You get 1,440 minutes every day, and you’re ultimately in charge of what you do with them.
But those 1,440 minutes go fast, and next thing you know – it’s bedtime again.
So before you let your minutes and hours drift away into a myriad of little things, wake up to the real purpose of your life.
Time is a resource we can’t get back. This. is. it.
“Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
– Benjamin Franklin
So ask yourself, “How can I be more productive with my time?”
Chances are, you’ll find something in this list of 12 things successful people don’t waste time on, that you can relate to.
Let’s get started!
(This post may contain affiliate links. You can check out my full disclosure policy here!)
1. An Open Schedule
Successful people have a purpose.
They believe in having a laser-focused plan of what they want to achieve on a daily basis.
It gives them a shot at a perfect day.
Sure, some activities in the day – such as work and other appointments – can be pretty set in stone.
But a big majority of the day, however, can still be planned for success.
In a survey of successful entrepreneurs, 80% of them said they use the “top three” technique to prioritize the most important three things first, then everything else later.
If something needs to get done – they schedule it in. If it can wait- it does. If it can wait and someone else can do it – they delegate.
Related: 16 #GirlBoss Habits to Develop Now!
2. Unproductive Commute Time
If you have a long commute to work each day, I feel you.
For several years, I had a commute that took 1 hour each way. Over time, it really started to suck.
But looking back, I realized I didn’t make the most of that commute time.
So many successful people will tell you that a key to their success is the constant search for self-improvement.
Part of mastering the art of time management means turning “unproductive” time into something more productive.
You see, the average millionaire reads at least 2 books every month.
How many does the average non-millionaire read?
Only four each year. That’s a pretty stark contrast.
“Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.”
– Miles Davis
So instead of listening to music or talking on the phone – listen to a podcast or audiobook instead.
Nowadays, I don’t have that long commute anymore (thank you, Lord!) but I still manage to listen to 30 minutes of Audible each day.
If I find myself really enjoying a book (like The Happiness Project), then I’ll buy the paperback version to have on hand.
We all know that one person who wears multitasking like it’s a badge of honor.
Except, it isn’t.
Trying to do more than one thing at the same time actually kills productivity.
The human brain is designed to focus on one task at a time.
When the brain is forced to switch back and forth between tasks, it slows down and becomes less efficient.
Why? Because the signals in the brain are trying to comprehend and focus on each task – which really means it can’t focus on either one.
Successful people focus on getting more done in less time.
Otherwise called a better return on their investment (ROI). They give each task their full attention until they’ve completed it.
This allows them to work faster since they are building momentum by not breaking their focus.
It also means better results with fewer errors.
Health.com published an awesome article about this called: 12 Reasons Multitasking Doesn’t Work
It’s worth the read!
4. Saying “Yes” When They Really Want to Say “No”
Setting boundaries and sticking to them is the key to not wasting time.
If you have a hard time saying no, remember that by saying “no” to one thing, you can later end up saying “yes” to something better.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Time is money” – but the truth is, time is more important than money.
We can always get more money. But time is something that once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
So since time is the most valuable resource we will ever have, you shouldn’t invest it into something that isn’t important to you.
Don’t let your precious time slip through your fingers.
5. Not Having Clear Goals
Only three percent of adults have written goals and plans. It’s this three percent that earns more than all of the other 97 percent combined.
This is called the 3 percent factor.
Of all the items on this list, this one will do more to guarantee your success than any other single factor.
“If you don’t build your dream someone else will hire you to help build theirs.”
– Tony Gaskins
Several years ago, Forbes did a research study about goal-setting at Harvard University.
They asked students if they had set specific, written goals, as well as if they had made clear plans to achieve them.
The result was that only 3 percent of the students had written goals and plans to achieve them, 13 percent had goals in their heads but hadn’t written them down and 84 percent had no goals at all.
After 10 years, the same group of students was interviewed again. And the results were surprising.
The 13 percent of the class who had goals, but did not write them down, earned twice the amount of the 84 percent who had no goals.
And the 3 percent who had written goals were earning, on average, 10 times MORE than the other 97 percent of the class combined.
Aren’t those odds you’d like to have in your favor?
6. Answering the Phone While They’re Busy
If the call can wait, they let it go to voicemail.
If a text comes in, they let them wait.
While our phones can be helpful tools – they can also be massive distractions.
In one study, people were given tests that required their full attention.
Some of those people were told to set their phones to “silent.”
Others were instructed to keep their phones near them, and some were asked to move their phone to another room.
The participants who had their phone in a separate room “significantly outperformed” everyone else on the test.
Successful business people also report being 26% more productive when they choose to put their phone away.
The texts, calls, and social media updates will be there when they get back.
7. Under Automating
If you do it again and again and again, you really don’t want to be starting over each time.
Automate things that happen weekly, monthly, or yearly.
Lifehack has a great article on the Top 10 Hacks for Automating Your Life which included:
- Make your bills pay themselves.
- Organize important documents and files.
- Get automatic discounts (Ebates is great for this. It’s free to use and you get cash back and coupons when you shop)
- Maintain your computer without the work.
I don’t need to tell you how excessive social media usage is a huge waste of time, do I? Probably not.
But let’s talk about something more specific: taking photos.
We’ve all taken pictures of special moments in our lives. Pretty sunsets, vacations, good food, and family pictures.
Whenever that picture perfect moment hits, out comes the camera and up goes the Instagram post.
The problem is, this generational obsession with sharing our lives sucks up more time than we think.
Recent research suggested that the average selfie takes up to 12 minutes to create.
Consider all the things you have to do to get it social media ready: planning, staging, picture taking, finding the best one, editing, typing a caption, and sharing.
It’s no surprise it takes so long.
The thing is, the average lifespan of an Instagram photo is between 6 and 48 hours – from the time it’s shared until the time people stop engaging with it.
So people spend an excessive amount of time creating photos, while very few people actually interact with them for very long.
Does the engagement they receive (or lack of, really) warrant the excessive amount of time spent on it?
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
– William Penn
Snap the picture and preserve the memory, but be more mindful of the endless consumption of social media.
Last year I read the book: A Complaint Free World – and it changed my life forever.
The funny thing is, I never really thought of myself as a complainer in the first place. I just thought the book title was interesting.
But, I was actually able to use the rubber band method to change my way of thinking – and become a more positive person overall.
So now before I speak, I ask myself:
Is it useful?
Does it help anyone?
Does it help ME?
Does it need to be shared?
Nothing positive comes from complaining. It wastes time, and most importantly, it makes you (and the people around you) feel worse.
10. Waiting for “the Perfect Time.”
I was listening to a successful businesswoman speak one time about which piece of advice she’d give to people who wanted to be successful.
She said, “Start before you feel ready.”
And what I’ve learned is, if you want to summarize the habits of successful people into one phrase, it’s this: successful people start before they feel ready.
We all start in the same boat: no money, no resources, no contacts, no experience.
The difference, though, is that winners start now – with no guarantee of success.
When you actually get started and turn your emotion into energy, your energy into action, and your action into something meaningful, momentum steps in and lends a hand.
So start before you feel ready or you risk not starting at all.
11. Making and Canceling Plans
These days, our technology makes it so easy to make plans and cancel them.
The benefit of the technology at our fingertips is that we can quickly communicate and organize events in a matter of seconds.
But by doing so, we risk overextending ourselves or committing to plans that we have no intention of keeping in the first place.
43% of people regularly cancel plans through social media, email, and texts.
This not only can harm relationships, but it also wastes time.
As we rely more on digital communication, we become detached from the people who truly matter.
Productive people know their schedule, so they know exactly what plans they can make and which ones they can’t.
They focus more on things they’re actually interested in, and they give advanced notice if they have to cancel.
A small amount of responsibility and dependability go a long way when it comes to saving time.
12. Putting Themselves Last
You are your biggest asset, but do you treat yourself that way?
We ALL have times where we fail to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise, or practice self-care – but, if we want to ensure our long-term success (and happiness) we have to put ourselves first.
What do you think about when you see yourself as “being healthy”?
Eating healthy food and exercising, right?
How many people consider sleep as a part of being healthy?
Or having some much needed “me time”?
“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”
The truth is, many things make up a healthy and happy individual.
You might think that spending more time on yourself would be wasteful, but the opposite is true.
“Self-care is the activities that make for a meaningful life outside of work, while contributing to better performance at work.”
Read that sentence again.
Self-care actually improves and enhances our productivity.
So now that you’ve read all this, then you probably want to be more productive.
Here are some actionable steps to help you enhance your productivity:
LIMIT YOUR TO-DO LIST
Instead of writing 100 things on your to-do list and only getting 3-4 things finished – shorten your list.
Pick your TOP three priorities and get them done.
If you have time left over afterward, you can find more productive things to get done.
I call these my “big three” and I write them down before I go to bed.
I know that if I can get at least those three things done, then my day is deemed a success.
USE THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.
The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, usually about 25 minutes long, separated by short breaks.
These 25-minute intervals are known as “pomodoros.”
The goal is to focus on ONE task for 25 minutes, then have a 5-minute break afterward.
After you’ve finished four pomodoros, take a longer break between 15 and 30 minutes.
This technique enhances concentration and avoids the pitfalls of multitasking.
The breaks are great for refreshing and resetting your brain. Research done by New York University concluded that these breaks can also improve memory and recall.
SCHEDULE SPACE FOR TIME WASTERS
Instead of allowing yourself to get sidetracked several times each hour – just set aside time later to scroll through your newsfeed or check emails.
By doing so, you won’t feel deprived and you’ll give your brain a mental break from whatever task you’ve been working on.
IMPLEMENT THE 2-MINUTE RULE
“Most of the tasks that you procrastinate on aren’t actually difficult to do — you have the talent and skills to accomplish them — you just avoid starting them for one reason or another,” said author James Clear.
“The 2–Minute Rule overcomes procrastination and laziness by making it so easy to start taking action that you can’t say no.”
The rule is: if something takes two minutes or less to finish, then do it right away.
Examples could be taking out the trash, sorting junk mail, or responding to an email.
This rule kills two birds with one stone: 1. You knock a lot of small things off your list and 2. It encourages you to get started
Procrastination is the thief of time, so the two-minute rule may be just the boost you need to get stuff done.
Thanks for reading!