Top 10 Time Wasters

By Wendy Hearn

Time wasters will eat up your time and keep you from focusing on what's really important. To free up your schedule, identify time wasters and take action to deal with them. Following are the ten most common ways of wasting time.

1. Not enough time off
To be truly effective, you need to step back and re-energize yourself. Many people try to do more and more, thinking this proves their efficiency. But in reality, excessive busyness reduces productivity and distracts you from focusing on what is most important.

You waste time when you keep doing, doing, doing, without taking enough breaks to reflect and re-energize. Eventually, your health may suffer and you'll reach a crisis point where you're forced to take even more time off.

2. Lack of planning, prioritizing and focus
Without these, you'll find yourself drifting. Your work will be scattered and disjointed. Again, you'll not have time to invest in your priorities, but will waste energy on activities that are not moving you towards your vision. You'll feel directionless; your productivity will drop, and you will inhibit the momentum required to be effective and efficient.

3. Procrastination
Putting things off wastes not only your time, but also your physical and mental energy. When you procrastinate, time is wasted thinking and worrying about the things you need to do, and berating yourself for not getting them done. You'll be ineffective, especially when crunch time arrives and the thing you have been avoiding suddenly becomes urgent.

4. Interruptions
Interruptions may include the telephone, people dropping into your office, and unanticipated events or visitors. Interruptions distract you from focusing on what is important at any given moment.

As much as possible, avoid overlapping different areas of your life. Unless there is an emergency, don't allow your work and personal life to interrupt each other. While enjoying time with your family, avoid becoming distracted by work. Don't take business calls. Likewise, let your friends know that you would appreciate it if they did not call or drop over during office hours- schedule other times for socializing. Focus on one area at a time.

5. Lack of delegation
You'll really waste time if you fall into the trap of thinking that you need to do everything and no one ever does it as good as you. You'll end up doing too much and having insufficient time to focus on what you really excel at - your gifts, strengths and abilities. You miss out on leveraging your time by not allowing other people to carry out your basic and routine tasks.

6. Meetings
Meetings can be time wasters if there is no specific reason, agenda and timeframe for holding them. It's easy to fall into the habit of holding meetings without realizing that some of that time could be spent more efficiently. You'll save time by clarifying the reason and purpose of a meeting.

7. Crisis management, fire fighting
Running around like a headless chicken is a major time waster. You'll be hindered from working on what's important because of all the urgent items getting in the way. Because you're in such a hurry, things will not be done well and may come back to bite you, wasting more time when they need to be re-done.

8. Telephone, e-mail and Internet
As with meetings, it's easy to spend a lot of unnecessary time on the telephone or Internet. Time is wasted when you lack clarity about the purpose of your activities, and when you are easily distracted. It's easy to justify to yourself that you're working hard when in fact what you're doing may serve no useful purpose.

9. Not saying 'No'
Taking on too much adds excessive pressure and prevents you from working at your best. That means everything takes longer; more time is stolen. If you can't say no, it means you don't value your time and you are allowing others to choose how you should spend it.

10. Lack of organization and tidiness
Clutter zaps your energy. Not only does it hinder your effectiveness, it wastes time as you try to sort through the mess. You may find yourself looking through the same clutter time and again. Clutter is a distraction and hinders you from making the most of your time. When you are disorganized, much time can be spent doing the same thing repeatedly.

Now you have a clear idea about time wasters, you are free to make a choice about what, if anything, you want to do about them. To eliminate these time wasters, you must take action. I suggest you periodically re-evaluate how you are managing your time. Honestly assess how you waste time, choose one thing that you want to change and then define the specific action you're going to take to plug the hole in your wasted time.

Wendy Hearn, Coach, works with business owners, professionals and executives to discover and unlock their own inspiration, to effortlessly take the actions required to have the success they desire. To receive Wendy's free newsletter, send an email to:


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