Too Much Time on Trivia

Spending a little time doing research on this, I wanted to find out what the top time wasters we use are.  While opinions vary there are some items that popped up on pretty much everyone’s list and you probably know which ones.  That said, let’s look at some of the top daily time wasters and how much time they take.

    Is it any surprise that this shows up on the list?  For many people, their world revolves around Facebook and similar social networks.  On a Marketing Charts website article, they report that Americans 18-64 spend an average of 2-3.5 hours per day on social networks.  The number slides higher depending on age group and other demographics.  Interestingly, business owners spend more time on social networks than non-business owners.  In many workplaces, they thought that they had managed this problem early on by blocking social networks.  That worked until people got smartphones with Facebook apps.  Let’s call it 3.5 hours a day.
  2. EMAIL
    time wasters like television destroy productivityAgain, no big surprise.  What do most people do first thing when they get to work or boot up their computer?  Check their email. We check it again an hour later.  And then again an hour after that.  And again.  And again. Many even check it just before they call it a day.  It becomes really time-consuming when we receive mailings from a variety of sources with people who want some of our time and/or money.  We gotta filter through all that and then read the “urgent” stuff.  Another 3 hours per day.
  3. TELEVISIONReally?!  But it is so educational! (yes, that was sarcasm)  Many will tell you that you should find an alternative, like the wonderful recording features on many systems today.  But that just means you will watch it later.  Either way you are wasting time.  Not too long ago our TV went out and was out for a couple of weeks.  We found other things to do.  Most peaceful two weeks in a long time.  Still wondering why I fixed it.  Average of 5 hours per day.

Wow!  Let’s stop there.  Just in those three items we have 11.5 hours of time spent out of our day.  All those things are useful but none of them are critical; if we spend any more than an hour total on any of them we are wasting time.  And this does not take into account the time we spend on other things like instant messaging or texting, pointless meetings, various interruptions during the day, generally surfing the web, and procrastinating.  But there is one that I think is the most critical, first because I think it is the source of most of the others and second because of the effect it has on us overall.  And that time waster is multi-tasking.  We will talk about that on Friday.

Get Time Back

Knowledge is great, but action is better.  How can we manage this a little better?

  1. If Facebook is not part of your work, then you should invoke a no social networking rule during the work day.  Chances are your company does not permit it and even doing it on your smartphone during business hours violates company policy.  Besides that, it’s just not right.  If you simply must, check it during lunch elsewhere.
    If Facebook IS a part of your work, as it is for many small businesses and entrepreneurs, then block time out for it on the schedule in both the morning and afternoon, each one with a 30-minute limit.
  2. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, check your email first thing in the morning.  Save it until mid-morning after you have had the opportunity to eat a few frogs.  Create a tagging system for marking emails.  When you view your inbox, scan the messages and quickly and use your tagging system to mark them as urgent, critical, important, or not important.  Urgent emails you respond to immediately, critical emails within a few hours, important emails by the end of the day, and not important emails either get filed or deleted.  That allows you to get through it within 30 minutes each time, likely even less.  Another thing: nothing stays in the inbox.  Act on it, file it, or delete it.
  3. This one is easy.  Make TV time earned.  Works for children, it will work for you.  Half-hour segments of TV time is earned by meeting objectives or goals.  Or do it by program if you wish.  Either way, the idea is that you don’t watch TV unless you have earned it by accomplishment.  Better yet, just keep it off and find something else to entertain you.  Delegate the time to personal growth.  Read a book or watch a webinar.  Remember the caveat

Really successful people have large libraries and small televisions.

No matter whether you work for a large or small company, are a business owner, network marketer, run a charity, or manage a household; getting things done is a matter of managing the things that can waste your time.  Knowing what they are and developing systems to handle them in definitive periods of time will go a long way towards making your day more productive and helping you find time for things you enjoy.

Action Plan

  1. Buy a journal or notebook and document your time from the moment you wake up until you go to bed.  Do this for at least three days but preferably a week.  Include everything, no matter how insignificant it might seem.  What you want is a good idea of how you are spending ALL your time.
  2. Total up the time you spend per day on non-critical things like the activities above.  Remember, social networking is not essential unless you use it to market yourself or your business IS social networking.
  3. Create time limits and block out time on the schedule for those activities.  Make sure that the beginning of the day is spent doing critical activities for the day, especially the ones you don’t really want to do or procrastinate on (eating the bullfrogs).
  4. Follow the new schedule for 3-5 days and again document your activities.  How much free time did you discover?  Were you more productive and effective?