40 Things That WASTE Your Time

holistic spaces Nov 08, 2023
40 Things That WASTE Your Time

Are you tired of wasting your time?

Time is our most valuable asset. 

We all want more of it, but often feel like there isn’t enough to do everything that needs doing in a day. 

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably asked yourself, “how do I waste SO much time?”

Luckily, there are some things you can stop doing right now that will save you time for important tasks; freeing up more hours throughout the week so you always feel accomplished at work and home – you’ll be impressed by how much gets done!

So with that in mind, I’m sharing 40 things that might be stealing your time–so you can save time. 

#1. Oversleeping

Coming from someone who values getting a total of 8-9 hours of sleep (and someone who is pro naps)-

Oversleeping is a colossal time-waster.

It’s not always the actions themselves that are bad or detracting from your time; it’s letting them get out of control. You need balance, It’s impossible to save time if you constantly oversleep!

#2. Undersleeping

When we undersleep, we get mental fog– which naturally makes all of our projects slower and drags things out. In addition, taking extra time to complete tasks adds up throughout the day and is a waste of time.

Not allowing your body to recuperate/ regenerate results in your body working less efficiently. The only way to fix this and not waste your time is through adequate sleep.

#3. Addiction

Although a deep subject, It’s important to mention because it’s prevalent everywhere.

Whether you’re draining all of your time away on electronics or drinking/smoking/drugs, addiction will eat a lot of your time.

It may not be easy, but being aware of and overcoming addiction will make a noticeable difference in your everyday life, free time included.

#4. Excessive Worrying

Worrying is such a passive thing. I’m not saying you should never be worried or concerned about something, but your natural default response shouldn’t be obsessively worrying–it’s just a substantial waste of time. 

Obsessing and worrying about random things accomplishes nothing (other than possibly annoying the people you’re excessively worried about). 

Try not to panic– take things as they come rather than assuming the worst.

#5. Nosiness 

Whether you’re wasting time peeking through the blinds at the neighbors to see what they’re doing or actively gossiping, nosiness is a complete waste of time.

Investing hours of research into people and trying to see what’s going on in their lives is not necessary.

Instead, focus on something more productive and life-enhancing for yourself!

#6. Being Underprepared

Waking up without a to-do list or calendar results in accomplishing very little. 

Our decision-making is severely affected when we’re put on the spot. Therefore, preparing for a task can be just as important as the task at hand. 

For example, a surgeon takes hours prepping for surgery, making sure what is required to perform the surgery is readily available. Could you imagine performing surgery without this prep? It would be chaos!

Being prepared is the best way to make the most of your time

#7. Overplanning

Overplanning happens when you get caught up in specific details and focus on them beyond what’s needed. 

Doing this will distract your attention and energy from the bigger picture and other tasks you should be working on. Over-planning can be a major form of procrastination.

Save time by sticking to the point, and don’t get caught up in all the small details! Revisit them if you choose to once your task is complete. Until then, don’t let them distract you.

#8. Poorly Functioning Equipment

From the car stalling every time it stops to the pen, you have to scribble 100 times for the ink to come out (and everything in between)-

These items end up being a huge waste of time. 

I know it may not be desirable to invest in something newer (you want to make things last as long as possible), but pushing something far beyond its effectiveness will result in wasting more time. 

Time is valuable, so if something isn’t working efficiently, consider replacing it! 

#9. Not Having A Grocery List

You just got to the grocery store, and you’re hunting down all the ingredients for a new recipe you intend to make. The problem is that you forget what they are–and can’t find the recipe.

You end up spending a lot of time scrolling through your phone to find the recipe and figure out the ingredients–imagine if you’d just written them down before you left!

Lists can be handy. They allow you to know exactly what you need, rather than showing up at a grocery store with no direction–mindlessly staring at the aisles.

#10. Lacking Systems

This includes not having a system and having systems that aren’t enforced.

Systems are like engines; they allow things to keep running smoothly. By incorporating a plan, everyone becomes aware of the following:

  1. What their tasks are
  2. What is expected of them
  3. What to do in any given situation

If you want more examples of what systems I use in my household, check out my blog on 15 systems that have simplified my life

#11. Clutter

This is one of my main focuses because it is a huge time waste. 

Clutter consumes a lot of time for four reasons:

1) Having to dig around

2) Losing things

3) Shuffling items around to use the space

4) Detouring around all the clutter

It removes time from the things you need to maintain daily–like extra laundry and dishes.

(click here to read about the First 15 Things I Decluttered As A Minimalist)

#12. Perfectionism 

Having a touch of perfectionism isn’t terrible–it has good qualities and many people can accomplish a lot due to their slightly perfectionistic personalities.

However, perfectionism can be a form of procrastination, and it can delay any task or project’s progress. It can also result in wasting a lot of time worrying if what you’re doing is “good enough”.

Try and find a healthy balance–it’s okay to care, just not too much!

#13. Procrastination

 Procrastination comes in many forms:  perfectionism, boredom, dread…

Often, it occurs because there’s something you’re not looking forward to doing. 

The truth is, you’re probably still going to have to do “the thing” anyway–therefore, the act of procrastinating is not going to save time. 

#14. Minutiae

I personally love swimming in minutiae and I see real artistry in looking at details and fine-tuning things. 

But getting too invested and using tunnel vision can waste tons of time. Being over-invested keeps you from looking at the project as a whole.

It’s important to make high-level decisions about how you’re spending time and investing resources.

#15. Over-Organizing

Over-organizing can make you focus on all the little details rather than being intentional with your actions. 

For example, obsessing over which color-coded tabs you’ll pick for your workspace rather than just grabbing a set and carrying on.

Creating and maintaining an over-organized space can be a huge time suck. 

All things are good in balance, right? 

#16. Under Organizing

If you don’t know where things go and don’t have a clear idea of their functionality, it’s probably too disorganized…not a good start if you want to save time.

Without organization, you’ll invest more time locating, planning, and figuring out what’s going on and where things are.

Having some level of organization is required to be efficient in any space.

#17. Figuring Things Out

It can be fun to dig into things–learning and finding areas to grow can be excellent. 

Taking time to figure something out on your own makes the information stick much better, but there are easier ways to learn and be efficient with your resources. 

Say you’re trying to learn computer coding–rather than looking up each piece of code on the internet, taking a class or lesson in computer coding would save you a lot of time and be much more efficient. 

If you want to save time, It’s essential to effectively use the resources we have at our disposal instead of willy-nilly researching and falling into irrelevant rabbit holes.

Figuring things out can be an act that wastes a lot of time if you’re not doing it correctly. 

#18. Multitasking

It’s been proven that we’re incapable of multitasking multiple things simultaneously and it isn’t going to save time. 

Instead, our brains jump back and forth from one task to another, known as context switching. 

Research has shown this to exponentially decrease our efficiency with each other thing we’re trying to multitask, increasing the amount of time wasted.

So, if you’re going to save time, Try setting aside specific times for each task to avoid juggling them all at once. It’ll take less time if it’s done right in the first place.

#19. Waiting

There are some things in life that we have to wait on. The only time that multitasking is a good idea, is when your other task requires pure, unadulterated waiting. 

For example, when you call a government office and you’re expected to be on hold for 45 minutes-2 hours, that would be an excellent opportunity to do another task and use your time more efficiently. This way, you’re not wasting time staring at the wall and singing to hold music. 

Waiting can be an opportunity to accomplish something you previously may not have had time to do. Use that time to your advantage–you’ll feel extra accomplished!

#20. Relationships (Certain Ones)

If you don’t know what relationships I’m referring to, it’s typically the toxic ones.

Toxic people kill your ability to save time; they tend to absorb a lot of your time and energy.

Even if the person isn’t toxic, having to over-invest and overextend your social capacity in relationships that hold little value can be a huge waste of your resources. 

Make sure the relationships you carry have healthy boundaries and don’t become a drain.

#21. Mental Fog 

You can’t always control mental fog. However, If you’re not optimized mentally, it slows down all the other processes. 

This can be biologically based or even medically based. In that case, there’s not a whole lot you can do. If you’re faced with this situation, some things you can try are:

  • Eating the right foods
  • Not skipping meals
  • Not oversleeping/undersleeping (as mentioned earlier)

All these elements aid with mental clarity, so apply them as much as possible!

#22. Not Evaluating/Auditing 

Data can help you be more efficient and give you more information on how to properly invest your time and energy. 

If you’re not evaluating how much time things are taking (and what is worth your time,) you may find yourself utilizing time and resources in areas that don’t serve you best.

Write a list of your goals and make sure your actions line up with where you’re trying to go!

#23. News

I’ve fallen into the news trap before.

My advice? 

  1. Get the news you need
  2. Get in
  3. Get out 

News stations are designed to keep you watching and intentionally say things to pull you in–a lot of it is just filler and repetitive content, so if you want to save time…don’t waste too much time watching it.

#24. Checking Email

It’s best if you dedicate 1-2 times in your day to checking emails instead of trying to respond to them as they come in. Doing so can cause many distractions and loss of focus, and won’t let you save time. 

#25. Phone Calls

Although some may disagree, phone calls can be a huge damper if you want to save time. 

It’s still important to cultivate relationships and invest time into those that matter, but some things can be translated faster (text, email, etc.).

When trying to save time, it’s best not to get caught up in excessive filler conversation or waiting on the phone–it can happen quite quickly.

Try leaving your phone in the other room, put it on do not disturb, and respond to text messages only as needed. 

#26. People Pleasing

If you spend all of your time trying to make others happy without fail then you, my friend, are people-pleasing. 

Although disappointing people isn’t fun, making them happy without fail isn’t possible. Attempting to do so will only disappoint you because it’s not sustainable.

People always need something more to make them happy, and you’ll spend forever trying to accomplish it.

It’s okay to want to take care of others but if you want to save time, you need to take care of yourself too.

#27. Checking Your Phone

This ties into what was mentioned earlier about technology addiction. It’s easy to get distracted by something you never intended to look at and start scrolling once you pull your phone out.

Turning off notifications or setting a time on them will help you save time, so you’re not constantly being drawn to look at your phone.

#28. Mindless TV Watching 

No explanation is required on this one. In a culture full of “binge-watching Netflix,” we all know what this means…and it wastes a lot of time.

#29. Shopping 

Yes, it takes a lot of time. 

Shopping can be fun and a great way to procrastinate from our daily responsibilities, but in the end, it’s eating away at your day and won’t let you save time.

A great way to save time is to create a list of all the items you need and grab them all in one trip, rather than running out every time you need to grab something.

#30. Overextending

This ties into a lot of the things that we’ve spoken about previously (multitasking, people-pleasing, under planning).

All of these things can lead to and be the result of overextending yourself.

When you over-pack your calendar, you have less energy, efficiency, and time to dedicate to any given thing. 

Overextending can cause your efficiency to drop, and you won’t be able to save time for things that matter– such as your to-do list or the fun activity you wish you could do (like reading a chapter of your book).

It’s okay to be busy if that’s your preference, but leave some empty spaces in your calendar (you never know what may arise).

#31. Interruptions

This one is a bit more obvious, but interruptions stunt your progress. 

It takes time to get back into your flow once you’ve stopped; therefore, constant interruptions make tasks drag on much longer. 

It’s been proven that the average person only gets 45 minutes of work done in a 2-hour work window due to interruptions.

It may be difficult (especially if you have kids at home) but if you want to save time, eliminate as many distractions as possible.

#32. Tunnel Vision

When you’re hyper-focused on any given task, everything else gets fuzzy and falls into the background. 

Next thing you know, there’s no time for your other responsibilities or yourself.

If you’re not zooming out and getting a bird’s eye view of the project, you aren’t achieving that higher level of thinking. 

Ultimately, tunnel vision can suck a lot of your time and energy(and won’t save time.)

#33. Timelines

They say that tasks expand to fill the time we allot them. 

For example, If you are in a college course and it says that there’s a research paper due at the end of the semester…

You’re probably not going to get that research paper done in a week or two. Even though you could, you’re more likely to wait until the end of the semester.  

Being too generous with timelines does you a disservice. 

Allot yourself slightly less time than required; it’ll push you to work efficiently and meet the goal you set for yourself.

#34. Dread

Feeling uninspired and exhausted? Dread is one of the reasons we procrastinate in the first place. It creeps up on us when we are required to do something we don’t want to.

Dread will result in dragging your feet because your mindset is not on board with what you should be doing. 

It makes the process slower and leads us to do things we shouldn’t. It also adds extra pockets of wasted time into the task you’re trying to perform.

#35. Micromanaging

Whether it be your spouse, kids, or anybody for that matter…

When you ask someone to do something but micromanage the whole thing, it results in 2 people putting time into something that only requires one person.

If someone is willing to do something for you, take that time to accomplish something else.

#36. Shoddy Work

You’re going to waste 100% of your time doing something if you decide to take shortcuts or do it incorrectly.

In addition to that, going the super cheap route (fully knowing it won’t last) will use more time in the long run. 

Although it may take more time in the present, it will save time in the future if done correctly.

#37. Having Too Many Options

Too many options are also a byproduct of clutter. Having a million choices can get overwhelming and lead to decision paralysis. 

Too many choices will have you frozen between needing to decide and actually making the decision.

Have you ever taken hours to get dressed because you’re sifting through all your options? Assuming you only had a few choices, the process would be much quicker.

Keep your options to a minimum!

#38. Being Easily Offended

People who are easily offended invest a lot of time in their offense, which is one of the ways you waste your time. 

Pouting, getting upset/angry, and arguing occur when someone gets easily offended, and it becomes a habit of finding reasons to be offended.

Pouring tons of energy into negative feelings will only hold you back–if you want to save time, learn to let go and make room for better things!

#39. Victimhood Mentality 

Also known as the mindset of helplessness, saying you can’t do something because of X, Y, and Z  (despite others being able to do it) becomes a victimhood mentality.

People with this mentality tend to rant about why they can’t do something until someone else comes and does it for them.

Having this mindset can hold you back from many things, such as

  • Taking action
  • Being productive
  • Being efficient
  • Growing as an individual

Learn to overcome the obstacles holding you back and take matters into your own hands! It’ll save you from having to ask someone else in the future.

#40. Negative/Unhelpful Mindset

This refers to personality traits, habits, and a mindset that’s not on board with what you’re going to be doing– it adds an extra level of resistance.

Resistance slows things down and adds friction, right? 

If you’re talking about putting the patio furniture away, but you’re not mentally on board with it, you’re not optimized. As a result, the whole process takes longer, you’re sluggish, and it’s less pleasurable to follow through with that task. 

Getting your mindset on board is one of the first things I tell people when we talk about creating a holistic, clutter-free space (or just decluttering a drawer.)Things will be quicker, easier, and more pleasurable in the process!

So, are you guilty of wasting your time with these bad habits?

In closing, we all waste time (sometimes.). If we identify the things that are wasting our time, we can eliminate them from our lives and focus on what’s important. 

What changes will you make to use your time more effectively?


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