Top 5 Biggest Time Wasters – AND How to Stop Them

If you’ve been following along on the Buttontapper Challenge this month, you’ll see that today’s prompt is about Time Wasters. As such, I thought I’d share with you my personal Top 5 Time Wasters… as well as some ideas for how I’ve been trying to break these bad habits.

Time wasters, ahoy!

  1. Mindless Internet Clicking – This is my number one bad habit, and it’s one of the hardest to break. Especially now that there’s no such thing as being “offline,” I find that my best bet for avoiding mindless clicking is to temporarily block or ban myself from the internet altogether. Sometimes I use a tool like Freedom, which allows you to block specific websites that are time wasters (social media, anyone?), and sometimes I will just turn off the computer and write in a notebook with a pen. Either way, the goal is to escape the constant clicking and distracted thinking that goes along with it.
  2. iPhone/iPad Games – Similar to mindless clicking, I will often “reward” myself for completing a task with the chance to play a quick game on my phone or tablet. While some of these games are fun and easy to walk away from (a version of Solitaire called “Spite and Malice” is one of my favorites), others are far more addictive. I’ve had to delete a lot of games from my devices because they were nagging me constantly to check in and keep playing (Hay Day, for instance). One game I will probably never delete from my phone, however, is Pokemon Go because I can justify it as part of my exercise routine. Yes, walking around town to collect imaginary items at designated Pokestops IS exercise!
  3. Social Media – A big part of my mindless clicking habit is checking in on social media. Although I am making it a priority to schedule my social media posts in advance this year, I still drop in to different sites to join in on the current conversation, and Facebook is notorious for wasting my time with its drama and online arguments. I’m getting to the point where I am going to start scheduling specific times of the day for social media check-ins, and set timers on my phone so I can’t get so caught up in all of this nonsense.
  4. TV and Movies – Although I enjoy relaxing and unwinding at the end of my day by snuggling up with my husband for a few episodes of our favorite shows (Futurama reruns are always a good place to start), the tendency to binge-watch hours and hours of TV and movies is not helping my productivity nor my sanity. In my single life, I actually hated watching TV, and would do everything in my power to avoid it – including giving away the TV I had in my apartment. In my married life, however, the TV is prominent in our bedroom, and unfortunately I don’t think this will ever change. So my current plan is to watch an episode or two with my husband, and then head out to the living room to read a book on my own. I don’t really need to see the same shows for the 9 millionth time, and if I feel like reading a book is a much more relaxing way to end my day than falling asleep in front of the TV. Again.
  5. Reading Books I Don’t Enjoy – I actually had to laugh when I saw this Lifehack article that lists the author’s top 20 Time Wasters, where she mentioned “reading junky books.” My first reaction was “Reading isn’t a time waster!” But, when I really thought about it, I realized that I do often prefer to dive into a book than do certain items on my To Do List (cleaning the litterboxes? yeah… I’ll get to that after I read just ONE MORE CHAPTER!). Although I would consider this one a much more mild offender, reading books I don’t actually enjoy is quite a waste of my time, too, so this year I’ve resolved to remove books from my Kindle or my To Read pile if they haven’t captured my interest by the halfway point. I’ve also started a Goodreads shelf for books I abandon, just in case I ever feel the motivation to pick them back up again.

Disconnect to Recharge and Regroup

As you’ve probably observed, my most nefarious time wasters are all technology related. Surprise! As a result, another good strategy for combating most of these bad habits is to unplug.

Recently I’ve been participating in an energy saving challenge through OhmConnect that will give me set times and dates when I am supposed to decrease my energy usage for an hour. This has gotten me into an irregular habit of shutting down my computer completely, in order to save those kilowatt hours. The challenge also asks you to check in with what you’re planning to do during your hour, and offers suggestions like going for a walk, eating dinner by candlelight, or reading a book. You can always choose to participate or opt out of the hour in advance, so it’s an interesting way to see whether or not you can bring your energy usage down below your forecasted amount. (It’s also a good way to save money on your energy bill AND earn extra cash for participating! Click here to sign up – and yes, that’s an affiliate link.)

Your Turn

So, those are some of my personal time wasting demons. What kinds of things keep YOU distracted from doing what you need – or want – to do? And how can you tackle these temptation to procrastinate?