We all have excuses for why we keep putting off the really important stuff that we want to do.
And if we’re smart, we’re aware of these excuses that we keep making.
But then what we do?
We go back to forgetting about it because we’re too busy with all the other stuff.
Well, there’s the odd case where something happens that shakes us up a little or scares us into starting the thing we’ve always wanted to start, but eventually, everything else piles up again and we’re forced to put our “important” thing back on hold.
But the funny thing is, we’re actually not forced to put our important thing back on hold.
We’re not forced.
We just do it anyway, unconsciously.
And then we blame it on “being too busy” and “never having enough time.”
It’s a time management issue, right?
“Time management” isn’t even a real thing.
At least not in my opinion.
Time management is just a term that we often use to help us fantasize about our most unrealistically perfect and productive day.
It distracts us from the fact that our time is actually very limited and that we can’t get everything we really want to get done in one day.
The only thing that’s real about doing important stuff versus doing not-so-important stuff is prioritization.
In other words, we have to stop doing certain stuff to free up time to do the more important stuff.
It’s literally the only way.
I don’t know what your important stuff is, but I can pretty much guarantee you that I can give you some good ideas about some of the things you do every day or often enough that can be given up or at least largely scaled back.
Here we go.
1. Hitting the snooze button repeatedly.
Besides simply wasting valuable time in the A.M., your body clock takes a harder hit every time you slam the snooze button — making it more painful every time it buzzes.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, and for the love of gravy, DON’T SLEEP WITH YOUR PHONE.
Get an alarm clock that gradually wakes you up with birds singing or crickets chirping and stick it far across the room so you have to get out of bed to shut it off.
See my previous posts, how to go from waking up miserable to exhilarated every morning and the genius way to reset your sleep for more tips on how to tackle this.
2. Washing your hair daily.
Yup, I said it.
Don’t wash your hair!
Wait, no, please do wash your hair — just don’t do it every day.
Here’s the thing — I’m a lady with long hair who has trained the natural oils of her hair (err, scalp?) to go as long as 5 to 6 days without having to be washed, and yes, I often break a sweat on a daily basis from working out.
And no, I don’t look like homeless greaseball (usually).
It’s not gross, and it can be done — especially with the magic of dry shampoo (or in my case, baby powder).
3. Showering too long and too often.
Following along with the down-with-personal-hygiene theme (but not really because we’re just being more efficient about it), science says we’re mostly overdoing it and that we only have to gently wipe down the parts of our bodies that produce the most sweat and, um, smells.
Showering takes anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes or longer, not including that actual “getting ready” part afterward, so if you can, skip a day or two to cut down on grooming time and save your skin from drying out.
A nice bonus is that you’ll save money on your water and hydro bills while also decreasing your carbon footprint a little bit.
4. Working out for more than 20 minutes.
If you believe you have to work out for longer than 20 minutes (except for maybe an extra 5 minutes to warm-up and cool down), well you’ve been led to believe wrong, my friend.
Long workouts aren’t just huge time sucks, they’re also stressful on the body, and you’re much better off doing an intense HIIT session or lifting crazy heavy weights super slowly with zero momentum at just 6 to 8 reps until failure.
5. Watching any TV at all.
TV is the WORST.
Do I really need to explain?
The average American watches 3 to 4 hours of TV every day — easily adding up to a full 13 years worth of entertainment-induced, zoned out living (not including time needed for sleep) over the average lifespan.
Sure, it’s enjoyable, but t’s not adding any productive value to your life, it distracts you from the present, and anything you watch will be forgotten about once it’s over anyway, so stop wasting so much time with imaginary pictures and sounds coming out of a flat, shiny box.
6. Consuming the news, online or anywhere else.
Okay, so if TV is mostly the bad guy, the news is its evil sidekick.
Most news is useless noise that’s designed to hit you right in the emotions to keep you hooked so that networks and advertisers can make money.
If you’re gonna consume news, do it wisely and intentionally by being EXTREMELY picky with your sources and seriously limiting your time with them.
7. Commuting pretty much anywhere.
People literally waste YEARS of their lives driving from point A to point B and sitting in traffic while doing it.
If you can do anything at all to cut down on commuting — like work from home, get everything done once a week in one trip, have stuff delivered, outsource stuff to other people — then by all means, do it to save yourself a ton of time.
8. Having notifications enabled on your phone.
99.9 percent of the notifications you get on your phone aren’t urgent, and really, you should only be using notifications for urgent stuff, because an app that can steal your attention away at any given moment is nothing but a bad distraction.
Take the time to disable all of them — even your text message and phone call notifications if you receive a lot of them throughout the day.
9. Having your phone with you literally all the time.
Nomophobia, a.k.a. the fear of being without a phone, is a real thing, and the worst part about it is that most people who have it are likely oblivious to it until they actually do get separated from their phone.
There’s absolutely no need to have your phone with you when you’re in a deep state of creative work, exercising, meditating, going for a walk, having dinner, or spending time with your kids.
If you use your phone to listen to music, get one of them old school iPods that don’t double as a phone and a mini computer.
10. Getting sucked into the never-ending cycle of chores and housework.
I have two big tips that can drastically help you reduce your time spent cleaning up your house or apartment:
- Embrace minimalism.
- Outsource as much as you can to cleaning professionals.
Minimalism is often much more about streamlining your mental process than it is about giving away all of your belongings and living a hipster-like world traveling lifestyle.
If you have fewer decisions to make about when and how to keep your home clean, you’ll not only have reduced the physical clutter in your home, but also the mental clutter that those physical things create for you.
Outsourcing your housekeeping, laundry, yard work, and even errand running may cost money, but you’ll be gaining a lot of time back while freeing up a lot more mental space so you can focus on what really matters.
If you’re not convinced, try outsourcing something for at least a month just as an experiment.
You might be surprised how much it changes your life in such a short period of time.
11. Prepping and cooking each meal individually.
It’s often difficult enough to eat healthy on a consistent basis, so why make it harder by being indecisive about what to eat and spending all your time cutting, chopping, marinating, boiling, baking and doing all that other meal prep-related stuff?
The smartest eaters are the ones who take the time once a week to plan their meals for the entire upcoming week and do all their prepping and cooking in huge batches so they get it all done just once.
If you want to take this one step further by eliminating all the decisions you need to make in order to figure out how to eat healthy, I recommend checking out the automated meal planning service Eat This Much to help you decide what to eat and generate grocery lists for you based off of the meals it suggests.
In Toronto, where I live, we also have food delivery services like Fresh City Farms and Front Door Organics that specialize in delivering organic veggies and other types of food to help busy people avoid wasting time and energy doing all their shopping themselves.
12. Saying “yes” to everyone who asks you for something.
If you’re a big people pleaser, then you likely have trouble saying no to anyone who needs your help with something, and maybe you even do it to validate yourself and prove your usefulness.
To take back control of your own agenda, you absolutely must learn to identify what you can and can’t say “yes” to, and be assertive about it — regardless of how other people might react.
It is possible to say no without sounding like a jerk.
Be honest, be polite, and the people who respect you and your time will learn to be fine with it.
13. Overanalyzing things and being unable to make decisions.
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” — Yogi Berra
Most people don’t even realize how much time they waste in limbo land when a decision has to be made, because they’re always just too caught up in the crazy thoughts and emotions flying around in their heads.
I’ll admit that decision making can be tough, but not making a decision is far worse than anything else.
Despite all the “what ifs,” there isn’t ever really a wrong decision when you simply learn to go with your gut.
If you struggle with listening to what your gut says, defer the decision making process by putting it out of your mind completely and moving onto the next important thing.
You may just need some time for it to settle into your subconscious or possibly get feedback from someone else in the meantime.
14. Trying to figure out something technical all by yourself.
Whether it’s a broken dishwasher or even something as simple as a laptop keyboard with a wonky letter “E” that never quite types itself right, you could waste hours and hours Googling possible solutions, reading through forums of people who’ve had the same problems, and struggling to fix things yourself (and then often failing miserably or doing a sloppy job at it).
Or you could just get a professional to take care of it.
Just like outsourcing tedious housework can save you a ton of time, doing the same for the technical types of things that need repairs and maintenance is worth the money if it means you won’t waste hours of your own time trying to do a crappy job that isn’t guaranteed to work.
15. Performing administrative tasks.
One of these days, I totally plan on hiring a virtual assistant, and that will be a glorious day.
For now, I have my accountant to take care of my financial stuff while I make use of software like Freshbooks, Mint, Evernote, and others to stay as organized as possible.
Administrative tasks are meant to be outsourced.
Maybe not yet, but eventually, you’ll get to a point where you get fed up enough to pay someone else to do all the paperwork, financial stuff, scheduling, filing, emailing, and every other boring admin task that’s stealing so much precious time from your life.
16. Any type of multitasking whatsoever.
Multitasking presents itself to us in subtle ways.
For example, leaving your email client open on your desktop while you work on something else is considered multitasking.
As soon as you get an email, you get a notification, and you’re immediately distracted by it.
An experiment conducted on office workers found that the average worker only gets about 11 minutes between each interruption, and it takes them about 25 minutes to return to a task after being interrupted.
The only way to be the most efficient at getting through your day is by eliminating interruptions / distractions and giving 100 percent of your attention to working on completing one task at a time.
17. Shopping and running errands more often than you need to.
Okay, so we all need to run errands, but how often are you doing it and are you being strategic about it?
Unless you have several appointments that require you to be somewhere at a specific time on a specific day, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do everything in one trip, just once a week.
It just takes planning.
Pick a day where you have a few hours to do everything, and then spend some time listing out everything you need to do plus the most efficient route to take to get to each location so you don’t have to spend excessive amounts of time in transit.
18. Having a major or minor addiction to anything.
Addiction shows up in more ways than just the obvious.
Besides smoking, drinking, gambling, eating junk food, playing video games, and watching porn, there are more subtle addictions most of us don’t even realize we have — and this is especially true when we perceive them to be “healthy.”
Examples: I’ve personally struggled with being addicted to counting calories, exercising too much, endlessly editing my work until my brain can’t handle it anymore, checking/posting on Facebook because of FOMO, straightening my hair, buying personal development books or courses but never finishing them, and probably a bunch of other stuff too.
Get honest with yourself and learn to identify these more subtle addictions so you can consciously tame them and save yourself a ton of time.
19. Dwelling on the past.
Our own mistakes, failures, and downright embarrassing moments tend to stick more in our heads than our successes.
If we’re not careful, we can end up contemplating our past way too much in a way that causes us to let our most regretful experiences define how we see ourselves in the present.
Everyone has a past, and even though your past is definitely a part of your story, a specific mistake or failure doesn’t ultimately define who you are today.
Don’t even waste your time thinking about it.
Choose to extract a lesson from a painful past experience, let the rest of it go, and move on.
20. Worrying about the future.
Thinking too much about the past and the future is a primary way we procrastinate.
It’s all thinking and no doing.
Well, guess what?
The future nor the past exist — they’re simply projections of your mind.
The past is gone and all you have are your own memories; the future is yet to arrive and all you have are your own predictions.
Remind yourself that in reality, all you have is now.
21. Attending meetings.
I chose the freelancing life for a lot of reasons, and AVOIDING MEETINGS is one of them.
If you work in a corporate or team environment, then you know the drill.
If not completely unnecessarily scheduled, many meetings are dragged out far longer than they should be, or they require your attendance when you really don’t need to be there.
Whenever a lead expresses interest in having a phone or Skype meeting with me, I make sure to qualify them first by email with a script of questions to make sure I’m not going to waste my time.
If I worked in a corporate environment, I’d try to come up with all sorts of reasons to tell my boss why I’d be better off spending my time working on X or doing Y instead of attending every single meeting held by my department.
22. Making small talk about the weather or anything equally as lame.
In social situations, you have the opportunity to learn from someone and discover new things about them, how they think, and what they know.
Why waste that time by talking about the weather, traffic, some dumb celebrity breakup, some even dumber girl on your Facebook friends list, or the latest Netflix series everyone’s shamelessly addicted to?
I used to think I was socially awkward — turns out I’m just one of those introverts who’d rather have deeper conversations than shallow chitchat.
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” — Eleanor Roosevelt.
P.S. I plan on writing a blog post featuring questions to ask other people (even acquaintances or complete strangers) so that you can kick off interesting conversations without seeming too forward.
23. Snacking or eating too often.
You’ve heard this tired diet tip before:
Plan 4 to 6 small meals or snacks a day, and make sure you eat every 2 to 3 hours.
Good lord, that’s a lot of time spent planning and eating, eating and planning… planning and eating.
It turns out that having as little as two big meals a day is just as healthy, if not better for some people.
Scientists are beginning to discover more benefits related to intermittent fasting, and the big bonus in the trend is that it helps you simplify your meal planning and time spent eating so you can focus less on food and more on other important stuff in your life.
24. Never putting anything back where you found it.
I remember reading a great tip from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits that went something like this:
Put just one item away every time you get up from your chair or couch (or wherever) to take a break or move to another room.
Imagine how much time you could save by simply throwing out a piece of garbage that was lying around, or putting that book back on the bookshelf, or throwing your sweater in the laundry hamper right away rather than letting everything pile up and collect even more stuff around it over time?
Many of us tend to let our workspaces, our bedrooms, our kitchens, our bathrooms, our living rooms, and our entryways become so disorganized and full of clutter that we eventually have no choice but to dedicate at least a half hour or longer to cleaning it up at some point.
Putting one thing away takes just a few seconds.
How hard can that be?
25. Worrying about what everybody else thinks.
This is pretty much the mother of all problems many of us face today, and it goes hand in hand with overanalyzing things and having trouble making decisions.
We often hesitate to take action because we get stuck in the trap of overthinking how other people might judge us for what we do and how we are.
It’s such a pointless habit to get sucked into, because no matter what, you can never control how other people perceive you, nor can you please everyone.
Regularly pushing this harsh fact into your awareness should hopefully be enough to convince you to forget about what they think, and just stick to doing and being what you know is right for you.
26. Working for too long without taking breaks.
Whether you involve yourself with mental work, physical work, or a combination of both, taking breaks absolutely must be part of the process if you really want to avoid wasting time by struggling to venture forth with depleted energy reserves.
Just like you need to give your muscles time to recover and rebuild themselves after breaking them down during an intense heavy lifting session at the gym, the same general idea stands for your cognitive functioning too.
Breaks give your cognitive energy a refresh so that you can sustain your focus and momentum longer than you would if you took a balls-to-the-wall approach, thus making you more efficient and saving you more time.
I recommend the Pomodoro technique.
I’ve written about it before, and I’m using it right now as I write this (as I do every day).
27. Zoning out in front of a TV, computer or smartphone screen when you do take a break.
Listen, I’m bad at this.
I spend all day with a computer, and then what do I do?
I catch myself zoning out by browsing Instagram or watching Netflix when I’m not working.
An appropriate break is NOT the equivalent of a brief love affair with your phone or tablet or TV monitor.
Not only are they cheap sources of stimulation that can make you more neurotic than relaxed, but they’re also just designed to get you hooked — and then you end up spending more time in front of those screens than you had originally planned.
I recommend walking, stretching, or mindfulness meditation instead.
No, it’s not as flashy and exciting, and yes, it’s hard to do when shiny screens are calling your name, but these activities are so much better for both your productivity and your overall wellbeing.
28. Tossing and turning in bed night while you try to fall asleep.
If you can’t fall asleep, trying to force it by simply lying there often only wastes more time.
The trick is to get up and do something that will make you sleepy.
Keep the lighting very low (and don’t even think about watching TV or browsing your phone) while you do some reading, meditating, journaling, or listening to calming music.
An even better idea is to make these relaxing activities a part of your getting-ready-for-sleep routine every night so that you never have trouble with falling asleep fast ever again.
29. Checking your inbox and answering emails ASAP.
Unless you’re in some type of customer service position where you have a commitment to answering customer emails as quickly as possible, answering emails shouldn’t be done more than once a day — twice at a maximum.
As a freelancer who collaborates with as many as 10 to 15 different business owners, team members, and editors on a daily basis on various projects, I’ve struggled a lot with setting limits on checking email out of fear of them piling up too much.
In reality, however, carving out a specific time slot where you can just take care of emails all at once is the fastest way to get through them, and it’s totally in line with the “no multitasking” tip.
Pick a time to allow yourself to tackle your inbox, and close your email client down until that time arrives.
30. Browsing and posting on social media.
Social media posting is really only necessary if you’re doing it to promote your business, but even then it can become a circus-like time suck when planned and executed incorrectly.
Posting for personal reasons is just plain distraction and a total ego trip.
I use social media both for business and personal reasons, and the worst part about it is that it’s too easy to get sucked in to my news feeds and interactions when I need to use it intentionally, a.k.a. posting and then leaving.
These days, I use the Go F*cking Work website blocker extension for Chrome to block all my social media sites, which I can put on pause for five minutes while I do my posting before it goes back to being blocked again.
I also sign out of my accounts on all my social media apps on my phone during the day to avoid checking them and losing myself in browsable nonsense.
31. Reacting on impulse.
You’d think that being impulsive would probably be a good thing sometimes, because it involves simply being driven to act instantly without having to take the time to consider or plan out what to do.
While there are those individuals who seem to know how to handle some sort of problem or situation almost perfectly within seconds of being prompted to do so, the reality is that they often only appear that way because they have a lot of experience from similar past problems and solutions they’ve had to deal with, and back then, they probably weren’t so quick at figuring out what to do.
Impulsive reactions can lead to more mistakes and extra time needed to fix them later when we don’t have as much experience handling the problems and situations that are thrown in our way.
You better believe that if a troll decided to send me hate mail, I wouldn’t impulsively write back in such an emotionally provoked and wounded state.
Instead of writing back the moment after reading it, I’d wait a few minutes, an hour, or even several days, which would likely help me let go of it entirely and end up saving myself both the time and energy of having to write back at all.
32. Having long-winded conversations via text message.
As someone who’d prefer to choose texting over talking on the phone in any situation, I have to admit that there are those times when phone calls are just necessary.
Planning any kind of event plus a date and time to do it with one or multiple people is wildly time consuming to accomplish via text message.
When more than 2 or 3 people are involved in the conversation, I’d recommend using a tool like Doodle to send out a poll so everyone can easily specify what dates and times work best for them, and then you can just look for the date and time that lines up with everyone’s schedules to save you the time and confusion of going back and forth trying to coordinate something with everyone.
33. Trying to control everything and everyone around you.
I’ve personally put a lot of effort into developing good habits, thinking I could totally stay in control of them at all times and still execute them perfectly even when undesirable outside factors would influence them.
How naive I was.
While we can make our own choices about what we want to personally take action on in any given moment, unexpected events or outcomes will always undoubtedly happen that will throw us off track, and other people we interact with will disappoint or frustrate us more often than we might care to expect.
It’s better to accept the fact that you aren’t really in control of the future no matter how well planned and self-disciplined you think you are, while consciously working to improve on how you can flow with the changes and challenges of life.
Spoiler alert: That means being okay with not being perfect.
34. Spending too much time in the planning phase.
Point number 31 touched on impulsiveness, but the opposite can be a big problem too.
And yes, I’m talking about spending all your time planning and preparing for something, but none of your time (or very little of it) taking action.
I’ve always been someone who’d prefer to over do it with planning, and while that can be okay when you’ve got a set deadline for when you absolutely need to start taking action — no questions asked — this can be a huge problem when nobody else is expecting anything from you and you’re the only one responsible for setting (or not setting) deadlines for yourself.
I love to read and take courses, but when it comes to taking action on the things I learn, I always question whether I know enough or if I’m ready, so I go back to reading and watching tutorials and writing out endless lists and journal entries centred around what I learned.
Planning is absolutely useless if you’re not taking the appropriate amount of action to move you forward.
35. Keeping friends around simply because you’ve been friends forever.
Oh man, this is a big one that almost everybody is probably guilty of doing.
Raise your hand if you’ve felt obligated to keep in touch with someone simply because you have a long history together, despite growing apart in recent years and not getting any real value from the relationship anymore.
At some point, we all need to take a good, hard look at the people we spend our time with and decide which relationships feel like they’re helping us grow and the ones that feel like they’re holding us back.
This is not an easy thing to do at all, especially when it comes time to confront that friend about it, but the reality is that some relationships are just meant to have expiration dates.
Harsh, but true.
36. Seeking validation from others.
A lot of people go out of their way to act differently to impress and gain approval from their spouses, their friends, their relatives, their followers on social media, and even complete strangers.
If you rely on others to validate you, you’ll never be able to focus on your own intentions, because you’ll be spending so much time and energy trying to fish for compliments and praise from everyone else.
This goes hand in hand with point number 25 — worrying about what everyone else thinks of you.
Nobody else can validate you, and no amount of praise or compliments will be significant enough to make you feel confident and sure of yourself as an individual.
Only you have the power to do that for yourself.
37. Being a perpetual excitement seeker.
I know a few people who can’t stand being bored or being alone for very long.
These are the types of people who are easily irritated by routine work and slow progress, so they give up easily and seek out something more exciting.
The trouble with excitement is that it’s not meant to last, and the feeling is always fleeting.
Everything that you think is exciting only feels that way because it’s a rare and different experience than what you’re used to.
When you get addicted to excitement, it can become such a big distraction that it actually sets you back in everything you’ve tried to work toward.
The real trick is to seek out exciting experiences that motivate you to keep going rather than distract you from tackling a challenge.
38. Rewarding yourself with counterproductive things.
Here are some good examples of how you should never reward yourself:
- Treating yourself to an entire large pepperoni pizza this weekend because you lost 10 pounds this month.
- Spending your entire lunch break bombarding your brain with stupid social media news feed crap after consistently staying focused at work and making excellent progress on a project.
- Sleeping 10 hours or more on the weekends because you’ve been getting less than six hours of sleep every night during the week.
Everyone deserves to be rewarded, even with their own guilty pleasures from time to time, but you have to learn how to do it in a way that doesn’t erase part of your progress, distract you completely, or hurt your health and productivity.
39. Never finishing the books or courses that you bought.
I do this with more than books — I do it with online courses too.
There are all sorts of books sitting on my bookshelves that I have yet to read, plus lots of different online courses I’ve started but never finished.
And yet I kept buying more.
While you might learn a few things just by starting to read a new book or watch a few lessons of a new course, you’ll never get the full benefit of the complete offering if you never finish it.
And even if you want to return to it someday in the future, maybe several months or even years later, you’ll have to start all over again to catch up on everything you forgot about.
Do it once, and do it right!
40. Trying to please your parents.
Whether you have great parents or not-so-great parents, it’s natural for all of us to want to be loved and appreciated by the people who brought us into this world.
A huge part of why I pursued a corporate 9-to-5 career through my university education and the first year after graduation was because it was what my parents (and all of society, pretty much) expected of me.
Even now, my mom has a hard time wrapping her head around the freelancer lifestyle that I’ve chosen and nags me from time to time about how it would be so much better to have a “steady paying” job with healthcare benefits and actual people to be around.
Most parents only want what’s best for their kids, and it’s important to remember that — but it’s just as important to remember that once you hit adulthood, only you can do the really deep, personal work to figure out what’s truly best for you.
Don’t go out of your way to try and do something you don’t believe in or become something you don’t care for just to try and make your parents love you more.
41. Sacrificing nutrition for taste and convenience.
I know what you’re thinking…
Does this really belong on this list?
I’ll argue that it certainly does belong on this list for the very reason that when you opt for fast food or something from the vending machine at work, you risk giving yourself a blood sugar spike from all the refined carbs and sugar these foods contain.
In my case, when I make poor food choices, I pay for it later with sluggishness, brain fog, and yes — digestive problems.
You don’t even need to sacrifice taste and convenience when you learn how to simply make healthier choices the right way.
Read through my 10 food hacks to curb bad cravings for some good ideas.
42. Creating an impossible to-do list.
To-do lists have a weird place in productivity, and you really have to be willing to forget everything you know about the typical to-do list creation process if you’re willing to make it work for you.
I’ve read that some of the most successful people don’t even use to-do lists because they believe that they hurt productivity.
Instead, they just use their calendars marked with events and deadlines.
Since I have a lot to say about using to-do lists, I plan on writing a separate blog post on this topic, but for now, I’ll get to the most important points about them:
First of all, let me emphasize that you can’t jam everything you can think of into your list, because you’ll never get them all done and it will only make you feel like a failure at the end of the day, which is not what we want — we want you to feel satisfied with what you accomplished.
Instead, add just 3 to 5 things to your list that absolutely MUST get done for the day.
Everything else can wait, and you can always add extra list items later on in the day if you have time after completing everything else.
Also remember to be mindful of time when creating your list by estimating how long each task will take you to complete.
I aim to complete a minimum of 12 pomodoros of deep work most weekdays, which often means I only end up with no more than 3 or 4 tasks on my list.
43. Spending too much time around negative people.
While this point may sound almost the same as point number 35, which was on cutting ties with lame friends, I want this point to be more of a reminder to properly manage the time you spend around those negative people that you CAN’T just cut out of your life.
People like bosses, coworkers, relatives, neighbours, etc.
If you suck up their negative energy, you’ll be too distracted by your emotions or you’ll be too mentally drained to do what you need to do.
We can’t always avoid every negative person from our lives, but what we can do is learn to expand our awareness when we’re around these people and work on setting boundaries to avoid letting their negativity get to us.
44. Using the internet mainly as a source of entertainment.
I talked about browsing and posting on social media earlier, and now it’s time to touch on the wider picture of it all.
I’m talking about all the Netflix shows you stream, the YouTube videos you watch, the BuzzFeed quizzes you take, and even the iTunes music you buy.
Let’s face it — the internet truly is a bored person’s happy circus of endless fun, and while there can be a fine line between using something online for entertainment or for productive value, the truth is that most of us have developed bad habits that are costing us a lot of time.
In my case, I subscribe to some great YouTube channels that educate viewers about personal development, but I also racked up a bunch of subscriptions to several clickbait garbage entertainers who’d do anything to get their AdSense revenues up.
It’s important to get honest with yourself about your internet habits so you can eliminate or super duper cut back on any useless entertainment stuff that only serves to be a cheap waste of time.
45. Oversleeping on the weekends.
It’s really sad how some people treat their lack of sleep as a badge of honour, as if it makes them more hard working and better than everyone else.
I hate to break it to you, but consistent sleep deprivation coupled with trying to catch up on all that lost sleep on the weekend might actually shorten your lifespan.
So in other words, your terrible sleep habits literally rob you of time not just by wasting it, but by actually increasing your risk of dying sooner rather than later.
There are four main things that I believe create the foundation of mental, physical and emotional health:
Diet, exercise, stress management, and sleep.
You need this foundation to be solid to perform at your best.
Go to bed at the same time each night, wake up at the same time each morning, and make sure you’re getting 7 to 8 hours of quality rest in between.
46. Getting angry when things don’t go your way.
People who are easily frustrated and angered by things that don’t go their way are often control freaks (see point number 33) with victim mindsets.
Obviously as humans, we’re very emotional creatures, so of course it’s natural to have instant and sometimes very dramatic emotional responses when things go wrong.
And that’s okay.
What’s not okay is when you let it snowball into stronger thoughts and feelings of rage and despair.
Letting negative emotions completely consume you takes a lot of energy, making it almost impossible to focus on or do anything else.
That’s why awareness is so important.
The higher your awareness is, the more you’re able to recognize that the emotions you’re experiencing are just a reactive state of mind that needs to be accepted without judgment, embraced, and finally released when the time is right.
We all tend to get a little angry when things don’t go our way, but learning to observe and embrace those emotions the right way as soon as they appear is the key to saving yourself from sinking deeper into them.
47. Waiting for “the right mood” to set in before you start doing something.
We’re all guilt of this one, aren’t we?
We won’t start the thing today, because maybe tomorrow the right feeling will finally hit us.
The reality is that the time will never be right, and you’re never really going to be in the mood to start.
Stop thinking so much and just start doing something.
Motivation comes with momentum, and the more you recognize this, the easier it will be to start something.
48. Throwing in the towel when your motivation dips.
As much as we’d like to expect our motivation to sustain us for days and weeks and months on end, that’s far from what happens in reality.
Motivation is a huge topic, and you should definitely read one of my previous blog posts about why you struggle to stay motivated to gain a better understanding of why we feel unstoppable some days and nearly defeated on other days.
We generate our motivation by taking action and developing momentum, but the longer we keep at it, the more it depletes our motivational juice.
Mistaking depleted motivation for weakness and giving up as a result is one major way to waste a whole ton of time.
Work on understanding that motivation will have its highs and lows — and that it’s your job to manage it in the most effective way possible.
That means engaging in activities that build up your motivation when you need it and shifting to periods of rest and recovery when you notice your motivation dropping significantly.
49. Beating yourself up for mistakes you’ve made.
Too many of us have inner voices that talk negatively to us when we screw up.
We call ourselves names, ask ourselves how we could be so stupid, and shame ourselves into thinking we’ll never be successful.
And for what?
This type of behaviour isn’t an effective motivation technique, and it certainly isn’t productive.
In fact, it’s totally counterproductive, and it’s a surefire way to convince yourself to quit.
A shift needs to happen here where you develop enough self-compassion in order to move toward accepting your mistakes and forgiving yourself.
This is the only way to put a stop to the effects of that nasty negative inner voice of yours.
You wouldn’t talk to a friend or relative that way, so why would you talk to yourself like that?
50. Treating time like it’s a renewable resource.
I saved the big one for last.
In today’s modern day and age, we’ve been conditioned to always look forward tomorrow.
And that’s totally optimistic and there’s nothing wrong with that, right?
There’s always tomorrow to finally start chasing your dreams, right?
We’re so blinded by the notion of an infinitely forthcoming tomorrow that we don’t even realize our own lives slipping away.
We treat time as if we have an unlimited number of tomorrows, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
We all know this on some level, but we don’t choose to be conscious of it.
I’m turning 30 this year, and if I’m lucky enough to live until I’m 90, that means I’m already a third of the way through my life.
Anyone else reading this may be halfway or more through their own life.
But because the general trend is to feel scared and depressed about death, we choose to ignore it and even go into denial about aging as the years continue to go by.
I can tell you right now that one of the most important things you can learn to do is remind yourself of your own mortality on a daily basis in a way that’s beautiful and accepting — not frightening.
“Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past even while we attempt to define it, and, like the flash of lightning, at once exists and expires.” — Charles Caleb Colton
I would never expect anyone to take all fifty things on this list and stop doing them all at once.
I just wanted to write up something as extensive as this 7,000-word post to really hone in on what’s really stealing precious time away from millions of people around the world today on a regular basis and keeping them from moving toward the things they really know they need and want to do — myself included.
Start with eliminating one or two things suggested here and see how that goes.
Don’t just try to “manage” your time — prioritize the things you value the most and then either drop, delegate, or defer everything else.
When you’re 90 years old, you’ll be able to look back on it all and be glad that you did it.
Photo via Banalities
- 30 glorious snippets of wisdom worth knowing by the time you’re 30 (or any age, really) - December 31, 2016
- The divided self: Why we care way too much about what other people think - August 14, 2016
- What everyone gets wrong about “being authentic” - July 3, 2016
- 7 eye-opening ways to forget about your goals so you can let happiness flow - June 20, 2016
- Why you won’t do all the things you want to do this summer - June 13, 2016
- 50 everyday things you can give up to make time for more important stuff - April 30, 2016
- How to go from waking up miserable to exhilarated every morning - April 18, 2016
- How to align your mind to get exactly what you want - April 3, 2016
- Why we’re so bad at sticking to good habits (and what to do about it) - March 19, 2016
- 6 useful tips for dealing with an all-around bad day - June 30, 2015