If I posed the question to you, “What is the number one thing that steals your time every day?“, what would your answer be? My guess is that you might say social media or something else unique to you. It could also be that you aren’t even aware of what consumes most of your time.
If you were able to identify the primary thing that steals your time, my next question would be, “On average, how much time does this activity take from you daily?“
That’s where the biggest problem lies. Most of us are aware of the things that consume our time, but we haven’t paid much attention to just how much time we’re truly losing to them.
What does it mean to waste your time, and how do you determine when an activity is a waste of your time? I believe this question should be answered on an individual basis, and you must be very honest in doing so.
To help you determine what qualifies as a waste of time, you must first establish your life goals. Remember, everyone has different goals. That’s why it’s important for you to answer the question for yourself, but do so honestly.
Also, note that I said “goals”, implying multiple objectives. There are different aspects of your life, and for each, there should be goals you aim to achieve. These could be related to relationships, professional life, finances, health, etc. Once you’ve identified these goals, everything you do should align with them. However, not all goals carry the same importance. You should, therefore, allocate your time towards them based on their relative significance.
With that understanding, you can easily identify time wasters in your life. Here are two scenarios in which you might be wasting time:
- Engaging in activities that negatively impact or aren’t linked to any of your set goals.
- Spending more time on an activity than you’ve designated based on the importance of that activity to your goals.
Now that you know how to identify time wasters, let’s tackle the question you might have found challenging earlier: how much time do these activities waste?
There’s a saying: “Anything that can be measured can be improved.” There’s great truth in that. To enhance something, you must first measure its impact. So, if you identify time wasters in your life and aim to minimize such wastage, you must quantify it.
By doing so, you present your brain with tangible evidence of the issue. Once you recognize how much time you’re wasting, you can begin setting targets to reduce these distractions.
Abruptly eliminating all time wasters might not work, and your brain might perceive it as an insurmountable problem. Instead, start small and improve gradually.
Let’s use a practical example. If you’ve determined that a social media platform, like TikTok, consumes about 4 hours of your day, consider this approach: Set a maximum TikTok usage time of 3 hours 30 minutes for the first two weeks. This means you should monitor your TikTok usage daily and stop once you reach the 3-hour-30-minute mark.
Maintain this for about two weeks, then reduce the maximum time to 3 hours. Strive to adhere to these time limits. There are various apps that can assist with this, locking you out once you’ve reached your allocated time. Continue refining this over time until you’re spending an amount of time on the platform that aligns with its contribution to your goals.
Remember, you can’t address a problem you aren’t aware of. Begin monitoring how you spend your time and see if there are activities you can optimize to reduce wastage. Time is a precious resource, and everyone gets the same amount each day. Use yours wisely.
Ehoneah Obed: Pharmacist, Software Engineer, Health Informatics Student.
Inspiring tech enthusiasts and future healthcare innovators. Sharing insights on software engineering, health informatics, and motivating young minds in technology and healthcare.