Time is a valuable thing. We can waste it and use it, but never make more of it. It’s a valuable commodity that’s in limited supply. We can sometimes forget how valuable this finite resource is. Just like a running faucet can waste a ton of water, mindlessly wasting our time on habits we’ve formed can impede our productivity.
Have you ever looked up from your screen surprised at how much time has gone by without you having accomplished any of the tasks you set out to do? Or thinking that you have a lot of time to get ready, only to find yourself running late to meet a friend once again? Time can easily escape us. We have to be mindful of it and keep track of it like a dog on a lease, lest we find it running away from us once again.
How? Find time suckers: browsing social media, clicking on every “customer’s who bought this item also bought” product you see on Amazon, reading every linked article in the article you’re already reading. The culprit will be different for each of us, although there will be many culprits.
When you find yourself doing something out of habit, try to think, “Is this worth my time?” Take stock of the habits in your life and identify ones that suck up time that can be better used elsewhere. Here are some examples:
Browsing social media: I constantly find myself scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, not out of the desire to see what’s new, but out of habit. I deleted the Facebook app off my phone and log out after each session. Now, when I open up the page and see that I need to sign-in, I am more aware of how I am constantly going to the page without even realizing it. I can see how much time I’m wasting. Instead, I try to use that time to read articles, study Japanese grammar, or look up travel tips for my upcoming vacation.
Checking and replying to texts: We’ve all been part of group messages with friends that are constantly sending new texts that risk the safety of our jobs. And we all have that friend that sends novellas that would be better suited for email versus text. Either way, a lot of time is spent responding and reading texts. This can be very distracting, especially when you’re trying to read an important article like this one on your phone! I’ve found that the constant texting and notifications were pulling my focus away. To solve this, I muted group messages and friends who send epic series of long texts and only respond when I have the time or when I’m at my laptop and can type on a keyboard that actually fits my hands.
Going to events because you feel bad saying “no.” I’ve been to many parties, shows, and fundraisers. Sometimes, I want to go to these events. Other times, I feel guilty saying “no” and attend, only to spend the entire event thinking about what I could be doing with the time I was wasting. Now, if I don’t want to go to a party, I decline. If someone’s band is playing for the 50th time, I say “no” or ignore the hundreds of Facebook event reminders they send out. If someone is hosting an event to raise money for charity, I donate and go back to my regularly scheduled program.
If you only had a few hundred bucks in your back account, you wouldn’t waste it on expensive clothes and outings, would you? You’d value it and save it for something you really needed. Try to value your time as the precious commodity it is and spend it on people and things that deserve it.