5 Modern Day Activities that Waste Time

Today’s modern age is filled with activities and opportunities to waste time. Learning to pick out those time-wasters can make it significantly easier to avoid them, and that means time spent on the activities that really matter.

Here are some of my top time-wasting activities:

1. Virtual Socialization

On the train heading into Boston recently, the seven people sitting around me all had their faces glued to their smartphones. One of them even appeared to be laughing hysterically, albeit silently. What has happened to the fine art of enjoying the moments as they happen and striking up a conversation with someone? We spend more time burying our nose into our phones, tablets, and computers than we do talking to our neighbor sitting next to us.

All too many of the devices intended to grant convenience and accessibility are, in reality, a waste of time that can leave you unproductive, struggling to remember where your time actually went.

I don’t need to tell you that social media, email, and even text messaging offer you untold opportunities to connect with the people in your life, both professionally and personally. Unfortunately, all those opportunities for connection may be sapping your productivity.

To keep a firm grip on the constant email checking, text messaging, and social media newsfeed-scrolling, designate chunks of time during the day for only this particular task when you are not engaged in something else. An example would be early mornings and late afternoons for answering emails and returning messages.

2. Gaming

It’s a source of recreation, but online games, many of which are accessed through Facebook or your mobile device, and traditional video games can suck down huge chunks of your day, leaving you feeling unfulfilled or eager to return to them as soon as possible while preventing you from accomplishing anything worthwhile. Modern games are designed to offer rewards at just the right rate to keep you coming back for more without giving too much, making them the perfect way to suck you in and destroy your productivity.

Like any mindless activity, consider how much time you are willing to waste on this activity, and then set a firm limit.

3. The Internet

For many people, the Internet is a black hole, designed to suck you in and prevent you from accomplishing anything throughout the course of your day. Funny cat pictures might not be taking over the Internet anymore, but there are still plenty of time-wasters to destroy your productivity.

As with virtual socialization like previously mentioned here, it is helpful to have designated time chunks during the day just for this task. For example, write a list of websites you wish to browse through and set aside time for this task in the evening after the dishes are done and the kids are in bed.

Have a purpose for your online browsing. Never open more than a single tab at a time without very good reason. Instead, develop a habit of conscious browsing: sign in, look for the content you are after, then close your device or log off from the computer. Do not let yourself be dragged in to the endless array of information and distraction available at the click of a button.

4. Shopping

Yes, we all need the basics. You have to shop for groceries because you have to eat, but do you really need that new handbag or the latest phone? How much of your time is spent on the weekends (or any day rather) hopping from store to store looking for deals on your favorite products? Might that time be better spent enjoying a hockey game or visiting Grandpa?

Finally, never shop without a plan in mind or a to-buy list. This is true regardless if you are at a physical store or an ecommerce website.

5. Television

I need not dwell on this time waster. Much like mindlessly scrolling through Facebook for updates from friends and colleagues, this favorite source of entertainment can be a real time hog. For the amount of time you spend binge watching a favorite show on TV, you could be doing something else that is worthwhile such as these.

Developing the skills to properly manage your time is more difficult in this modern age than it ever has been before in human history. You are surrounded by opportunities to waste time, drive down productivity, and never actually accomplish anything. With time, however, you can learn to see those time-wasters for what they are and eradicate them from your life before they grow worse.

Are there tasks in your life that suck up valuable time? If so, I would love to hear what they are, so I can feature them in a future blog post!

Image credit: Niewiadomski