waste time by showing clock

8 Ways We Waste Time

We all waste time. There’s no use feeling guilty about it. We’re not robots, nor are we striving for a life of 100% productivity. Mindlessly vegging out can be a way to unwind, relax, and gear up for a new day. But….if you find yourself running out of time to do what you want or need to do, it’s worth taking a hard look at where you’re wasting time.

I like to differentiate between truly wasting time and just having down time. Wasting time is when we should be productive or we need to get things done, but little habits (that we may not even be aware of), get in the way. Then, our time isn’t our own. It slips through our fingers and we feel like we were running around but getting nothing done. Time is one thing we can’t get back. So, let’s be deliberate about it. Here are 8 ways we waste time. The more aware we are of these things, the more we can mindfully form new habits that serve us better.

1. Looking for things

We definitely have better ways to be spending our time than the frustrating searching for lost items. One way to decrease this is to find a home for everything, and put things away after we use them.

2. Procrastinating

Time wasters aren’t always physical activities. Sometimes, a loop of unhelpful thoughts or angst about doing a particular something is the culprit of wasting time. Just do the hard thing. Get it out of the way by doing it first thing!

3. Multi tasking

Wait, what? This is a necessity and, frankly, a badge of honor for us mamas, right? We’re awfully good at it and get a heck of a lot done! But, sometimes, we flit and float from this to that without finishing things. As tempting as it is to bounce around, certain activities benefit from more focused thought (reading, writing, creating, problem solving). If being surrounded by kiddos who need your attention makes this challenging, early morning or late night hours are often peaceful times for distraction free focus.

4. Watching TV

Is it always on in the background, grabbing our attention for a bit, pulling us away from what we’re doing? There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, and of course – no judgment. But, try to change it up by leaving it off for just a couple days and see if it makes a positive difference in your productivity.

5. Phone scrolling

scrolling phone wastes time

Time spent here sure adds up! Try switching up habits a little. Instead of reaching for your phone upon waking, wait until a certain time of the day to pick up your phone. Another trick is to set a timer and give yourself 10 min. to scroll, then be done with it. It’s not about total deprivation, but, instead, moderation – being present enough to be in the moment with whatever your day brings you….a child asking to play, work commitments that need to be handled, or some screen free quiet time.

6. Worrying

It’s unproductive, based in negativity, and makes it very difficult to focus on what’s important. At the end of the day, your situation hasn’t changed but you’ve lost valuable time rehearsing worst case scenarios. Often, we worry about things that are out of our control anyway!

Instead, you could talk to someone. Sometimes just verbalizing worries helps put them to rest. Or, just give yourself permission to worry for a set amount of time, then you’ll be able to let go and move on peacefully.

worrying wastes time

7. Trips to the grocery store

Really? We need to go to the grocery store again? For the 3rd time this week? Sometimes it’s unavoidable and things come up. But, often, making lists and planning out some meals will help in this area. Also, solicit input from your family prior to your main grocery trip so you can be sure to purchase the cleanser your daughter just ran out of, or the brownie mix your son was hoping to make with his friend the next day.

8. Not finishing what you started

Every time you put something down and pick it up later, there’s a ramp up time to get back into it. And it’s a waste of time! “What was I trying to say in that half written email?” you wonder. If you expect to be interrupted mid task, consider breaking the task into smaller chunks that have distinct starting and stopping points that makes sense. This will make it easier for you to pick up again later.