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Monday, March 7, 2011

6 Essential Time-Traps: Guaranteed to Waste Your Life

Last Monday, I explained one of the most effective tools I use to manage my time. Today, I want to cover six time-traps that are not necessarily evil, but may not end up being the best use of your time. Especially if the majority of your day is spent participating in them. As I cover each one of these, please remember I struggle with the same issues! I do not want you to think I am in any way the perfect example of a wise time-manager, because I am certainly not. I only mention the following because I often find myself being lured into their traps as well.

1. The Internet (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and "Research" - aka web surfing)
This is a huge one for me. I will get home from work, sit in front of the computer, and sometimes find myself lost for the next two or three hours! It's amazing how fast the time seems to fly (or be wasted) as I catch up on all the "goings on" in the virtual universe.

 I follow quite a few blogs, so reading all the latest posts usually takes up most of my time. Then there's Facebook and Twitter, where I regularly check my feeds and updates on my mobile. Last in line is my web surfing research, where I catch up on the latest news and topics, within or outside my blog niche. I want to be well informed when I sit down to write my own articles and blog posts, so I find it necessary to closely follow current events and trends.

I can honestly say the majority of my time is spent on the internet, and though I still need to write blog posts and communicate with readers and the blogging community, I can still find some way to whittle down the time I actually waste on the computer.
  • You do not need to read every new blog post that comes around (except mine of course - just kidding.) :) Pick and choose the topics that interest you. 
  • You do not have to check your Facebook or Twitter 20+ times a day. Do you really have to find out what's going on? I guarantee you probably won't miss much of anything important! Try setting a limit on how many times you will sign in to your computer or smart phone to do this.
  • Next time you are blindly surfing the web, ask yourself if you are accomplishing anything productive. I understand that we sometimes need an "out" of the daily routine, so if you want to spend your free-time doing this, then that is completely ok. Just set a time limit for yourself.
Everyone hate me now?

2. Reading books that are boooorrring.
Maybe you don't have this problem, but if I start a book, I really really really want to finish it. And not just because I enjoy it! I often feel like I am leaving the book hanging and incomplete. Weird, I know, but my personality likes everything to be in a tidy little box and life is not normally like that.

With that being said, I have finally given myself the freedom to not finish a book if I am still bored to tears after the fifth chapter. What a relief and time-saver!

3. Doing things twice.
Whether it be through cleaning, picking up, or redoing a project, I know that if I would just do it right the first time, I wouldn't have to do it again. I think I'm saving time by throwing my clothes on the bed to be sorted through later, but in reality, later makes way for something else more important and the clothes begin piling up. That's just one example. I am sure you can come up with some others in your own homes.

4. Not being prepared.
A little preparation can go a long way. Think meal planning. How often have you wondered "What am I going to feed my family for dinner tonight?" By creating a meal plan, you are not only shaving off most of the guesswork, you already have the right ingredients on hand from your last shopping trip. No last minute grocery runs and no scrambling around for a frozen dinner. (Which are sometimes necessary, by the way. Life does happen, even when you plan!)

Another idea is to walk around your home and do a quick sweep before bed. Are there blankets out that need folding? Clothes to be put away? Dishes to wash from dinner? If we are always prepping ourselves for the next day, you are less likely to have a huge mess to to clean up by the end of the week. Trust me, this does save time!

5. The tube.
Don't worry, I am not going to give up my "Good Wife" or "Lie to Me" episodes, and I'm not going to encourage you to either. Just limit your television viewing to the shows that are most interesting to you. It's ok to "vedge" every once in a while, but be careful not to waste the rest of your life watching reruns.

One of the reasons I love my DVR is because I don't have to worry about catching my shows at a specific time. I can record them and watch them later. This not only cuts out commercial time (because I can fast-forward), it also gives me the control over when I watch TV.

6. Multitasking.
A lot of people, including me, would call themselves "efficient multitaskers". But I am going to break some bad news to you: Most of the time, multitasking will actually prolong your to-do list because you are trying to focus on too many things at once. The result: you often end up getting nothing accomplished. Get Rich Slowly has an article/book review about this myth. Although I have not read the book yet, the concept is intriguing to me.

On the flip side, I personally think multitasking can work, if done in certain situations. Take a book with you to the doctor's office and read while you sit in the waiting room. Memorize your verses while standing in the checkout lane at your local store. What a great way to use some of that "waiting" time!

The last thought I want to leave you with....
"It is not a sin to spend your time surfing the internet, watching TV at night, etc."

I do all of these things at one time or another. You sometimes have "those days" where all you want and need is to hang out on the couch and let your brain relax. What I want to accomplish with this post is to make you more aware of each of these activities. If you are not careful, they will start whittling away at your valuable time.


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