How to Stop Wasting Time: 5 Ways You Waste Time Every Day and How to Fix Them

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Life is pretty busy for most of us, and so knowing how to stop wasting time on a day to day basis is useful information. We will look at the 5 most common ways people waste time every day, and then ways to fix them with time management strategies.

As you read, think about your habits and whether or not the information applies to you. Let’s get started.

5 of the Biggest Timewasters of Your Day

Pretty much every body wastes time each day. Even organized people. Whether you work from home or in the office, we’re all guilty of getting distracted and losing focus. It may not be deliberate and you probably don’t even realize you’re doing it until it’s too late.

Here are five ways you may be wasting time each day and 5 solutions to how to stop wasting time

  1. Social Media/Emails/Texts

Online communication has become a vital part of our lives. Too often, however, it takes up an inordinate amount of our day. Scrolling through social media can easily morph into a lot of wasted time.

Notifications play a part in this too as the visual pop up or sound catches your eye and draws you away from the task at hand.

Picture this scenario: you’re in the middle of work when your phone beeps. You reach for your phone to see your incoming message. So, you go from message to email to Facebook to Instagram. Then, when you’re done, you notice that 20 minutes have gone by.

Research shows that each time you get distracted, even for a couple of minutes, your brain needs more than 20 minutes to refocus. Imagine how much wasted time that amounts to at the end of the day!

The Fix: Avoid randomly checking social media, emails, or texts. Instead, set up a certain time during your day for doing just that. In the meantime, turn off any notifications or mute your phone.

The one exception I might add to this is regarding texts. Many people, myself included, use texts for more important, timely communication. So you might need to leave text alerts on, but train yourself to only allow the truly important ones to be attended to outside of your normal assigned “social” times. 🙂

2. Organizing and Preparing

You’re probably wondering how this could be a time-waster. 🙂 For a lot of people it is NOT. However, too often we fall down the rabbit hole of ‘organizing’ our day more as a way of procrastinating than actually helping us get things done. I have personal familiarity with this one! 😛

The Fix: Find an online planner and to-do-list. Then, one day a week, plan out the whole seven days in advance. Schedule in work-related projects, meetings, and deadlines. You can also include a workout schedule and get-togethers with friends. Each am, you can do a simple adjustment if something has come up, but you are less likely to go into “prolonged” planning mode.

3. Multitasking

Multitasking is another thing that we do to trick ourselves into believing we’re being productive. Yet, the sad truth is, multitasking wastes a ton of time.

It’s counter-productive when your attention is divided among several tasks at once. In reality, it’s just another form of distraction.

The Fix: It’s simple. Just put all your attention and focus on one task at a time. When you’re done, move on to the next task, and so on. If this sounds like mindfulness, it kind of is. 🙂

4. Checking the News

In this day and age of a 24/7 news cycle, there’s always something happening in the news. It’s tempting to use the news as an excuse for procrastination. After all, we all want to be in the loop when it comes to politics, sports, and local news.

The Fix: Force yourself to stay away from checking news updates every half hour. You can use sheer self-discipline, or you can use a site blocker.

One great example is the Stay Focused Chrome app. It helps you ‘hide’ certain websites for, say, 45 minutes. Then, tell the app you want to spend 20 minutes on the so-and-so website. After the 20 minutes are done, the app will block you again until your next break.

5. Errands and Chores

Errands and chores are necessary activities, but they can become time wasters if we are not careful.

For example, running errands during rush hour is one of the biggest time wasters ever! You will spend extra time in traffic and or in crowded lines.

With chores, you might be sitting at your desk, working away when you notice a dusty shelf or a cluttered drawer. So, you do the responsible thing and start dusting and decluttering.

You tell yourself that it’ll only take five minutes. But then the clean shelf, makes the dusty cabinet next to it look bad, and the next thing you know, you’ve cleaned the entire room/office, and the day is over! And you still haven’t finished what you were initially working on. 😛

The Fix: Plan ahead to do your errands when you know there’ll be less traffic. Also, try to do your shopping when you know the stores won’t be as crowded and they’re in their least peak hours.

OR-if you really don’t have a choice because of your work schedule, you can make good use of the time spent in traffic or in lines. In traffic? Return a phone call or two, or listen to news to catch up. Practice relaxing breathing techniques, or do some isometric muscle exercise. Let your mind wander–not every moment has to be filled with purpose!

As for chores, set up one or two days during the week when you do all the dusting, cleaning, and decluttering. This way, even if something catches your attention, you can more likely leave it be knowing that it will be attended to on your cleaning day.

A Final Note

We all get the same amount of time each day: 86,2400 seconds, 1,440 minutes, or 24 hours. It’s important to learn how to stop wasting time and to fill your days with activities and projects that mean something to you or enhance your life. This can mean different things to different people. Too many of us just let the day steer our actions vs grabbing hold of that rudder and intentionally choosing the direction.

sailboat-choose-the-direction-for-your-day
Choose the direction for your day

The good news is you can learn how to stop wasting time and to focus more and have fewer distractions. Make a conscious effort to add purpose and value to your life and follow through. You’ll soon notice you’re getting more done during your day than ever before!


You know what’s not a waste of time? The 30 Days to a Happier Life Challenge. 🙂 Learn more HERE.

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About Cate

I am a retired RN–stayed home after my second child was born, having worked for 10 years. I am in my mid-50s now, and I enjoy blogging, designing mugs and more and spreading a bit of positivity in the world.

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