The Top 10 Time Wasters

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There are many time wasters that will really eat into your time if you allow them to. To free up your time you need to identify those time wasters, decide what you want to do about them and then take action. I've identified what I've seen to be the 10 most common time wasters. Just consider in what way these are relevant to you, rather than just assume they're not. This will open you up to seeing how you can make improvements in the use of your time. For each item, I suggest you ask yourself the question, "In what way does this waste my time?" For now, just see it as it is. Later on, you can identify any action you're going to take.

1. Not enough time-off or time for yourself. You need to step back, evaluate and re-energise yourself in order to be effective. Many people 'try' to do more and more thinking they're using their time better. But in actual fact, this can often result in being less productive and not working on what's most important. You waste time when you keep doing, doing, doing, without enough time for just being and listening to your inner wisdom. Without enough time-off or time for yourself, your health may suffer and eventually you'll reach a crisis point where you're forced to take even more time off.

2. Lack of planning, prioritising and focus. Without these, you'll find yourself drifting and working in a scattered and disjointed way, and not spending time on what's most important to you. You'll end up working on activities that aren't moving you towards your vision and if this is so, it's not an effective way to spend your time. You'll feel directionless and your productivity will drop. When you're not fully focused in the moment, you inhibit the momentum required to be effective and to get things done faster and more easily.

3. Procrastination. Putting things off wastes not only your time but also your energy and thoughts. When you procrastinate, much time is spent thinking and worrying about the things you need to do. You give yourself a hard time for not doing them and therefore you're unable to spend your time effectively, especially when crunch time arrives and what you've been procrastinating over finally has to be done. If you see yourself as someone who procrastinates, you'll remain in that endless cycle.

4. Interruptions. This may be the telephone, people dropping into your office, unanticipated events or visitors, anything that stops what you're doing. Interruptions prevent you from being focused; they pull you away from important things at that moment. Time is wasted when you allow different areas of your life to overlap into each other. Focus and time are lost when you allow your work and personal life to interrupt each other. The same goes for the different things you're working on. Keep them separate and don't allow them to interfere with each other. Focus on each specific thing at a time.

5. Lack of delegation. It's a real waste of your time to think 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 only on what you're really good at, your gifts, strengths and ability. 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 a time waster if there isn't a specific reason, agenda and timeframe for holding them. It's too easy to fall into the habit of holding meetings without realising that some of that time could be spent more effectively. A small amount of time clarifying the need and reason for the meeting could save a lot of time in the long run.

7. Crisis management, fire fighting. When you're running around like a headless chicken, too much time is wasted through a lack of effectiveness. You're not focused and working on what's important. There are too many urgent items getting in the way. Because you're in such a hurry, things are not done well and often come back to bite you, wasting more time when you need to redo it.

8. Telephone, email and Internet. These can also be interruptions and as with meetings, it's easy to spend quite a bit of time on the telephone or internet without any real reason or intention. Time is wasted when you don't make the best use of the time, when you're unclear about what you want to get out of what you're doing and when you stray off the point and drift. It's so easy to justify to yourself that you're working hard when in fact what you're doing may serve no useful or effective purpose at all. It may be just a distraction.

9. Not saying 'No'. Taking on too much puts pressure on you and prevents you from working at your best. Not working at your best and most effective means everything takes longer and more of your time is stolen from you. You don't value your time and you don't decide how you want to spend it and therefore, you allow others to make that choice for you. You're not going to spend your time effectively if you allow others to ask too much of you.

10. Lack of organisation and untidiness. Clutter zaps your energy and not only leaves you less able to work effectively, but wastes time as you try to sort through it. You may find yourself looking through the same clutter time and again. Clutter can be a distraction for you and anything that distracts doesn't allow for effective use of your time. When you lack organisation, much time can be spent doing the same thing repeatedly or because there aren't the necessary systems or processes in place. Not simplifying robs you of your time.

Now you have more clarity about the time wasters in your life, you are free to make a choice about what, if anything, you want to do about them. Action is required for things to change if you want to eliminate the time wasters you've identified today. I say today because this is a process and I encourage you to continue with the process to see if there are any more or new time wasters. To be truly effective in the use of your time you need to introduce a continual process of improvement. Take a look at how your time is wasted, pick one specific thing and then define the specific action you're going to take today to plug the hole in your wasted time.

About the Author:

Copyright 2003, Wendy Hearn. All rights reserved Wendy Hearn
She 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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