Wasting time can be a great thing. Taking breaks and indulging in distractions gives your body and brain a chance to refresh and actually increases your output over the long haul. Study after study proves this.
The issue isn’t when you decide to kick back. The issue is when you waste time without even realizing that’s what you’re doing. What can be possibly worse than wasting your time without realizing you’re actually wasting your time. Like spinning your wheels engaging in pointless activities that don’t help you move your company or your life forward. Eats through your mental resources, frustrates your need for accomplishment, and is generally a short and sure route to burnout.
So what are these activities that feel important but are actually pretty worthless? Here’s a roundup.
- Checking email constantly. Sure, you can answer that new email or message very quickly, but each time you do, you’re costing yourself the time it will take to refocus on what you were doing before. Stop this habit and set specific times for yourself to process email each day.
- Not just talking to them. Does it take you a 20-minute game of email Ping-Pong to plan lunch or a meeting time? Just simply pick up the phone or go walk across the office.
- Using tech all the time. Every day a new gadget or app promises you to make your life easier. Well, sometimes it’s just a waste of time to test these apps and gadgets. You can just use old pen and paper.
- Under-automation. If you do it again and again and again, you really don’t want to be starting from scratch each time. Invest the energy to make yourself templates (or techies, find more advanced solutions) to avoid this popular time suck.
- Being too available. Don’t be too available, don’t be the friendliest lady in the office. Because that’s exactly when people will interrupt every few minutes. So if you have things to do, tell them!
- Not capturing ideas. Having no way of capturing your ideas will definitely waste your time. Always write down if you have new ideas. Or find a way of capturing your ideas. You can bet you’re wasting time by not having a system to capture your moments of inspiration and locate them again when you need them.
- Having the same fights over and over again. Sometimes you really, really need to just agree to disagree and move on.
- Never refusing a meeting. Maybe your office culture makes this difficult but, if at all possible, consider whether you’re really going to add value to the gathering. Just because you get an invite, doesn’t mean you have to go. Not all meetings are useful.
- Commuting to work. Try to find a way of avoiding this. Even though it’s sometimes unavoidable. But do you really want to spend all your free time getting to work? Think about it.
- Always trying to impress people. Just be yourself, you don’t always have to impress people. Do you really need to put on a full face of makeup for spin class, and does it really matter that you get the font just right on the memo about the new recycling policy?
- Waiting for “the right time.” Whether you’re holding off on tackling that to-do item until the mood strikes you or kicking a more important can down the road in hopes of the “perfect time” appearing on the horizon, think long and hard if you actually need the stars to align or are just giving yourself an excuse not to take potentially scary action.
- Making piles. Either file it properly or chuck it. Piling it up just means rifling through a whole lot of accumulated stuff to take on of those actions later on anyway.
- Addicted to a smartphone. You probably admit this one is a time waster in the abstract, but when the mood strikes to photograph your appetizer, refresh Facebook just one more time, or Instagram that brilliant photo, chances are you tend to forget the time it’s taking. Cut your tech addiction and see how much time magically appears in your day.