Life is short. Time is precious. You’ve got to live each day to the fullest. We’ve all heard these sayings a million times and felt that pang in our hearts because we know it’s all true. We feel that sudden desire to book a trip to Rome or a skydiving adventure. We resolve to stop wasting our lives away and be more spontaneous. We feel inspired for a bit, but soon get pulled back to the grind of our busy lives and forget to make the most of our days.
Well, I for one am sick of giving my time away! I want more time for the activities that I enjoy and less time wasted on things I don’t care about. Your life is yours to spend however you like it and you absolutely deserve more. So, I’ve identified 5 time-wasting habits that I want you to cut out of your life today. And because we’re getting serious, I’ve included steps you can take to make these time-wasting habits go away for good.
Binge Watching TV/Netflix
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of watching TV. There’s nothing cozier than winding down with your favourite Netflix show at the end of the day. You can forget about your problems – like the depleting state of the world or the bill that’s waiting for you on the kitchen table.
Instead, you can allow yourself to be swept into someone else’s story for an hour or two…or four. Sure, TV is great, but when is it too much? Have you ever gotten sucked into a series on Netflix, only to end up appalled by how many hours you lost in the day?
Well, a 2013 study found that the average Canadian was watching 30 hours of TV a week (which comes out to almost 4.5 hours a day!). Okay, this is horrible. But that’s not us, right? The stats have got to be skewed by hermits who live at home all day and watch TV non-stop…right?
- Log your TV watching habits for a week and see how you measure up. I guarantee you’re watching more than you realize. Once you have your number of hours watched, ask yourself if you’re okay with this number. If you’re not comfortable giving this much of your time to the inanimate rectangle in your living room, re-think your habits and set yourself some limitations. Think about what sounds reasonable to you and go from there (hint: 4 hours/day is not reasonable).
Overuse Of Social Media
I probably don’t need to explain to you why you need to limit your social media time. We all know it by now – the digital age has turned us all into thoughtless robots who compulsively check our social media feeds before bed and as soon as we wake up.
But in case you’d like a statistic or two, here you go! The average millennial with an internet connection spends 3.2 hours a day on their phones. For Canadians, 72% of this time is spent on social media. Yep, this is bad. But take a deep breath – we can change this!
- Edit your Notification Settings. Don’t you hate being distracted by notifications 20+ times a day? It’s especially annoying when it’s just a notification telling you it’s your ex-roomate’s friend’s cousin’s birthday. Ugh. To find out how to edit your notifications on Facebook, go here. For Twitter, go here.
To edit your Notifications Settings for all Apps on your smartphone: Go into the “Settings” on your phone and find “Notifications”. Now you can decide which Apps you want to receive notifications for. If Facebook is your main distraction, open up the Facebook App and choose which specific notifications you want on and off. I’ve included some screen caps below to help you out. You’ll just need to click on your Menu icon, scroll down to chose “Settings” and then “Account Settings”. Once here, scroll down to “Notifications” and decide which ones you want to opt out of.
- Leave your phone at home! I like to take social media breaks by leaving my phone at home for short periods of time. Of course, it’s a good idea to carry a phone for emergencies, but if I know I’m only out for a little while, I’ll leave it behind (what can I say – I’m a risk-taker!).
When I’m at home, I like to leave my phone in another room to give myself a break. It feels surprisingly awesome. If you like, turn up your ringer so you’ll still hear it if someone calls. When your phone isn’t next to you, you can’t grab for it automatically to scroll through Twitter or Instagram. This will help you stay in the moment and be present. Ohhmmm.
- Delete your social media Apps from your phone. Okay, I know. This one’s only for the strong-willed among us. But I do recommend at least trying it out for a day (you can always download the Apps back if you get too panicky!). At the very least, it’s an experiment that will make you aware of how often you look for your Facebook App.
Deleting these Apps from your phone will stop you from automatically clicking on those icons every time you open your phone. It adds an extra step, so when you want to check your notifications, you’ll have to open your browser and type in the url the old-fashioned way. Yes, this is inconvenient and time-consuming, but if that stops you from opening Facebook in the first place…Goal achieved!
Excessive Personal Grooming
Now if you’re someone who takes 5 minutes to get ready before leaving the house, you can skip this one. Or if you’re someone who takes 2 hours to get ready but you’re passionate about hair and makeup and getting dressed up makes you happy, then you can skip this one, too. But here’s why I think most of us could cut our “getting ready” routine in half and be better off.
No one cares what you look like. Sorry, guys but you’re just not that important. Here’s an example: I cut out primer, eyeshadow, eyeliner, highlighter and blush from my makeup routine. Now I wear only cover-up, foundation and mascara and it takes me less than 5 minutes to get my face ready. And guess what, guys? No one noticed the difference. People thought I didn’t wear makeup before and they think I don’t now!
- Gauge whether you need to make a change by timing yourself getting ready. Find out how much time you’re spending every morning putting on your makeup, getting your hair right and putting your clothes on. Ask yourself if you’re okay with giving that much time away to getting ready. If a messy bun can save you from two hours of washing, drying and straightening your hair, it might be a worthy trade-off.
Watching Too Many YouTube Videos
Getting a kick out of the occasional YouTube video is one thing, but when you’re subscribed to 30 different channels that are all posting weekly videos…that’s a lot of videos to keep up with. YouTube is the perfect time-waster because there’s new content posted every single day (about 300 hours of video uploaded per minute).
The website is designed to keep you watching videos with features like auto-play and the never-ending list of related videos that show up next to each video you watch. It’s so easy to get trapped watching hours of videos when you only wanted to watch one 5-minute video about a cat running away from a cucumber. Are you mad at YouTube yet? Don’t let videos steal your time!
- Go through your subscriptions as if you’re decluttering your house. For each subscription ask yourself, Do I love this channel? and Is it useful to me? Viewing preferences change over time and you’ll be surprised at how many channels you’ve outgrown and no longer get enjoyment from. You’re likely watching a ton of content you don’t even like simply because it shows up in your subscription feed. Ugh. Biggest time-waster!
- Bookmark your subscription feed and head straight there instead of youtube.com. Why? You’ve probably noticed that YouTube is now set up so that the first things you see on your homepage are “Recommended” videos and not your subscriptions. This ensures that you are exposed to somewhere around 15 click-baity video titles and thumbnails the moment you open the website. It takes an extra step to click the tab on the side to get to your subscriptions. There’s currently no way to change this, so instead save this url and head to your subs straight away.
Attending Social “Obligations”
We all have different preferences when it comes to the way we socialize. Some of us get our energy from spending lots of time with others and some of us find time with others completely draining.
Whatever type of person you are, you’re bound to get invites to what we call “social obligations”. Maybe you got invited to a work party that you feel like you can’t get out of. Or maybe your friend invited you to a play and you don’t have the heart to tell them you hate Shakespeare. When this happens, take a moment to think about what you’re agreeing to. Your time is your time!
- Learn to say ‘No’. Life is short – are you really going to spends hours fulfilling an “obligation” because you don’t want to say no? A little sternness will get you out of something you really don’t need to take part in. Saying no takes practice – trust me, I know – but it will get easier each time. The result? You’ll get hours back in your week to put towards the activities you love.
- Stop feeling guilty! There’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend less time with others. It feels kinda crappy leaving a party early or bailing on a friend. But remember that your time is just as precious as theirs and you don’t owe your time to anyone. In fact, if you’re not enjoying hanging out with another person, it’s not really fair to spend time with them. Would you want to hang out with someone who didn’t really want your company? You’re in control of your life and you’re the one you has to put yourself first.
I hope these tips have helped you get rid of time-wasting! I’ve got one more task for you. It’s easy, I promise 🙂
Grab a piece of paper and write down roughly how many hours you’re spending on different activities every week. Include things like running errands, exercising, cleaning, socializing, family time, watching tv etc. You can estimate the hours or log them as they happen if you like. This will help you visualize your week and decide if you’re happy with how you typically spend your time. I’m always surprised by what I discover!
So, what did you find out?