accomplished. It can be frustrating sometimes and it is difficult to identify the reason behind such a phenomenon. So, how do we manage our time? How do we make the best of our 24 hours a day?

You are at the right place at the right time to solve this problem. So, without wasting much of your time, let’s get into time wasters time management.

But, before we get into making the best of our hours, minutes, and seconds, we first need to be able to recognize the time wasters in our lives. We have dedicated ourselves to helping you mark and control all the major time wasters and obstacles in one’s daily life. Remember, one brick at a time builds the greatest of castles


1.  Social Media and Push notifications

Many people will agree that they spend a lot of time on social media. And push notifications often lead you to many of your social media feeds. A social media interruption caused by a push notification may keep you engaged in your feed for several minutes. 

If you are a freelancer working from home or a café, this is something you might be struggling with. For a lot of people, this interruption comes from their phones.

A simple solution to this interruption is controlling your social media application notification before you sit to work. Or you can keep your device on silent mode or even keep it off if that is a convenient option for you.

Some smart devices offer options such as ‘productive mode’ that automatically block unnecessary notifications when you are at work. However, the best option is not having a phone on the working table or sight. It lowers the chances of you picking up the phone. 


2. Busy work

Being busy and being productive are two completely independent terms. Busy work is something that seems productive, but the only thing it adds up is to keep you engaged for a long time.

It may make you feel like a hard-working employee, but the value produced at the end is very little. You want to be more productive than busy.

How to get out of this situation?

If you find yourself in such a situation, consult with your manager. Maybe someone else in the office is more suited to take care of the task. Outsourcing may also serve as a solution. 


3. Postponing a difficult task

We face both easy and challenging tasks at work. While we like completing the easy tasks ASAP, we often find ourselves keeping the difficult tasks for a later time. This postponing habit keeps the task pending for a very long time over and over again and our productivity index goes down with it.

You are not exactly wasting your time as you are keeping yourself engaged in easier tasks. But, at the same time, it is no less than a time-waster.

How do you avoid keeping tasks off until another time?

The right way is to take up the difficult task upfront so that you can finish it early. POSEC time management method is all about that, you should try it! Once this is done you can focus on the easier ones. You will end up being more productive and the reward can be seen not very far in the future.


4. Bulky to-do list

Productivity and time management are always backed by to-do lists. You have a list of tasks to accomplish and you have a track of deadlines, often set by yourself. However, keeping a bulky to-do list may end up being a time-waster in your life. Writing everything you need to accomplish on the day is both a good and a bad idea.

When you see your long list of tasks, you are likely to feel a shortage of time to get them all done. Also, in an attempt to accomplish every task, you may have to compromise on the quality of individual tasks. Such situations can waste a lot of your time.

You may end up not being able to finish several tasks from the list. Repeating it over a few days may disturb your peace of mind with a feeling of failure to achieve your daily goals.  

How to maintain a precise to-do list?

For an effective to-do list, you should not keep more than 4 or 5 tasks per day. Your to-do list should contain the highest priority tasks for the day.

Don’t include a lot of difficult tasks in your list. There are high chances that you will not be able to accomplish all of them within 24 hours. Prepare the list the night before. Have your goals ready as soon as you open your eyes in the morning. 


5. Being a Perfectionist

I struggled with this a lot!

Keeping your standards high is very important for producing quality results. That doesn’t in any way mean you should keep unrealistically high standards. You don’t want to devote more time to any task than you actually should. This can cause very poor time management.

Keeping unrealistic high standards will lead you to spend extra hours in revisions to create a perfect result. Why waste extra hours on a completed task when you can take up the next task on the list?

Being a perfectionist may create a situation where you are not satisfied with the final results. You may give up on a project that you have just started, or it may also be detrimental to your health.

How do you prevent such a situation?

Here’s the thing. Perfection is a goal that is unrealistic within itself. Trying to achieve it isn’t worth it since the result you have produced is already widely accepted. If you change your approach to the result, you may notice that it isn’t as bad as you found it to be.

Take help from your colleagues or your manager before finalizing a statement to save some extra hours of revision. Moving slowly is better than trying to prepare perfectly.


6. Forever planning

Planning is one of the most important elements of one’s business. It is the key to saving hours and accomplishing your goals. But, as they say, too much of anything is harmful. When you are overdoing the planning process, it is highly likely to become a time-waster rather than a time saver.

How is it even possible? Take the example of a startup or software development process. If you are planning a lot on how to grow your startup even before starting the actual process, it is delaying the beginning of the operation of the startup. It is eventually a time waster as the time you are putting in in the planning process is producing zero results.

How to be more effective in planning?

You should know when to stop planning and start getting your hands dirty in the task. Set short-term goals and start working on them while you are planning and proceeding towards your long-term goals.


7. Multi-tasking

Multitasking by its core definition may sound like saving extra time as you are handling more tasks than one at the same time. The problem arises within the very nature of human beings.

We are not able to do or focus on two or more things simultaneously.

Multitasking decreases the effectiveness and quality of the results. It may sound like doing great juggling between two or more different tasks, but what we end up doing is wasting time.

How to prevent multi-tasking?

This is as simple as eating a banana. Do one thing at a time. Don’t move on to the next before completing the current task. Follow this rule for better productivity and easier time management.


8. Meetings with no agenda

Meetings are the key to functionality in the corporate world. The people in the meetings are compromising their actual work hours to be there in the room and it is a time-consuming process. Hence, one needs to make sure that the meeting is worth the time.

A meeting without an agenda is just people talking that you may have already experienced in the past. You may also have experience with weekly meetings turning into casual group conversations. Firstly, create an agenda, and then use the Pomodoro technique to make those meetings even more efficient.


9. Poor communication 

Poor communication or miscommunication can negatively impact a business or your personal life.


You may consider poor communication as a two-way time-waster:

Firstly, you have lost time on poorly communicated plans.

Secondly, you have to put in time again to correct the errors from the first condition.

Poor communication or complex detail sharing over email may also turn into a time-waster. You can solve this problem by using advanced file sharing solutions like Google disc to make your work easy. Every second counts and organizing your files is key to the proper functioning of the organization.


10. Work that could be delegated elsewhere

Don’t get surprised when you hear work itself being a time-waster. Such time wasters are hard to identify as what you are doing is work, but that isn’t the best-suited work for you. 

Tasks that can be delegated elsewhere, so that you can focus on the more important tasks, can be considered a time-waster. If you are a corporate manager, it is crucial to identify the best-suited employee for each task you have in hand. 


11. Noisy work environment

Noise is a big interruption in one’s attention at work. It may be a big challenge at co-work spaces or while working at cafés. Researchers have found that the work environment should be no louder than 50 decibels. Though you may not notice it right away, the sounds of laughter, conversations, and even mobile ringtones may break your focused state.

Working in a noisy environment is a waste of time as you will face such distractions over and over again.

How to control the work environment?

If you are a freelancer who prefers working in a café, be sure of the place you select. Be aware of the crowd that visits the place and its surrounding environment.

If you are a corporate manager looking forward to improving the productivity of your employees, focus on the noise sources. Limit the noise within a safe range of sound and witness the increase in efficiency of the organization.


12. Sleep deprivation 

Sleep deprivation isn’t only bad for your health, but it also affects your work efficiency to a great measure. Not having proper sleep at night adds up to being sleepy and tired at work. Your body and brain will not be able to put the required energy and attention to make the best use of your working hours.   


13. Overwork

Many believe overwork is a key to being more effective and achieving more goals. In reality, the exact opposite is more true for the majority of the population. Many people end up overworking only because they couldn’t be time-efficient.

On the other hand, overworking can be a time waster itself.

Why so?

The core reason for it isn’t being able to relax. We as human beings can’t focus on the same thing for very long. Also, overworking can be very tiring and stressful. All these elements add up together to make you less productive at work.


How to avoid time wasters?

The best way to avoid overwork is by being time-efficient at work. If you are facing interruptions while at work, put some time and energy into fixing them. The reward is worth your time.  

As we are talking about time wasters, it is also important to identify what isn’t a time waster. Many times people consider a few practices to be time wasters. But in reality, these practices help them get better at work. Two very common practices in that list are:

1. Rest and Sleep

You would not like to experience burnout while hustling at work. A human body requires a decent amount of quality rest to work efficiently. Getting the proper sleep time is key to being at the top of the game. Your body has the time needed to heal itself when you are sleeping.

When your body has had proper sleep, you can put all your energy into work. Quality sleep keeps you fueled for the day at the workspace. Make quality sleep a priority and enjoy efficient time management when you are awake.

2. Socializing

Socializing is a strong time waster on the list. However, socializing is important to strengthen the organization and build trust among the employees and team members.


How do you identify time wasters in your life?

Time wasters can be subjective to individuals. To be very brief, anything that is consuming your time while at work is a time waster. For example, watching YouTube videos can be a time waster. But if you are watching a video that will help you in accomplishing your task, it isn’t a time waster at all. 

If you are trying to identify the time wasters in your life, and it is difficult to conclude, follow the three-step rule:

1. Set goals

2. Break down the goal into smaller tasks and track time

3. Identify patterns

Start working on your goals and be sure of where you are putting in your valuable time. Have you accomplished your daily to-do list? Did a 5-minute break for social media turn out to be of about 20 to 30 minutes? Are you following up the emails that are not worthy of your time?

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