How To Stop Wasting Time: 11 Tips To Get Things Done
As mom, we have so much on our plates. Whether you work or stay at home, our lives are always busy. So when we get the chance to ‘zone out’ on our cell phones, most of us take it. But how many hours do you think you spend on social media, watching TikTok videos, and just plain procrastinating whenever you get a little time to yourself? In this post, I want to give you some tips that I have found super helpful in helping me learn how to stop wasting time.
50 years ago, there was only one way to talk to people that were not in the same room with you…on the telephone. And if you were already on the phone, nobody else could call and get your attention. You had the ability to focus on your call, or whatever other thing you were doing…like cooking, working, or watching the kids.
As human beings in this decade, we all know how bombarded our attention is There is a constant barrage of messages and people who need something from us. And it always feels urgent. We are continuously being pinged to scroll to the latest TikTok video, read the newest email, or binge the best Netflix series.
Yes, we all feel the pressure to keep up with everything social…but in doing so, we seem to be missing the time we need to actually get the important things done. Like work, kids, and homelife.
So how do sort through how much time we actually have and how much of it we are wasting? Well, we stop…and we think about it.
How To Stop Wasting Time
1// Determine Your Time Wasters
The first step to determining where your time is going is to know what things are a waste of time and what things are not. So make a list of all the things you absolutely NEED to get done today. And another list of all the things that are not something you NEED to get done today.
Here are some of the biggest time wasters I know of.
- Rabbit Holes: I am telling you that if you want to procrastinate, you will. And going down a virtual rabbit hole is a great way to do it. Anytime you start to follow that endless thread of what if questions to the point that you realize you got significantly off task several minutes to hours later…that is a rabbit hole.
- Fear of Failure: Being so afraid to fail that you find all the other things you can do to keep yourself from making progress. Things like finding ways to validate your incapability’s, watching successful people on social media sites, and other time-wasting activities
- Social Media Scrolling: Getting sucked into the scroll will only cause you to put off actual work. only show certain things on your home screen.
- Pinterest and Blog Posts: Reading and looking at what you should actually be doing.
- Binge Watching: Binging notorious shows during your work hours is a huge time waster.
2// Take note of the time
The next step, is to write down approximately how much time you are spending on each task. Whether it is something that is a waste of time or something that you are actually supposed to be doing.
3// Add it all up
Add up the time you spent doing the work you need to get done and then add up the time you spend on time wasters. What did you notice?
This little exercise will show you where your time is going in the first place. Then you can take steps to get that time back.
So everyone may notice different things. But most people notice that they are spending a few hours on the time wasters and they could be putting that time to better use.
More Tips to Stop Wasting Time
Procrastination is the one word that all of these time wasters have in common. It is when you start saving important things for the last minute because you have wasted all of your time doing things that don’t really matter in the scheme of things. When you stop procrastinating with time wasters, you will start to realize how much you can actually get done each and every day.
One tip is to do the most difficult task (or the one you don’t want to do) on your plate first. Then it will be out of the way early and you can move on to easier tasks for the rest of the day. A great book to read on this concept is Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy.
Make Good Use Of Your Time
Though cutting out the time wasters form above is important, using the time you have wisely is even more important during your work day.
First and foremost, you need to kick the bad habits listed above or any other bad habits you have found that help you waste time.
Then, you need to start getting better at using paper calendars, calendar apps, to-do lists, and timers.
According to a study done by The University of New Hampshire, the human brain can only truly focus for 45 minutes at a time. [source]
Because of that, one of the best ways to make sure you are doing what you need to do is with time blocking.
I use an hour by hour calendar and color in a set time based on how much time I believe a task or project will take me. And then I set a timer and schedule several 1 minute breaks every 45 minutes within that time block so I can keep my brain focused longer.
I also like to batch my work.
Recent studies have shown that every time you change tasks, it takes your brain around 23 minute to refocus on the new task. [source]
So what is batching? It is where you do all the same work at one time before switching to something different. This is literally the opposite of mutli-tasking and is way more efficient.
For example, if I need to create 10 blog posts, then instead of doing one at a time from start to finish where I choose keywords, then do research, then write and outline, then write an article….and so on…I would do 1 thing for all 10 articles at one time. I would do all my keyword choosing to all 10 articles. Then I would do research for all 10 articles…yeah, you get the drift.
The batching concept is also great for email and phone calls. Instead of answering emails or calls as they come to you, set aside a block of time at the beginning and end of your day that is just for emails and phone calls. That way you are not switching gears all day long.
Make a To-Do List
In order to make sure my day is the most productive it can be, I first write a to-do list.
When you write a to-do list, prioritize it from most important to least important. The things that are most important get placed on the calendar first and the time is blocked. Then go down the list adding the things that are important for you to get done. As you near the end of the day, things may no longer fit on the calendar. So that is when you save them for the next day.
Everyone Needs Free Time
Free time is essential for keeping your brain sharp and focused day to day. I have already mentioned taking a short break from time to time while working, but you also need to take time away from work.
One of the best things to do is just find some quiet time after work, or after a day with the kids.
Sometimes I like to go into my bedroom and close the door for 10 minutes to rest and decompress. This is also when you could play video games, get on social media sites, and do some social activities with friends. But make sure you set time limits for these things if they are something you could potentially waste a lot of time on.
Start New Habits
Having a daily routine is a must. Whether you are at the office, staying home with your kids, or working from home, doing certain things at a certain time of day allows you to understand the time in your day better.
Get in the habit of checking email first thing in the morning for 30 minutes every day. Or if you stay home with the kids, get in the habit of waking up before them to get a few things done.
Most people do their best work at the start of the day, so keep that in mind as you are planning your routine. And here is a great routine planner to help you prioritize and plan.
An end of the day routine is a good idea too because putting in a little extra time now to make sure you know what is going on tomorrow is time saved tomorrow.
And last, on the weekends, our schedules normally change from our weekdays. So since Sunday is a transition day, I like to make sure I have my ‘ducks in a row’ Sunday night so my week will hopefully go smoothly.
Specific Productivity Tips for Moms
As a mom, I find that my idea of “finding time” throughout the day when I am with the kids is a little different than finding time while I am working. But here are some of the places I find time when I am at home.
Microwave Cook Times
This may sound strange, but I like to get a few things done while I am cooking things in the microwave. The time is fast, so it is not like you are going to walk away. So instead, I keep a microfiber cloth and some diluted Dawn Water in the kitchen so I can wipe down an appliance or two while I wait.
The microwave cook time is normally just enough time to wipe grubby handprints off the microwave or drip marks off the fridge.
I was always told to nap when my kids nap, but always felt guilty doing it. But as my kids got older I started to realize that I actually get more done if I take a break when they nap. So that became my ‘break time’
Moms literally work from sun up to sun down when they have kids, so taking that break when they do is about the only time you can refresh with a show or good book. Then, you will be ready to go when the kids get back up.
Ask For Help
As a Mom, you should not be doing everything for your kids. I know that is an impulse that many of us have, but you are there to teach them how to become more independent. One incredibly important way to do that is by recruiting them to help out. They can help you at the grocery, they can definitely pick up their toys, and they can even learn to put their laundry away.
The more they help you now, the more they will learn and be able to help you later.
Just Say No
Sometimes we just don’t’ know when to stop saying yes to people. So we find that we are not only working a job, taking care of the house, and taking care of the kids, but we are also troop leader of the girl scout troop, cheer coach, and PTA president.
It is time to take your time back. Pick 1 or 2 things you are passionate about, and say no to the rest. There are plenty of other people who can volunteer. And you will have more respect for yourself.
Record What Works
Sometimes, we jsut don’t know what works for us and what doesn’t. Are we a morning person or an afternoon person? Do we like working when things are chaotic or quiet?
Taking time to write down what was happening on the days you felt most productive, will help you to stop wasting time doing things that make you unproductive.
Final thoughts about how to stop wasting time
I believe that putting your mobile phones and iPad down can really impact how you utilize your time. Less time on your devices means more time doing the most important things in your life.
So fix your lack of time management by figuring out which time management systems work for you.
You will soon come to find that when you stop wasting the precious time you have, you will get more done during set times.
The biggest challenge you will encounter will be putting your cell phone down and realizing you don’t need it for a happy life.
- Stop Procrastinating
- Good time management makes a difference
- Cut down on screen time
- Take short breaks throughout the day
- Using a calendar can help
- Break old habits and start new ones
And stop wasting time.
As a stay at home mom myself, I have found ways to keep myself sane and organized while loving what I do …be home with my kids! After 14 years of being home, I realized other moms may benefit from some of the tips and tricks I have learned over the years. Join me to learn ways to manage your home and life as a stay at home mom so you can make time to enjoy the best part…family. Things I love…feeling motivated, Harry Potter, being outside, and digging deeper into my life and my family’s life in order to make it better. I have a Degree in Biology and am also a freelance writer.