How to Waste Time Well
(and Less)

Everyone knows how to waste time. It’s human nature to be unproductive sometimes.

The trick, as with all time management issues, is to waste time well. Increase awareness about how much you waste, then impose some control over it.

This doesn’t have to be as hard as you think.

But before we get to that…

How do you know you’ve wasted time well?

Well, there are a couple of pointers...

  • It doesn’t stop you from doing all the things you have committed yourself to getting done today.
  • You don’t necessarily feel better for having done it, but you do feel better because you limited it compared to the amount of time you wasted previously.

At best, wasting time contributes nothing to your goals or your health. At worst, it moves you further from them both, making you feel bad that you wasted your most precious resource.

So, as it's going to happen anyway, here are 7 tips to help you to waste time well:

1. Be human

Everybody does it to a degree, so give yourself permission to waste time. It’s okay -- don’t beat yourself up about it; accept that you’ll probably waste some time every single day.

This can be an on the spot decision you make, or a realization that you've just wasted your time.

2. Define limits

This is the one that most people struggle with when it comes to wasting time. Accept you’ll waste some time, then impose a limit on how much you do it.

3. Consider the consequences whilst you’re wasting time

Who, or what, is not getting your attention when you do something irrelevant, inappropriate or unimportant? Your health? Family? Friends? Long term goals where the rewards are big but come later?

Make sure you know the price before you pay it.

4. Tool up

Whether it’s a pen and paper, book or phone, make sure you’ve got something to do during dead time. Particularly important for appointments and travel connections.

5. Do it when you can afford to lose it

The best way to do this? For any given block of time estimate how much of it you’ll need to give to the move on with the roles, goals, projects and tasks you’re currently working on. What’s left over is yours to use how you choose.

6. Time log your day

Keep a time management log for a day to see how, when and why you waste time.

7. Don’t look back in anger when you get it wrong

Instead, learn from it. What triggered the journey down the path of pointlessness? What happens if, in the moment of choice, you decide to do something more worthwhile?

* * *

It’s important to accept that you, like everyone, will waste time. It’s just as crucial to remember that you choose to do it as much or as little as you like.

Apply these tips to make sure you accept it and manage it, and you’ll know how to waste time well.

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