By: Kristen J. Gough
We’ve all been there -- you need a moment to unwind and you pop online to check Facebook. An hour later you realize you’re even more behind on important tasks, you’ve got to rush to the grocery store before picking up your kids from school … oh, and that stack of bills? They still need your attention. Even though we have more ways to trim tasks -- like phones that handle email, give weather updates and help us bank online -- there are also more ways to waste your minutes away.
No, you don’t have to schedule every second of your day, but by keeping in mind a few tips, you can get more done and still have a moment or two to update your Facebook status. Ready to tackle these time wasters?
“I’ll do it later today.”
Have you ever seen one of your kids do this? She puts off doing her homework (despite you’re nagging). Then right around bedtime she rushes to finish up her assignment. She’s cranky. You’re cranky. Her work is sloppy but no one cares anymore because it’s done. Save yourself from the same cycle of procrastination by doing your least favorite task first thing in the morning. You’ll get it out of the way so you can concentrate on other things. Plus, you won’t have the oh-I’ve-got-to-do-that-still cloud hovering over you all day.
“I’m just going to check my Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter account for a minute.”
Try this little experiment: Write down the times you go on social media sites, and the amount of time you spend, for two days. When look over your list you might find that all of those moments of “checking Facebook nd” add up to an hour or more once you add it all together. That doesn’t mean that you should give up social media! Instead, try limiting yourself—go online at a specific time of day for a set amount of time. For example, go online for 30 minutes after you’ve put the kids to bed. You might even set your phone alarm to remind you when the time is up. (Then go chat with your partner!)
“I’m so good at multitasking.”
Ah, the allure of multitasking. I love the idea that I can do laundry while cooking dinner and balancing my checkbook all at the same time. There’s just one problem: when I’m done I’ve shrunk my favorite shirt (it hid somewhere in a towel I dried on high), dinner is burnt, and I’m in the red. When you try to focus on everything it’s tough to accomplish one. Chances are it will actually take you less time to do one task at a time then it would to try doing everything all at once.
“I’ll stay up late to do it.”
Sometimes, it seems like the easiest way to get more done is to cut down on sleep -- go to bed a little later ... and later and later. But when you’re tired it’s harder to get anything done. You’re dragging. You can’t concentrate. Avoid the lack-of-sleep trap by giving yourself a bedtime. And stick to it! You’re likely to find it’s easier to prioritize what you need to get done if you know what time you’re hitting the sack.
“Sure, I can do that too.”
Learning to say no is one of the most important ways to avoid wasting time. When a friend/co-worker/kid’s teacher asks you do something, invoke the 24-hour rule—just say you need time to think it through and you’ll have your answer in 24 hours. Look over your schedule and see whether you really have the time to fit in something else. Once you’ve mulled it over, don’t be shy about saying, “I’m just not available right now.”
What are your top time wasters? Have you found a trick to keeping yourself on track?
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Kristen J. Gough Kristen J. Gough is Completely You’s mom blogger. A mom of three, she is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Parenting, Parents, KIWI, and other national and regional publications. Follow her family’s culinary adventures on her blog, MyKidsEatSquid.
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