Hands up if you could use a few more hours in the day. (Both of my hands would be up, but I’m typing.) Time is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I’ve started to realize that I desperately need to stop wasting my own time.
There, I said it, and it’s true. I’m wasting my own time, and chances are that — in some way — you are too. If you want to learn how to stop wasting time, you’re not alone. So, if you’re ready to reclaim a little bit of your day, get more done, do the thing you want to do, and make cool sh*t happen, read on. Here’s where your time might be going:
1. Too much social media.
Okay, obvious, but here me out. It’s not just the fact that we’re all somewhat addicted to social media (myself included), it’s that social media has become the *default* distraction. Taking a break between projects? Open Twitter for “thirty seconds, I swear.” Going to the bathroom? Raise your hand if you’ve ever checked Instagram. What about aimless scrolling? Do we really need to be that caught up?
What seems like a quick thirty second Twitter check usually ends up taking 3-5 minutes, and that Instagram bathroom break? Same thing. Mindless scrolling? That sucks up hours, and that time ADDS UP.
Both Apple and Android offer built-in ways to monitor your phone usage, and I highly recommend you check it out. I discovered that I’m spending roughly 53 minutes on average every single day on Twitter, and that’s *just* Twitter. That doesn’t account for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, or any other platforms. (Granted, Twitter is my most-used platform.)
That 53-minute average is actually less than it used to be, thanks to my ongoing efforts to avoid mindless Twitter usage. The result? I have more free time, I’m happier, and I don’t even tweet that much less than I used to.
2. Poor sleep management.
I don’t know about you, but I’m horrible at this. Research shows that our bodies perform best when we have the same wake-up time every single day. One survey discovered that people with a “strict” wake-up time every single day were 13% more satisfied with their personal lives, 45% more satisfied with their $$, and 42% more satisfied with their work-life balance.
Once we get into the habit of waking up at the same time (ish), every single day, it helps us dive into our days sooner and can even help increase productivity.
Plus, let’s be honest, that pesky snooze habit isn’t helping. If you want to stop wasting time, it might be time to ditch less-than-ideal sleep habits.
3. Task avoidance.
Hello, my name is Jandra, and I’m the queen of task avoidance. Welcome to my kingdom. Avoidance coping is a major problem (aka, procrastination on steroids), and task avoidance is no joke. I’ll do anything to put off other things — even things that I don’t like doing — and I waste my own time in the process. Don’t want to write an article that’s due tomorrow? I’ll start cleaning my house, walking the dogs, exercising, running errands — almost anything that still makes me feel “productive” instead of, you know, doing the thing.The result? I end up having way less time to do it, and I’m way more stressed about that fact.
So why do I keep doing it to myself? Some of it is because I thrive on deadlines and the pressure of last-minute to boost my performance, and some of it is just plain silliness. (Or some subtle self-sabotage.) Usually, I’m waiting for some arbitrary form of “readiness” when all I need to do is just make myself do it. Butt in chair, phone on Do Not Disturb, Google Docs open, start typing.
Just because you don’t know how you’re going to finish something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start. That delay is where a lot of us are losing time.
4. Spending time on things that you don’t even enjoy.
At the end of last year, I decided to scroll through my Instagram Stories archive. I made a list of all the things I saw that made me *really* happy, whether it was people, places, activities, or something else. I thought about how I normally spend my time every single week — especially over the last week. Then, I made a second list — what things didn’t make me happy?
Surprisingly, the list was longer than I expected. Not only were there obvious things (aka, the things I really don’t like), there were also a lot of things that I don’t dislike. I actually found out I was spending a LOT of time on things I was indifferent about. Too much time, in fact.
Obviously, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes we need to do things we don’t enjoy (taking vitamins, going to work, turning off Netflix to get some sleep) to get what we do enjoy (happiness, money, sleep). Other times, we might be losing time to things that don’t actually deserve our time or energy.
For me? I stopped reading as much as I used to. (I still read. A lot.) Don’t get me wrong, I adore reading. I would read all day if you let me. But I realized I was spending *so* much time reading that I wasn’t doing other things that I loved more — or the things that I need to do to make my goals a reality. That’s a problem!
Learning how to stop wasting time doesn’t happen overnight.
You’re probably thinking, “These things aren’t going to magically give me a bunch of free time.” And you’re right! They won’t. But all of the time we lose throughout the day adds up over time.
The average person spends roughly 80 years on this planet. If we take my 53 minutes per day average on Twitter and multiply it over the 60-ish years that I will have actively used Twitter (or some other form of social media networking), that maths out to 1,160,700 minutes of Twitter usage. AKA — 2.2 years. Two solid years of my lifetime gone to freaking Twitter.
If I reduce that Twitter time by only ten minutes a day, that number drops to 1.8 years. Simply by spending 10 minutes less on Twitter, I’ve reclaimed 0.4 years of my life — or 4.8 entire *months* of time — that can be used on literally anything else. Considering I wrote an entire book in 30 days, spending approximately 4 hours per day on writing, so roughly 7200 minutes for one book….that means I could write THIRTY additional books over the course of my lifetime in the time saved.
The time to write thirty books. Just from ten minutes less on Twitter every day.
Worth it? I think it might be.
Obviously this is an extreme example, and writing a book in 10 minute increments every single day sounds like my idea of hell. However, it just goes to show that when we *think* we don’t have time to spare, we’ve probably got more wiggle room than we realize.
If we want to stop wasting time, we need to reassess and reprioritize. It might not be easy, but nothing worth having ever is.