How to Stop Wasting Time: 5 Bad Habits to Break

Last Updated: May 3, 2021

The success mindset avoids many common time- and productivity-wasting habits that prevent many people from ever getting out of second gear. Here are five bad habits that you should eliminate immediately.

    by Agent Staff
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If there is one thing common to all successful people, it is their awesomely focused attitude towards time, and how to stop wasting time. For the successful entrepreneur, time is precious, measured in units, and every unit counts. Time really is money. Here are five habits that you should ruthlessly eliminate from your life: they are key signs that you need to urgently address how to stop wasting time.



1. Micro-Management



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Micro-managers tend to involve themselves with work that they have already assigned to others, and continue to focus on the fine detail of the task, potentially at the expense of time necessary for the big-picture vision and actions required to achieve the overall business goal. Eliminating micro-management is a big step, but it’s worth it to stop wasting time that you could be expending more fruitfully.

Micromanagement also has insidious effects—eroding the potential to develop a team of independent decision-makers, and most seriously, impacting on the loyalty of team members who believe that they should have your trust to complete a project as initially briefed.

John Baldoni, author of Great Motivation Secrets of Great Leaders, puts this most succinctly: “If you want to work 160 hours a week, don’t delegate. But you are going to crash and burn.”

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2. Always Saying ‘Yes’



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If you are still at early startup stage, and haven’t worked it out already, you’ll inevitably find that the ability to fearlessly say ‘No’ is one of the successful business person’s most powerful weapons. Saying ‘No’ will probably seem counterintuitive, but it’s a crucial strategy in learning how to stop wasting time, and ensuring that all your minutes and hours are used most efficiently.

Firstly, if you are on the ground floor with a new product or service, and you continually bow to client requests for customisations and tweaks, you may soon end up with a business that is a pale shadow of what you envisaged it would be. Saying ‘no’, politely but firmly, is the best defence.

But also, you must beware taking on too much work, just for the sake of being busy, that might drain on the resources you require in order to keep your core projects on track.

You don’t have to alienate the prospective client, simply tell them that your current commitments would leave you unable to devote the necessary focus to new projects until a specific time date.

If the enquiry is a time-senstitive one, it might also be an idea to refer the client to someone in your network who could help them more swiftly.

Networking is a huge asset in business, and this hypothetical example shows how it can work in your favour as well as the client’s and your circle of networkers.



3. Open-Ended Social Media



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Social media are among the most powerful tools at the entrepreneur’s disposal. Never in human history has there been such a direct route to research and cultivate links with humanity.

Unfortunately, it can also constitute a series of hi-tech wormholes down which you, and your productivity, can disappear, in the name of ‘research’ and ‘online networking’.

A 2015 general survey of 170,000 respondents by the Global Web Index found that daily time spent on social networks had risen to 1.72 hours.

In the business environment, such activity can be ultra unproductive, so to ensure you stop wasting time online, confine it to specific times of the day, and for strict, clearly defined business objectives.



4. Constant Email Processing

If you’re not particularly active on social media, and still wondering how to stop wasting time, analyse your email processing habits. Answering emails throughout the day can totally stymie the achievement of anything constructive, unless you undertake it in an organised and rigorous fashion.

One of the most alarming recent surveys into emailing was undertaken by the McKinsey Global Institute, which concluded that we spend 28 percent of our working weeks, or 13 hours in an average working week, reading, writing or responding to email. The Washington Post via Jordan Weissman at The Atlantic, concluded that this means people are spending some 650 hours per year processing emails.

If this is happening in work, the implications for productivity are clear. And if your time for doing it is not strictly limited, and it spills over into out-of-office time, this can negatively impact on vital downtime rest that’s so necessary to keep your performance in the office productive and focused. Streamlining your email processing is a surefire way to stop wasting time and boost your productivity.



5. Disorganisation



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A range of academic studies and books confirm that disorganisation is one of the principle time-wasting habits—one that relentlessly burns time and money. Accordingly, if you want a quick response to the question of how to stop wasting time, start here.

At worst, it also causes stress, which has clear implications for your health, and even in its mildest form, it can obscure that clear horizons that entrepreneurs require if they’re to proceed efficiently towards their medium- to long-term objectives and goals.

One of the clearest symbols of a disorganised mind is a disorganised schedule or, even more vividly, a messy desk.

A particularly bleak picture of the results of disorganisation is painted by the This Way Out Group, which says not only that employees spend 30% of their time, and executives spend six weeks annually, trying to find lost documents; but also that 15 percent of all paper handled in businesses is lost.

Multiplying one week of an executive’s salary by six is a frightening picture of the consequences disorganisation. Stop wasting time by tidying up your schedule, and your desk, today.

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