How much do you get done in a day? How much COULD you get done? Have you ever stopped to think about it?
If you’re interested in how to stop wasting time, then more than likely you’re a serial procrastinator who’s often distracted. But other people who are more focused still manage to become scattered and stressed over all the tasks that need attending. Whether you’re the former, the latter, or a combo of both… you found your way here because you know you want to Stop Wasting Time. And that’s a pretty good goal to have.
How are you at managing your time?
Before we start talking about time-wasters, let’s first get into time management. How are you at managing your time? Think about this for a minute. We only have a certain amount of hours in a day, days in a week, weeks in a month, months in a year, to accomplish what we desire. So have you thought about what you want to accomplish, and the steps it will take to get there? How long will each of those steps take?
Maybe you haven’t considered any of this. It’s okay if you haven’t, but it’s actually a clue as to why you feel as though you don’t ever have enough time. And it stands to reason that if you haven’t learned how to manage your time in the first place, then you’re probably wasting a lot of it due to lack of planning and control.
Good time management begins with knowing what you want to accomplish. Meaning, goals. Do you set goals for yourself? You may have vague goals swimming about in your head, i.e. “I’m going to get out of debt one day”. Or maybe your goals are practical and concrete, more along the lines of “Pick up the dry cleaning before Friday.”
Good goals keep you focused and so you will stop wasting time on things that don’t lead towards the accomplishment of those goals.
Time management is often approached in the following ways:
Planning in advance using a calendar
Some people set goals using a planner or calendar. This is probably the most sophisticated form of time saving. Knowing what exactly you want to accomplish in the long term, setting a date for completion. But the thing is that long-term goals must be broken into smaller, more tangible goals if we can ever expect to check them off. Think of a long-term goal you have for yourself — let’s say, that “get out of debt” goal from earlier. What will you do to reach this goal? When you decide on your plan of action, you can jot it down on your to-do list, below.
Keeping to-do lists
The same people who pen their goals onto a calendar may also write lists. These are the lists of day-to-day necessities that they must accomplish in order to keep their lives moving forward. Lists can include shopping lists, to-do lists, maintenance and upkeep lists, bill-paying lists and more. Others who write lists may have an idea of their short-term to-do list but get fuzzy when it comes to goals with a more extended shelf life. Maybe they have trouble seeing the big picture. This can be as big a reason why we waste time.
If we combine the long-term calendar planning method with the to-do list method, we soon have the makings of a practical goal that will help you make better use of your time. One mini goal of your “get out of debt” plan could be “set a minimum payment that you can afford each month and stick to it. Another goal might be “Find a zero-interest credit card and transfer your balance there.”
“Checklist goals” such as these will help you use your time more productively because you’ve set a date for achievement and outlined the practical steps to getting there. Now you don’t have to waste time rifling through paperwork month after month, checking and rechecking your account balances — because you’re going to stick to your payment making goals.
If done correctly, this technique it will save you time in your days, weeks and months ahead.
Some people don’t plan their calendar, nor do they keep lists – certainly not on paper, and not even in their heads. These are the types of people whose time is most likely to slip away from them. This is because they don’t have a clear vision of their own intentions in the first place. They’re easily derailed from accomplishing important things in their lives because they never set out to get them done.
Here’s another cool thing about goal setters and time management. People who accomplish more in less time do so because they keep their eye on the prize… a goal. Either the immediate or the looming long-term future. If someone or something interrupts them in the middle of trying to achieve the means to their end-goal, they know how to re-focus their effort so as to continue striving to reach that desired goal.
Are you a goal achieving time manager, a time waster, or something in between? This is the first thing to consider if you really want to stop wasting time.
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Till Next Time
Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor