I don't know about you, but I want to accomplish quite a bit on a daily basis. I am conscious of my productivity (I share tips here, here, and here) and getting tasks accomplished, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not alone in feeling as though I could improve were I to minimize time wasters. So how have I gone about changing my habits, and how can you do it too? Let's dive in!
Step 1: ObserveSo the first thing you'll want to do is see where your time is going. While I listed a whole bunch of online time wasters, you may find yourself texting too much or distracting yourself with cleaning or snacking or who knows what. Take a few days to be mindful of how you are spending your time and identify what is unnecessary.
Step 2: Find out WHY
Once you know what your time wasters are, determine WHY you are drawn to them. For me, I love Pinterest like nothing else. The beautiful imagery and the links to useful resources always have me coming back for more. A great way to address this is by being a social media minimalist (which I proudly am!), but I still find myself opening the app even when I am up to date on my feed. I've found the reason I do this is because I look to Pinterest for inspiration and treat it as something productive ("I need new blog post ideas," I lie to myself), even when it isn't. This means I need to find a way to feel inspired that doesn't lead me down a productivity killing rabit hole.
For what you've observed in step 1, ask yourself these questions:
- What's appealing about x?
- How does x hold my attention?
- Could I get the same feeling/satisfaction from something else?
Step 3: Combat
Now is the time to take action! Since you now know what is taking your time and why that is, you can address it. For me, I realized that I would have to replace Pinterest with something that left me feeling inspired and that I could look forward to that would not serve as a continual distraction. Instead of popping over to the site anytime I was feeling a bit bored with my work, I decided instead to allow myself one morning and one evening Pinterest session (and if you see pins going up on my account at different times, that's because I schedule them in advance, not because I'm using it as a time waster!). I also have shifted the source of my inspiration to magazines, books, and spending time outside, which requires dedicated time instead of serving as a distraction.
Limiting your time and looking at fulfilling the same desire in a different way can help you to eliminate these time wasters!
Step 3.5: Acknowledge
This last step doesn't quite count as a full step, but I think it's very important. You have to acknowledge that these time wasters are (usually) designed to grab your attention and keep you coming back. Especially for social media, they are made to keep you engaged so that they can make money. Don't beat yourself up too much if you find it difficult to distance yourself. Rather, be both disciplined and forgiving with yourself, while continually striving to improve.
What do you find sucks away your time? How do you avoid it?