20 THINGS THAT WASTE TIME DURING THE DAY
Check out this post for 20 things that waste time during the day to help simplify your life and schedule. Learn some time management tips and strategies to help you be more productive, efficient and get more out of your day.
YOUR TIME IS VALUABLE
Good time management is a super-power. It enables you to get things done that you NEED to do and still find time to do what you WANT to do. We all could do with a little more of that!
Some people are busier than others, some of us have just hit a busy season. Whether you’re struggling with an over-stuffed schedule and life, or just need a few tips to manage your time better, I hope this article can help.
Time is perhaps one of your most limited resources. There are many things in life we can make more of, buy more of, or repeat again if we don’t get it right first time. Time is not one of those commodities.
Think back to yesterday, last week, last month or last year. What were you doing? Did you savour that moment or wish it was over? Did you want to press fast forward, hit the rewind button or just press pause?
Time waits for no-one so instead of letting it run away like water, let’s be intentional about how we invest it. This article is about the things we do that waste our time, often without us realising.
HOW TO BE INTENTIONAL WITH YOUR TIME
As you read the points below, take a few moments to think if they resonate with you. Wasting time looks different for everyone but sometimes it’s good to pause and reflect.
My site is about simplifying life and carving out space for what matters. Space isn’t just the physical space in your home, but it’s space in your schedule and in your heart and mind for what matters to you. Space gives us ease, freedom, less stress, more joy and room to grow and breathe.
Time management and productivity tips are the secret sauce of intentional living. Alongside clearing the clutter in your home, clearing space in your diary, decluttering your schedule and finding the value in slowing down and being less busy are so important in our fast-paced, be more, do more, achieve more, modern culture.
I hope this article offers you some ideas on things that waste your time along with practical tips on how to simplify your schedule and be intentional with your time.
Further reading: 7 ways to be intentional with your time
20 THINGS THAT WASTE TIME
Here is a list of 20 ways you might be wasting time during your day and what you can do about it. See if you recognise yourself in any of them! Avoiding these things could help simplify your life and create more time and ease in your day.
1. Not planning your meals in advance
Get into the habit of planning your meals and snacks in advance, maybe a week ahead at a time.
Without regular meal-planning you’re more than likely to spend precious time each day deciding what to eat and shopping for it. That’s before you’ve even started the cooking!
Check out my post on meal-planning made simple. It suggests more ways you can save time by batch cooking, making the most of your freezer and much more!
2. Watching TV out of habit
TV is a great way of relaxing for many of us and if you’re intentional about watching TV for that reason and you keep track of the time you spend watching it, then that’s fine.
But, what about plonking down on the sofa in the evening. Do you still find you’re on the sofa a few hours later? Did you drop off to sleep in front of the TV? Perhaps you just find yourself watching TV for the sake of it, because of boredom or just out of habit?
Consider whether this might be a waste of your time. Is there anything more productive you could do instead. (Don’t forget that relaxing is productive, so I’m definitely not suggesting you shouldn’t relax!).
3. Mindless scrolling through social media
Keeping up with social media is important to many of us. However, losing track of time and not being intentional about why and what you’re looking at, can be a massive waste of time. Especially if it’s time that you were meant to be using to get other things done!
Keep a check on how much time you spend on social media and perhaps find ways to limit this time during the day if you feel you need to.
4. Not having a visual To Do list
Keeping a mental list of things you have to do means you’re much more likely to forget things.
Seeing them written down on paper will:
- Remind you of what’s important
- Help you prioritise the urgent things
- Stop you relying on your memory – your brain is then freed up for other things!
Check out this post on how to write a great To Do list.
5. Not planning in advance
Planning allows you to have an overview of what needs to be done and when.
You’ll have an idea of what and where you need to spend your time and it stops you wasting time by being disorganised and unfocused.
For example, it’ll help you avoid forgetting birthdays, so you have to go out specially to buy last-minute birthday cards and presents, or making sure your kids have everything they need for their costume for the school play later in the week etc. Read this post on how to plan for the week ahead or this monthly checklist.
Stop putting off things you really don’t want to do. Get them done today and see how much lighter you feel.
Procrastinating just wastes your time. Either decide to get it done today or don’t do it all.
7. Not being organised
Running around like a headless chicken or not being efficient and organised can waste your time. You don’t know what needs to be done, when to do it and you just end up chasing your tail or winging it and hoping for the best.
Be organised so you can plan ahead, prepare and give yourself some wiggle room in case of any problems or emergencies.
Try organising the following:
- Files and storage for all your important documents including emails and paperwork
- Your finances so you pay most things automatically by direct debit
- Your diary so all your appointments are listed and you view it daily.
8. Overloading your calendar or To Do list
Give yourself too many things to do and you run the risk of not getting many, if any, done. Your mind will be all over the place and you’ll be rushing from A to Z with no time for C and completely forgetting D.
All you’ll do is waste your time and energy. You’ll hurtle from one thing to the next, forget things, run late and stress yourself out.
Simplify your calendar and allow yourself some free time. It’s always handy to have time on your side in case things overrun.
9. Getting distracted
One of the biggest ways to waste your time is by allowing yourself to get distracted or side-tracked from what you’re doing. Try to keep focused and complete one task before you move onto the next.
Avoid distractions by:
- Putting your phone out of sight
- Limiting screen time
- Only checking emails at certain times
- Removing social media apps from your phone
10. Not allocating or blocking out chunks of time
Don’t squeeze too many things into too short a space of time. It usually means you either don’t get everything done or you overrun and eat into time that’s meant for other things.
Allocate chunks of time for specific tasks and allow a bit more time for each task than you think you’ll need.
This way you’ll give yourself a bit of leeway and flexibility in your schedule in case things come up or go a bit wrong. You’re much more likely to get everything done and not waste the time you have available.
11. Checking emails when you’re not able to action them
Imagine checking your emails and seeing one (or more) that need a response or require you to take some form of action. Then, say, you don’t have time to do what you need to do there and then, so you mark it as unread and come back to it later. That means that when you do go back to dealing with it, you’ll have read the email twice.
Save yourself some time and only check your emails when you’re able to action them. You’ll only need to read them once.
It also helps to declutter your inbox regularly so it’s not filled with clutter that doesn’t add value. Read more about how to get rid of digital clutter.
12. Relationships that don’t add value
We all have friends who take a bit more than they give or aren’t really true friends that you could rely on, anywhere, anytime. Ask yourself whether what you gain from the friendship justifies the time you put into it. If the answer is no, then maybe this kind of relationship is more a waste of time than a source of support.
13. Multi-tasking and not doing any task properly
If you have too much on your plate, it’s very possible that you’re not actually doing anything on your list very well. Multi-tasking has been shown to have some negative effects on our ability to focus and concentrate on the task in hand.
It’s not possible to do loads of things 100%, there’s a compromise or sacrifice somewhere. If you’re not doing things as well as they should be done, then there may come a point when doing them badly is as good as not doing them at all. You’re just wasting your time.
So, instead, take some of the pressure off yourself, make a point of doing less, but make sure you do it properly.
14. Not being intentional
Whatever you do in life, make sure you know why you’re doing it:
- What’s the purpose?
- Is it because you want to?
- Does it help somebody?
- Does it add value?
- Is it important to you or your family?
- Is it the right thing to do?
If you can’t come up with some good answers to these questions, then maybe you need to re-think the intention behind it.
Not being intentional about what you’re doing and doing something just because you hadn’t really given it any thought, or it’s just a habit, can be a waste of your time. Read more about ways to be intentional every day.
15. Having too much clutter in your home
Everything in your home is there at a price, usually on your time. All your stuff needs tidying, clearing away, looking after, cleaning.
Make sure that your home is filled with stuff that you love, need or want. Random clutter that meet none of these criteria will just waste your time (and energy!).
Check out this post on how to declutter your home and life and how it could help save time (energy and money!).
16. Not batching work/errands
This applies whether you’re at home or at work. If you batch similar tasks together then you’re much more likely to stay productive.
Skipping from one type of work to another, just like the multi-tasking we talked about earlier, means your brain has to adjust to the different requirements of each task. Read more about batching.
Here are some examples:
- Get all your emails read and replied to in one go
- Do all your errands in town in one trip
- Make all your phone calls in one sitting.
Don’t flit between tasks as you’ll lose concentration along the way, forget where you got up to and it’ll waste your time.
17. Not keeping an ongoing shopping list
Do you come back from a shopping trip only to find you’ve forgotten an item, so you have to go back or go without? Are you sure you’ll remember that you used up the last of the butter? Or will you forget by the time you come to place your online food shop or you’re in the actual shops?
Keep an ongoing shopping list in the Notes section on your phone which you update regularly.
It will stop you forgetting what you need to buy and it’s much more likely that you’ll have your phone to hand when you’re in the shops rather than a little bit of paper.
Check your shopping list when you do your weekly shop too. Which leads us on to…
18. Not doing a weekly shop
This is one of my favourite tips for saving myself time but it’s not for everyone!
How many times have you had to pop to the shops several times in the week because you haven’t been organised or disciplined enough to stick to a regular weekly shop and you’ve run out of food? This just wastes time.
Instead, try sticking to a regular weekly shop. You can easily calculate if you’re going to run out of something during the week and you know exactly when your next shop is due. You can sit and plan what you need for the week ahead and with online food deliveries, at the click of a button you can have it delivered to the comfort of your own home.
It saves time on multiple trips to the shops for the odd item or two, finding car parking spaces, tickets for the car park, not to mention the faff of taking little kids out shopping!
19. Losing things
When you’re disorganised, with no clear systems and strategies to help you get and stay organised, then it’s easy to lose things and you waste time looking for them.
Try organising your:
- Bag so you can find what you need
- Computer desktop so you can find files and photos easily
- Entrance way so you can leave your keys in a safe place
Read this post on 20 ways to be more organised for some helpful organisation tips.
20. Prioritising the wrong things
You spend your time and energy pursuing these things when actually they might not be so important in the long run.
Take a moment to review your own priorities for the day, week or longer term and assess them regularly.
“The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” (Stephen Covey)
FURTHER RESOURCES ON TIME MANAGEMENT AND PRODUCTIVITY
These are just some of the things that can waste your time and some ideas on how you can change that!
The things that waste your time probably look a little different for everyone so pick the tips that apply best to you.
Here are some other resources which you might find helpful:
- 20 ways to get rid of digital clutter – save time sifting through files, folders and your inbox
- 20 best time management tips – strategies and techniques to help you save time and be productive
- Why you should slow down sometimes – find the value in being less busy
- 15 ways to make life easier – little tips to help ease your day and free up your time and energy
- 10 tips for clutter-free living – how to make space for what matters
- 18 signs you are too busy and what to do about it
- Simple Productivity Planner – a printable planner to help you get organised, productive and declutter your schedule (plus much more!)
NEED A LITTLE MORE HELP?
If you struggle with motivation, consistency, dealing with distractions, managing your time and prioritising getting the right things done, then maybe I can help?
Maximise Your Time is my popular little time management course. We’ll explore how you use your time, ways you can be more productive and find more time for the things you want to do, not just what you have to do.
There are actionable challenges, simple tasks and a series of step-by-step lessons to help you declutter and make the most of your precious time.
Click here to read more about Maximise Your Time and how it could help you!