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BY SUSAN R. KILEY

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Time Wasters
Douce Fleur /Getty

Time wasters are poor decisions made every day. They cost time and also money. When we indulge in time-wasting activities and behaviors, we fall further from our goals.

3 Basic Time Wasters of Unproductive People and How to Fix

Look at your life today. You have 24 hours. Do you know what you did (will do or have done) for all 24 hours of today? When you stop and think about how you spent your day, are you moving toward goals you’ve set for yourself, or are you not even close to achieving them?

Here’s something to think about. How much of your day is spent on ‘time-waster’ activities or people – sucking the value and life out of your day? There are three basic time wasters unproductive people indulge in daily. 

Significant Time Wasters

1. Procrastination

Procrastination is one of the biggest time-wasters of them all. Either you are a procrastinator, or you know someone who is. Most procrastinators go through life making excuses or find every reason under the sun not to do what they ought to be doing today. Can you relate?

You are a procrastinator if you make excuses like:
I don’t have enough time.
I don’t have enough money.
I don’t know where to start.
I don’t know if anyone cares.
I don’t ____________ (fill in your excuse for procrastinating today).

Procrastination kills dreams and causes people to regret their life. Often we say, tomorrow, I’ll do it. The problem with waiting until tomorrow, tomorrow might not come.

 
2. Not Making Decisions

Not making decisions or making poor choices take valuable time away from you – personally and financially. When you are wishy-washy, you are unable to make decisions with work, family, or daily life activities. Nobody likes to follow someone who is indecisive. Time wasters can’t or won’t make decisions.

3. Social Media

Social media is one of the most significant time-wasters on the planet, in my opinion. When you think about social media, what is the benefit of any of the social media platforms?

Yes, social media has entertainment value. We all love to laugh at the ridiculousness of TikTok or YouTube videos. Laughing and spending time away from work is essential; 100% agree with this philosophy. However, are successful and happy people on social media? Probably not. 

Social media sucks your valuable time away from you. Time you can never get back – wasted. Even if you plan on spending five minutes checking your Instagram account, an hour passes before you realize you’ve wasted that time you can never regain.

If you must participate in social media, set timers for yourself to know when your time is up and return to more productive things. Time-wasters spend a large chunk of their day scrolling social media.  

Doucefleur - Getty Images

Overcoming Procrastination

Frequently putting ‘stuff’ off until tomorrow, later, or never instead of doing them – procrastination. Procrastination (time-wasting behaviors and actions) works itself into every person’s life at some point. Procrastination is another way to say: time-waster. 

From personal experience, whenever I procrastinate, my body experiences both physical and emotional stress – feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and shame. And, the task becomes a negative experience – one I never want to finish – instead of a happy experience I am excited to finish.

Why We Procrastinate

There are many reasons for procrastination (ahem, time-wasting). Maybe you are a poor time manager, or the task you have to complete is boring, or potentially what you need to accomplish brings you increased anxiety – interacting with people, places – to finish the project.

Boredom and a lack of discipline are huge factors of why we are time wasters. If you are working from home, you sit down with good intentions of working, but then your mind wonders about laundry, outside work, or scrolling social media. Time-wasters lack discipline. When you lack discipline, you are unproductive.

This, in terms, comes down to a couple of factors:

Bored and Unrewarding

For starters, the work you need to do is likely somewhat dull and unrewarding. If you had to do work involving making TikToks, playing a video game or shopping, you probably wouldn’t procrastinate. That’s assuming you enjoyed those other activities. You can insert whatever ‘other’ activity you’d rather do then the work you have to do. 

As a freelancer, I’ve often taken on jobs that bored me to death. Because of my boredom with the work, I turned to time wasting activities – social media, old episodes of Master Chef, and playing a silly video game on my iPad. I essentially became a time-waster expert (and not in a profitable way). 

To remain engaged, you’ll want to find and take on jobs (or gigs) that are exciting and rewarding; less you will become a time-waster.

Time Waster
Unknown Owner

Stress and Anxiety

When we feel anxious and stressed, our mind wants to turn to the source of that stress and focus on that – it doesn’t allow us to engage in the things we need to do. This is why we find ourselves involved in time waster activities like TikTok. 

By choosing mindless time-wasting activities like social media, we hope everything else will go away as if it never existed. Of course, this is never the case, and all we are doing is delaying and making everything worse.

Lack of Energy

Often, we are too tired to do the things that we need to do. Perhaps you’ve just had a long day working, and now you need to cook dinner or clean the house. You make excuses to give yourself a ‘5-minute break’ that happens to turn into an hour. And before you know it, that hour turns into three or four hours.

Heck, sometimes we lack the energy to such a degree that we find ourselves watching movies, scrolling FaceBook, or indulging in YouTube video after YouTube video. By the time we even notice, our day is over, and we head to bed, having accomplished nothing.

Fear of Failing

Taking on a large project adds the pressure of completing the task satisfactorily. What happens is if the project is too large, we stress and place unnecessary pressure on ourselves. We find ourselves striving for perfection or not being good enough to complete a project.

Perfectionism is often at the root of a fear of failure.[2] For perfectionists, failure is so terrible and humiliating that they don’t try. Stepping outside your comfort zone becomes terrifying.

According to VeryWellMind, “The fear of failure, which is sometimes referred to as atychiphobia, is a irrational and persistent fear of failing. Sometimes this fear might emerge in response to a specific situation. In other cases, it might be related to another mental health condition such as anxiety or depression.” 

Figure out Where the Fear Comes From

Ask yourself what the root cause of your negative belief could be.[2] When you look at the ten signs that you might have a fear of failure, which ones resonate with you? [3]

If it helps, try to name the source of the fear – doing so will take a little of the fears power away.

More Tips to Conquer and Understand Fear of Failing:

Email / Text Messages

Block time in your schedule to read and reply to emails. This also applies to text messages. Checking in the morning before you start your to-do list and then thirty minutes at the end of the day.

If you spend all day checking and responding to emails or text messages (unless that is your job), you will not get much else completed. For efficiency with emails, create folders for emails that you do not have time to read but would like to read later. You can also use filters to avoid unwanted mail and keep replies short and to the point.

Visitors

Set office hours (especially if you are a home-based business owner) and stick to those hours. Let family and friends know you are working during those hours, and you should only be distracted if there is an emergency.

If you have a dedicated office space, keep your office door closed and hang a do not disturb sign on your door. As tempting as visitors are and can be a good time waster, try hard not to engage with visitors until your to-do list is completed.

No Schedule, To-Do or Plan

Unproductive people have no schedule, to-do list, or daily plan. If you spend your day wondering what you’ll do all day, you will never be productive. Make daily to-do lists or have a planner, use a spiral notebook or get an app for your phone. Put everything on your schedule – deadlines or not.

I personally use Google calendar and share with my partner so we are in sync with daily and weekly meetings, date nights and kid activities. For planners, I’ve tried several, and as long as I use them daily, they are effective. Using my planner for a year cut my procrastination and time-wasting to a minimum. 

For daily to-do’s, I use a piece of paper and keep the list to five or less items. By keeping my list short, I don’t feel overwhelmed or stressed and I feel accomplished at the end of the day. 

Overcoming Procrastination & Time Waster Ways

Find Inspiration. Sometimes a project (task, chore, etc.) is on our not a favorite list, like picking up dog poo in the yard. To accomplish this, you may have to approach the task differently – picking up the poo means your yard will be clutter-free – allowing greener grass to grow.

Having all the necessary supplies. An easy way to procrastinate is when you do not have everything you need to complete your task.

Plan for Success. Spend a few minutes every day identifying how long each item on your ‘to-do list will take to complete. If you are unsure, set a time limit to complete – deadlines help complete and decrease your time waste.

Break it into smaller tasks. If the project is too big, you will feel overwhelmed. When you are overwhelmed, time-wasting happens, and you’ve effectively procrastinated. Breaking the project into smaller tasks will help manage your stress and get the job done faster.

Reward System. Allow yourself a reward for accomplishing even the smallest of tasks. Set more significant rewards when the entire job is completed before moving onto the next project. It’s vital to your mental well-being never to minimize any of your accomplishments – large or small.

As you begin to notice time wasters and procrastination creeping into your day, you can fix a more productive and successful day. First, you’ll need to identify why, ways, and when:

  • Why do I waste time?
  • In what ways do I waste time and procrastinate?
  • When am I most likely to waste time and procrastinate?

 

Once you’ve tackled the why, ways, when’s of your time-wasting, you can then begin to change habits. For instance, you can color-code your to-do list or planner in order of importance. Many will use sticky notes – removing each note as the task is completed.

Next, you will need to identify tasks you typically always procrastinate or find yourself indulging in time-wasting activities. If you are running a business, once you identify those tasks you waste time with, you can then out course for others to complete.

Lastly, you can rid yourself of the simple time-wasters, including procrastination, by holding yourself accountable with strategies such as:

Reminders

  • Using a simplified “To Do” list (don’t overcomplicate or add too much)
  • Night-before preparation
  • Tackle smaller tasks before larger ones
  • Rewards for completed tasks – large or small
  • Removing desk clutter
  • Re-organizing or decluttering your office/work area

 

You can overcome procrastination (and manage your time better). When you can overcome procrastination, you will feel better about yourself.

Stop Procrastination

Stopping procrastination is not very hard. It is just hard in our minds. There are two simple ways to put an end to time wasters (and procrastination).

  1. Make a decision. Either do it or don’t do it. If you want to do it, put it in your planner right away and block the time to get it done. By making a decision, there is no reason to procrastinate. Most decisions take only a few minutes to decide on.
  2. Learn to recognize time waster behaviors. People avoid making decisions by watching T.V., going shopping, scrolling social media, or playing video games – all attempts not to make decisions or complete a task.

 

Pro time-waster tip: Whenever you are asked to do something, always say you need to check your schedule. Give yourself a day or two before responding or committing to anything. Using your procrastination as a tool will help you from overbooking yourself.

Final Thoughts

I will do it tomorrow…
I will get to it soon…

Whatever excuse you use, it’s all procrastination. You indulge in time wasters because you are not excited about whatever you have to complete, you’ve overbooked yourself, or there is no reward for completing the task.

Time wasters cause unnecessary stress. To avoid time waster traps, set your to-do’s in smaller, more enjoyable tasks first (or, for some, do the larger unpleasant ones first) and reward yourself once completed.

Break that project into smaller, daily tasks you can work on over several days if you have a larger project. Be sure to set deadlines to complete and have a reward for yourself once you complete avoiding procrastinating.

The most valuable skill you can develop to combat time-wasting is a sense of urgency. Make things happen today, not tomorrow.

The most important way to improve your decision-making is to realize that you are not perfect. A not ideal decision made immediately goes farther than not a decision at all. 

Live today as if tomorrow won’t exist.

Overall, the best piece of advice I would give someone is… JUST START AND STOP MAKING EXCUSES!

Are you a procrastinator? If so, what do you spend your time on instead of being productive? I’d love to hear where all your time goes… . Let me know in the comments, or send me a private message.

References

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Susan R Kiley is an author, content creation expert, blogger, podcast host and YouTube host. She provides real-world information on how to build wildly happy and successful businesses using content without overwhelm. The Success YOU podcast is all about empowering today’s content creator, aspiring writer and YOU to finally do the dang thing and start doing today that truly makes you happy! Susan also runs a digital agency, Kiley Media.

One Response

  1. I am a huge procrastinator and not making plans. I’m not into social media, so this is not a time-waster for me. However, I do tend to scroll The Chive and YouTube listening to the news, more time-wasting action to be unproductive. I am working on being better, for sure. Thank you for posting, found value in your article. Appreciate the time you put into your articles, Susan.

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