8 of The Biggest Waste of Your Valuable Time

Thomas Oppong


Photo by Morgan Housel on Unsplash

What has been your most productive day, week or month? Most of us spend greater percentage of our time doing things that directly does not add value to our lives. Among other things, internet/social media/email, trying to change things outside of your control, talking instead of doing, procrastination, worry, waiting on other people, dwelling in regrets, thinking about the past, worrying about future without planning and worrying about what others think of you could be wasting your precious time.

These are a few more things that are wasting your valuable time.

1. Berating yourself for not being perfect. Don’t be too hard on yourself.  There are plenty of people willing to do that for you.  Do your best and surrender the rest.  Tell yourself, “I am doing the best I can with what I have in this moment.  And that is all I can expect of anyone, including me.”  Love yourself and be proud of everything that you do, even your mistakes.  Because even mistakes mean you’re trying.

2. Waiting for tomorrow. Stop waiting for tomorrow; you will never get today back.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past.  It doesn’t matter how low or unworthy you feel right now.  The simple fact that you’re alive makes you worthy.  Life is too short for excuses.  Stop settling.  Stop procrastinating.  Start today by taking one courageous step forward.  If you are not sure exactly which way to go, it is always wise to follow your heart.

3. Attention deficit. This is one of the  biggest waste of time in an adult life. If you can focus on a task long enough you can do a great job. Period. Not able to focus your attention on a single task wastes your energy, makes you lose interest in the job at hand and let's you worry about the failure, making you less productive.

We have become information hungry that in the pursuit to grab more and more information we have lost the ability to dedicate time to process that information ultimately wasting all the time spent in acquiring that information. Stop craving for more information and focus on your task at hand.

4. Losing sight of goals. The shortest distance between A and B, in both time and space (in our everyday world) is a straight line. If we lose sight of our goals, or don't have well established ones, we meander and waste tremendous amounts of time. This absence of goals or loss of focus on them informs many of the other answers here.

5. Uncertainty. When you are  uncertain about what is the best project to spend time on next,  you normally spend a lot of time deciding what's the most important thing to move your personal goals forward; You end up creatively avoiding your big picture tasks and immediate tasks and distract yourself with social apps. Start planning your weeks and days better.

Map out what you need to tackle and when.  Create blocks for specific sections for what needs to be done in your life.  That  way, you will not not be reacting but you will keep following the plan.  Sometimes the plan changes.  That's okay.

6. Lack of preparation:  When you don't prepare, you are forced to react to things happening after the fact instead of handling them in stride... if that makes sense. A little time spent preparing saves you time later. Its all about putting things in place sort of like pawns on a chess board.

While life can throw curveballs at you and you have to do your best to learn how to deal with things. There is nothing you can do about that per se. At that point, you have to learn from your mistake as things that previously were in your blind spot are now 20/20 in hindsight.

7. Known and unknown distractions: Being distracted by things that are not part of your "life plan". Reason dictates that as individuals subject to the passage of time, we can accomplish just a few things in our short lives. Decide what good you can contribute and work towards accomplishing that. One can either do good, do bad, or do nothing. Deciding what path to take and spending as much time and effort on staying on that path is the most efficient use of our available time.

8. Striving for perfection. Not only actually taking way more time than what is needed to complete something thinking about what could be wrong or what's not perfect, this also includes time wasted not starting on a task because you are afraid that you can't do it perfectly. Think 80/20 (The law of the vital few: by the numbers it means that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs).

It really doesn’t matter what numbers you apply, the important thing to understand is that in your life there are certain activities you do (your 20 percent) that account for the majority (your 80 percent) of your happiness and outputs.

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I write on science-based answers to problems in life and career, mostly about business, productivity, and self-improvement. My goal is to help you master the best of what the experts, top performers, and behavioural scientists have already figured out.


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