Are you tired of having countless time wasters in your schedule?
Would you like to locate the exact source(s) of wasted time and energy at home, work, school, and beyond?
On one level or another, we all have an inkling about the time wasters in our schedules.
These can be tasks we’ve consciously scheduled into our calendars or can they be tasks that have somehow popped up into our daily routines.
While we know time wasters exist in our busy calendars, we rarely take the time to stop, take a good look, and promptly remove them from our lives.
The good news is once we determine what is truly wasting time in our schedules, we can take back those minutes and hours for what is truly important to us.
In this post, I offer nine tips on how to find time wasters in your schedule.
Time wasters can quickly derail carefully laid plans and schedules.
All the more reason to get clear on what is truly draining our precious minutes and hours…and commit to eliminating these time wasters in future.
So, are you ready to uncover the time wasters in your schedule?
Let’s get to it!
Time Wasters: Defined
What exactly is a time waster?
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to define a time waster as something or someone who distracts, detracts, diverts, or otherwise distances yourself from the plans, activities, appointments, goals, and events, you’ve so carefully crafted for yourself.
Time wasters can cut through a carefully tailored schedule like a hot knife through butter. What’s more, they can leave you feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated.
Time wasters come in many different shapes and forms. They can be a location, an environment, a task, a project, a meeting, an appointment, an activity, or even a person.
And of course, time wasters can be both unpreventable and preventable. There are certain things that are within your control, and there are certain things that are not.
Now, while we can’t prevent all time wasters, such as mandatory work meetings, we can take charge of those lurking in the nooks and crannies of our calendars.
Here’s some tips on how to find time wasters in your schedule:
Identify troublesome scheduling issues.
Sure, looking directly at pain points in your schedule isn’t the most obvious place to look when it comes to finding time wasters, but it sure is a great place to start.
You’ll want to open up your schedule and locate calendar entries that are causing you some sort of frustration, annoyance, or grief. These could be assignments, meetings, projects, activities, events, tasks, or any other type of entry.
Once you’ve found a troublesome spot in your schedule, you’ll need to ask yourself a simple question: What’s holding you back when it comes to finishing the task or completing your work?
Or perhaps is there something else at play? Is your work is being influenced by a time waster?
If you suspect something is wasting your time, you’ll want to eventually…
Locate common time wasters.
More times than not, your skewed schedule may be out of control thanks to any number of common time wasters. These are the tried and true time wasters we all know and love.
These time wasters can be started in a blink of an eye and can subsequently eat up hours out of your day! You might even have a handful of time wasters that you regularly fall back on out of habit or routine.
Your schedule could be needlessly suffering from common time wasters such as the following:
- Gossiping with coworkers and friends
- Automatically checking your phone for email, texts, and social media updates
- Spending inordinate amounts of time surfing through your email inbox with no goal or aim
- Playing mobile games constantly on your phone, tablet, or computer
- Reading click-bait articles
- Watching movies or tv shows non-stop
- Mindlessly surfing the internet, chats, and forums
The solution to combat time wasters is painfully simple. You simply identify the time waster, then eliminate the time wasting activity from your routine.
How can you do this? Some ideas include: temporarily switching digital devices to airplane mode, logging out of your email inbox, and temporarily turning off the wi-fi connection to your computer. In some cases, you may want to avoid the office kitchen or use a productivity app to lock yourself out of programs for a few hours until you finish your work.
Ensure tasks support your goals.
The next step in preventing time wasters from entering your schedule is to determine if a task or activity is truly aligned with your goals. This may not be quite obvious at first, so you’ll have to take a giant step back from where you are so you can see the bigger picture.
What are your true professional, personal, spiritual, mental, and physical goals for this year and beyond?
If you haven’t written down your goals for this year, you’ll want to write them down now. For example, do you want to get a new job this year? How about committing to a regular exercise routine? What about spending more time meditating, reading, coloring, or writing? How about spending more time with your family and friends?
If you’re not clear on your goals, time wasters can quickly sneak in, and take over your precious time and energy.
So, what do you want to be, do, or have in the next several months, year, or beyond? If you need help setting your goals, you should check out my goal-setting post by clicking here.
Once you’ve identified your goals, you can then ask yourself: “Does this activity help me take a step closer towards my goal or not?” If the activity doesn’t support your goals, you’ll want to do your best to remove or eliminate it from your schedule.
What are some other ways to find time wasters in your schedule? Here are some additional ideas to consider:
Evaluate your physical location.
One way to determine if you’re wasting time is to evaluate your physical location. In other words, are you spending inordinate amounts of time in one location, when in fact you’re supposed to be somewhere else?
Where are you physically? For example, are you standing at the water cooler gossiping with coworkers when you should be at your desk? Are you binge watching your favorite TV series on your computer in bed when you should be at your desk writing a report?
Ask yourself this question during the day to get an idea as to whether you’re spending time in the right places…or simply wasting time.
Deal with distracting people.
We all know that other people influence our work and goals, be it positively or negatively. And while we can’t always change who we work, live, or associate with, we can take steps to reduce the amount of interaction time we spend with others.
That being said, what are some ways you can avoid distracting people? One way is to physically limit the amount of time you spend with someone in-person or the time you spend with them via phone, email, and text interactions.
For example, you know you need to work on an assignment, but you always find yourself dragged into a long conversation when you call your friend Joe. In this case, you’d probably want to avoid speaking with Joe until after you’ve finished your work.
Another way to avoid distracting people is to remove yourself from a situation. Make it clear to the other person that you don’t have time to speak with them as in: “Hi, sorry I can’t speak with you right now. I’m on a deadline,” and leave things at that.
So what if you’re having a tough time cutting the cord? You might have to temporarily relocate yourself to a different location in order to do your work.
Purposefully pay attention to procrastination.
As I mentioned earlier, procrastination and time wasters go hand-in-hand. Time wasting can come in the form of procrastination, so you’ll really need to keep your eye out for this one.
However, if you want to truly stop procrastinating, then you’ll have to do some deep personal work.
You’ll need to identify what is holding you back from completing a particular task.
For example, are you procrastinating on a task because you are avoiding someone or fearful of something? Perhaps you are poorly prepared or unsure of your next steps? Once you figure out the cause of your procrastination, you can take steps to remedy the situation.
This can include plowing through your work, learning a new skill, or getting some additional help or support.
Review your calendar for lost time.
Have you ever completely lost all sense of time when working on a personal or professional task?
We’ve all been there, even when a clock is sitting directly in front of our noses!
If you want to find time wasters in your schedule, think about where and when you seem to lose track of time.
Where does it feel like only a few minutes have passed when in fact a handful of hours have flown by?
What specific activities, events, gatherings, or meetings seem to gobble up those minutes, only to your disappointment?
However, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t enjoy a relaxing carefree Sunday afternoon with friends.
But if more of your daily activities make it seem as if the day is just flying by, then you’ll need to reevaluate things.
Determine projects are completed.
Another way of locating time wasters in your schedule to find out if (and how) things are accomplished in a particular meeting or gathering.
Based on the information provided to you has a group or group of people done what they’ve said what they’ve done?
What have you read or heard in a flyer, brochure, website, lecture, or presentation?
Are there statistics, facts, data, results, or testimonials available to back up their claims?
You’ll get the most value out of this tip if you simply observe the situation at hand.
How are things progressing in a meeting, gathering, or series of repeating events?
Are things moving along quickly and effectively in the group…or not?
Once you’ve collected your data, you can make an educated decision.
Is it worth your time to stay with the group or not?
The Bottom Line: Don’t let yourself doubt time wasters.
Remember, you don’t have to stay in one place wasting your time with something that is a complete waste of your time. In fact, the sooner you come to realize this, the better!
Be honest with yourself. How do you feel about this time waster in your schedule?
Is this meeting/appointment/activity/event/relationship something that will truly change yourself for the better?
Or are you simply attending or showing up out of habit, wishful thinking, or pride?
You deserve to have a schedule that supports your goals and lifestyle and sets you up for success.
In conclusion, once you identify a time waster, gracefully remove it from your schedule, and move on to bigger and better things.
How about you? How do you go about finding time wasters in your schedule? What time wasters are you going to eliminate from your calendar? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!
Want to master time management? Check out The Order Expert’s Guide to Time Management, a self-guided eWorkbook designed to help you learn basic time management skills.
If you want to take your time management skills to the next level, learn more about my time management coaching.