Finding Time by Taming Common Time Wasters – 5 Tips

Finding time and staying on track should not be so hard, right? You have your eye out for the really big distractions. But maybe it’s the small time wasters that throw you off.

Common Time Wasters:

  1. You plan to go to bed early, but there is an exciting basketball game on TV. The next thing you know, it’s the end of double overtime and you are in bed much later than you had planned.
  2. You are going to the gym before work but check your home e-mail before heading out the door. You get caught up in reading and responding, and run out of time.
  3. You are on your way to an important meeting in an unfamiliar area. You pull over at the sight of an inviting restaurant to order a cup of coffee, decide to call a friend while waiting, and are late for your meeting.

What Do These 3 Scenarios Have In Common?

  1. Your focus shifted and you tried to fit a new activity into your schedule.
  2. You probably thought you were being flexible and going with the flow.
  3. You may have felt victimized by the consequence.
  4. You have undermined your trust in yourself to follow through on your plans.

Important Distinction: Being flexible and “going with the flow” are NOT the same!

In each of these examples, being flexible would mean making a conscious choice to stay on course or to change it. When you do that, you are recognizing and mindfully navigating the choices that your day presents. This is a very empowering distinction to make for yourself!

5 Tips for Taming These Time Wasters

  1. Make an effective To-Do List and keep it nearby for reference. This is the course you have committed to for the day. When you are tempted to change your plans, ask yourself, “What goal am I putting at risk?”
  2. Weigh the consequences of putting your prior plans at risk before coming to a decision.
  3. Make a list of your own particular time wasters, and notice what feelings precede an impulsive choice that wastes your time. Are you feeling anxious, bored, or angry? What is an effective way to resolve what is bothering you without becoming diverted from your plans?
  4. Schedule a specific time every day for spontaneous pleasure. The more consistently you enjoy this special portion of your day, the easier it will be to reject impulsive choices.
  5. If you genuinely value flexibility, make a list of situations in which you wish to ‘bend your schedule’ – such as helping a friend in need, extra time with your child, etc. and create buffer time into your day to accommodate these events.

Consider your options the next time a temptation crosses your path. Take a deep breath, affirm what you value and have planned, and make a conscious decision. The choice is yours… and each time you make it, you are finding time!

What is your next step to tame the choices that steal your time?

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