Time Wasters, Second Draft, Part 2

(Part II — still a rough draft)

So I know I have enough time—I just have to learn to use it prop­er­ly! Get­ting my actu­al use of time in line with my pri­or­i­ties is impor­tant to me. Some of my worst time-wasters are not­ed here. Some I’ve come fair­ly far in over­com­ing, and some I’m work­ing on (like the com­put­er use).

Declut­ter
Reduc­ing the clut­ter around me has done more than any­thing else to save time. I can­not rec­om­mend this strong­ly enough: reduce the clut­ter in your life. Get rid of the crap you don’t real­ly use, clothes you sel­dom wear, books you aren’t going to re-read, and old soft­ware. The chances of you NEEDING those Win­dows for Work­groups diskettes are some­where between slim and none (you have no idea how hard it was for me to get rid of those myself). And if you did, let’s be hon­est: you could down­load them some­where. When all that’s left is what you need or love, it’s far eas­i­er to find what you’re look­ing for quick­ly and to enjoy what you have.

Main­tain
I have to keep remind­ing myself that it is ever so much eas­i­er to take care of things in a grad­ual, relaxed way than to deal with them after I’ve let them slide. Main­tain­ing is the key to house­work, paper­work, car main­te­nance, every­thing. Don’t wait until you’re almost out of gas to fill up the tank. Don’t wait until there are no clean dish­es to run the dish­wash­er. Don’t let your­self run around pan­ick­ing because it’s time to leave for work or an inter­view and you don’t have any clean pants. Don’t wait ’til it’s time to leave for work to walk the dog. Don’t wait until you run out of a med­ica­tion you take reg­u­lar­ly to start the refill process. You know those things have to be done, so don’t put them off. (I keep telling myself this over and over and over, and some­times I even listen!)

Rou­tines
Habits don’t require thought, right? So devel­op­ing good habits—routines—is a way to auto­mat­i­cal­ly do the things that will make our lives eas­i­er. Cre­ate them and use them. Look­ing for lost items is a waste of time. If you always put the keys on the key rack, there’s no need to look for them. If you always put your wal­let on the dress­er, it’s going to be there every time you need it.

Remove Dis­trac­tions
This is actu­al­ly the big one. Very big. The one I find most dif­fi­cult right now, in fact. If I sound harsh, it’s because I’m fuss­ing at myself very seri­ous­ly here.

1) Don’t take read­ing mate­r­i­al into the bath­room or to the table. I’m seri­ous. You’ll spend more time than you real­ize because you’re read­ing, and you’ll waste time (you can also make your­self more prone to cer­tain health problems).

2) Turn off the tele­vi­sion when you’re work­ing on any­thing. Again, it is a dis­trac­tion and it will slow you down. Turn on the radio or put in a CD if you need the noise. You won’t be look­ing at a screen, so it won’t slow you down as much. (Not a big prob­lem for me so much, but it has been an issue in our family.)

3) Turn off the PC. Seriously—how much time do you NEED to spend sit­ting at a com­put­er? If your job involves writ­ing or cod­ing or some­thing of the sort, it’s under­stand­able that you’re sit­ting at a PC all day. But at home? Don’t even start to com­plain about not get­ting enough time with your kids or part­ners if you have that PC on all the time. Turn It Off. (I have to keep remind­ing myself of this, despite the fact that I know damned well that sit­ting in this chair is hav­ing a neg­a­tive effect on my health.)

4) When you’re work­ing at a PC, work. Don’t have email or a brows­er with LJ or a game open on your PC. Don’t give me that BS about multitasking—it does­n’t fly. I’ve timed peo­ple who claim to work best while mul­ti­task­ing, and they don’t. If you’re writ­ing, keep the word proces­sor or text edi­tor open, and noth­ing else. Don’t let your­self be seduced into “research.” If you MUST research some­thing, give your­self a set amount of time to do it and then close the web brows­er again. (I could spend hours research­ing one LJ post—and just how impor­tant would it be anyway?)

5) If you need to be some­where at a par­tic­u­lar time, don’t sit down at a PC. Get show­ered and dressed and have every­thing ready to go, then sit down to print out your direc­tions if you must. If that’s why you’re at the PC, though, don’t open your email or any­thing BUT what­ev­er you need for the direc­tions. No “quick check” of your email or LJ. You’re fool­ing your­self, and you know it.

6) If you have an instant mes­sag­ing pro­gram open, you’re like­ly to use it. That would be fine if you had noth­ing else to do, but if you want to accom­plish any­thing, it’s divid­ing your atten­tion and wast­ing your time. Change things so that they do NOT open auto­mat­i­cal­ly. Give your­self a cer­tain peri­od of time a day to check in with IM friends. Open that soft­ware then, and close it after­ward. Use a timer or some­thing to stay aware of the time. (If I had writ­ten as many words in a nov­el as I have in chat/IMs in my life, I’d have a lot more to show for it.)

7) How much of what you receive in your email is impor­tant? Seri­ous­ly? Prob­a­bly not a whole lot. I get hun­dreds of mes­sages a day, and at the moment I can’t think of any­thing *impor­tant* that I’ve learned in an email in a very long time. I get one or two urgent mes­sages a day regard­ing the vol­un­teer work I do, but that’s it. The rest could wait. Eter­nal­ly, if necessary.
—Use fil­ters and oth­er tech­niques (I like Spam­Cop myself) to keep spam from wast­ing your time.
—Use fil­ters and sep­a­rate email accounts for the rest. I use one email address for all mail­ing list traf­fic, and sort list traf­fic to sep­a­rate fold­ers to read when I have time. I assume that any­thing sent to the address I use for mail­ing lists isn’t impor­tant or urgent, and I’m right 99% of the time.
—Unsub­scribe from lists that aren’t tru­ly valu­able to you.
—Give busi­ness asso­ciates an email address that you ONLY use for business.
—Give close fam­i­ly and friends an address you use SOLELY for them.
—Ask ALL your cor­re­spon­dents not to send you any­thing but per­son­al mes­sages — not chain let­ters, for­ward­ed prayers or arti­cles, or jokes, but just actu­al mes­sages THEY WRITE about what’s going on with them. Take your own advice.

8) What does LJ add to your life? Do you spend more time read­ing or writ­ing? Think about it. If you start­ed your jour­nal as a JOURNAL, but you spend more time read­ing or com­ment­ing on oth­er peo­ple’s jour­nals than writ­ing on your own, it’s become a time sink for you. Drop LJ com­mu­ni­ties, RSS feeds and “friends” that don’t add sig­nif­i­cant­ly to your life.

9) How much of the infor­ma­tion you take in each day is impor­tant? I am an infor­ma­tion junkie. I am the first to admit it. I could eas­i­ly spend all day “research­ing” or ran­dom­ly surf­ing around read­ing var­i­ous arti­cles that catch my eye. Do I need to do that? No. Are there oth­er things that are more impor­tant? Absolute­ly. Look at your news­pa­per and mag­a­zine sub­scrip­tions as well as the time you spend watch­ing, lis­ten­ing to, or read­ing the news, and re-eval­u­ate that in terms of your own priorities.

Read­ing, watch­ing TV, LJ, email, online chat­ting, ran­dom surf­ing, and games are fine when it’s time to do those things. It’s all too easy to let them take more and more of your time and ener­gy, though. It is for me, at least! I’m cer­tain­ly not say­ing that any of these things are evil, but they do lead to bleed­ing time for me and many oth­er people. 

It all comes down to one thing: Being aware of what we’re doing, and how much time we’re spend­ing doing it.

Cyn is a proud Mommy & Mémé, professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
Posts created 4241

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top