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This post was updated on December 7, 2015.
If you struggle with managing your time, one key step to gaining control is to figure out the things that distract you and take your attention away from the things you really should be doing. Any task that stops you from completing your most important tasks (MITs) are basically time wasters.
Do You Know What Your Time Wasters Are?
Take a minute to think about those things (or people) that interrupt your workflow and productivity.
- Are you spending more and more time checking e-mail?
- Is social media your achilles heel? Are you checking out what your peeps posted on Pinterest or Instagram?
- Do you spend a lot of time catching up with friends even though you have a deadline looming?
- Do you engage in “busy work” (non-priorities) so that you don’t have to focus on your MITs?
To figure the specific things you’re focusing on, use your smart phone notes app, paper notebook, or Evernote to start tracking how you spend your time. And, then gather intel:
- Select a week that you will start tracking your every move and click of your mouse (i.e., do your typical activities).
- Record how you’re spending your time every day during that week.
- Include how long you spend on each task.
Once you have data you can analyze, you’ll need to use it to create a new time plan.
- Start being more strategic about where you put your energies. For example, instead of playing the game you just downloaded to your iPad, let game time be your reward after you’ve spent quality time with your important projects.
- Work on those projects when you’re feeling alert and at your best.
- Use your calendar to schedule all your activities (even the fun stuff).
- Use a timer to help keep you on task.
Give this a try for 8-12 weeks — the typical amount of time for a new habit to form (yep, this is backed by science). Notice what works and keep doing it! Also take note of what needs adjusting so that you can successfully kick your time-wasters to the curb and get the right stuff done at the right time.