What are some time wasters we can eliminate to make more time for the things that matter most?
Time wasters and accomplishing what matters
As I get older, I realize I have fewer years ahead of me than I have behind me, so the topic of wasted time has been on my mind lately.
What does it mean to waste time? The dictionary says: “to allow time to elapse in an unproductive manner”
What “an unproductive manner” means is very personal. What’s wasting time for one person might be very productive for another.
I love how Laura Vanderkam (TPW217) talks about this:
“Open time isn’t wasted time. Sometimes white space is where the best ideas take root. Watching TV and surfing the web are often low-value activities, but they’re not automatically wasted time. These things sometimes bring pleasure, and pleasure is a good in its own right. So what is wasted time? I’ve come to like this definition: Time is wasted when it’s neither enjoyed, nor spent in pursuit of some larger life goal.”
How to Figure Out What is Really a Waste of Time
Since we define productivity as ordering our lives in such a manner as to maximize our positive impact on the world around us, we can look at time wasters in that light. What are the things you do that allow time to elapse without contributing to your ability to make a positive impact?
Here are a few that came to mind for me:
1. Unnecessary meetings
Too many meetings, or poorly run meetings in which information is conveyed that could have been put in a memo or an email, or could have been handled with a phone call.
* Every meeting should have a purpose - probably not to convey information; it should be to make a decision
* Every meeting should take only as long as is necessary to achieve that purpose
* Only those people whose input is necessary should be at the meeting
* Every meeting should end with a specific action item
* If you’re looking for ideas on how to make meetings less wasteful, check out articles from the Harvard Business Review (Stop the Meeting Madness) and Inc.com (Why 99 Percent of All Meetings are a Complete Waste of Money) for more ideas.
2. Pointless tasks
* Things that don’t need to be done - Don’t do them or rethink how often you do them. If the things you’re doing are not in some way contributing to a life that matters as you define it, then evaluate them carefully.
* Things that you’re doing to avoid something more important and more challenging
* Things that others can do - Learn to say no (TPW008) and/or delegate (TPW175)
We’ve talked about this time waster many times. Clutter of any kind (physical, digital, mental, emotional) results in time wasted.
Listen to previous episodes on this topic:
* Ep 14 - Conquering Clutter
* a href="https://theproductivewoman.