How to Stop Wasting Time and Start Living Purposefully

If you start your day with intention, it means you are being proactive.

You intend to do a workout, improve your knowledge, and are certain about what tasks you will do that day. 

You don’t allow events outside your control to affect your mood and you avoid pointless debates about politics, current affairs, or celebrity gossip.

But if you do not have a plan for the day, you are going to be in a reactive state.

If you have been procrastinating on your tasks, you know how hard it is to live with the frustration and guilt that comes at the end of the day. 

You want to do so many things, but then you are either passing time on social media or “googling” unimportant stuff, convincing your brain that you are doing some important things.

And when the day ends, you realize you wasted so much time and make a promise to yourself that you will not waste time anymore. It can seem like a vicious cycle. 

If you are here reading this post, I know that you value your time and are guilty of wasting it. 

You want to do useful and productive things with your time to achieve your goals sooner. 

When you learn to manage your time well, you excel at your work and thus earn more money, have personal satisfaction, and have more time for hobbies and personal life, leading to more happiness and contentment. 

Time is the biggest asset in your life. 

Time is non-renewable and once you lose it, no matter what you are not going to get it back. 

So how we can stop wasting the precious time we have and live each day well? 

Here are some of the most effective ways to manage your time well from someone who has been there. 

10 effective ways to stop wasting time and start doing more

1. Find out why you waste time and procrastinate

As the first step, If you are a procrastinator, you have to analyze why you have the habit. It helps to ask the following questions. 

  • Do you dread something in your job? If yes, what is it? Is it possible to split the task into smaller subtasks?
  • Are you being lazy?
  • Or is it because you are physically/mentally tired?
  • Do you lack a proper direction in life?
  • Or is it because you are afraid of failure?

Find out the reason why you are wasting time and try to solve the problem from the root. Write down your problems and identify how you can take the steps to get more control of your time. 

When you write down and take the appropriate action measures, you will have half the problem solved. Now you need to learn how to use the 24 hours you have effectively with the action measures you have decided to take. 

Please don’t skip this step, as trying to understand why you procrastinate is important to break the habit of wasting time. 

2. Identify Time Wasters

To stop wasting time, it’s essential to recognize the most common time-wasting activities and reflect on your habits and tendencies.

Here are some tips for identifying and eliminating time wasters from your life.

Common Time-Wasting Activities

Certain habitual activities tend to consume a large chunk of our time without adding much value. Some examples include:

  • Browsing social media
  • Watching television
  • Mindlessly scrolling through the internet
  • Watching YouTuve videos
  • Procrastination
  • Online shopping
  • Gossiping

Take some time to sincerely analyze your day-to-day routine and identify such activities that are unproductive or distracting.

Related: 45 productive things to do instead of social media

how to stop wasting time - not use social media

Reflect on Personal Habits and Tendencies

Everyone has a unique set of habits and tendencies that can contribute to wasted time. Be honest with yourself and think about how your tendencies lead to unproductive periods.

Evaluate how you spend your days by tracking your activities in a day. You can use a simple Excel sheet for this or use apps that help to track your activities in a day.

Identifying and understanding your habits and tendencies is key to stopping time wastage. Start by tracking your daily activities for about a week. 

Reflect on questions like:

  1. What tasks do I procrastinate on the most?
  2. When am I most likely to get distracted?
  3. Which activities do I turn to when I want a break or feel overwhelmed?

Awareness of your habits will greatly help in curbing them and finding alternative solutions for the situations that trigger them.

Tips for Eliminating or Minimizing Time Wasters

After identifying the potential causes of time wastage in your life, consider following these tips to help you minimize or eliminate them:

  • Set specific goals: Establish clear objectives for each day or week and schedule your tasks accordingly.
  • Use time management techniques: Methods like Pomodoro and time blocking can assist you in staying focused and completing your tasks efficiently. It also allows you to take a short break in between the focus sessions. 
  • Set boundaries: Set time limits for social media or other distractions by using apps or browser extensions to block them during work hours.
  • Take structured breaks: Allow yourself short, scheduled breaks to recharge and prevent burnout. This will also help resist the temptation to engage in time-wasting activities.
  • Prioritize: Rank your tasks by importance and tackle them accordingly. This helps you avoid getting bogged down by trivial matters.

Related: 45 productive things to do instead of social media

3. Have a set of goals that motivate you 

Do you have a dream? Or a purpose in life that gets you excited to live? To not waste time and get excited each day, you need to define your life goal. 

If you lack this, and you are just living automatically working a job you hate, or if you are making decisions that please other people, then it’s natural to feel demotivated every day. 

Take a journal and map out your ideal life by writing down the goals you want to achieve in each area of your life like – health, career, relationships, and hobbies. 

Write down the top 5 goals you want to achieve in each area. 

Now that, you have a vision, think about how you can organize your days/weeks to accommodate the work you need to do to achieve all these goals. 

4. Set deadlines

The best way to not waste time and use each day wisely is to set self-defined deadlines for each of our goals. 

For example, if you have a goal of earning $10,000 per month, assuming you know the steps to reach the goal, set a deadline for it. 

When you don’t have a deadline, you feel like it can be done anytime. That’s when you tend to procrastinate on your tasks whenever you feel unmotivated.

And no human can stay motivated every day. But it’s the goals we set that help us to stay on track despite feeling unmotivated and consistent. 

But when you set a deadline and declare it (to other people or yourself by writing it down), it suddenly creates a sense of urgency. 

The best goal-setting method I love is the 90-day goal-setting.

In this method, you first select a goal. 

Then divide it into smaller goals that you can achieve quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily. 

I love setting 90-day goals because it is like a smaller milestone you need to achieve on the way to your big goal.

Since it is a smaller version of your big goal, and it will be achievable shortly, it would feel easier and the sense of urgency gives you the motivation to finish the daily tasks on time. 

Often people procrastinate on big projects because it seems like an enormous task and they don’t know where to start.

But when you break it down into smaller tasks and set a date in the near future as a deadline (like after 90 days), you start getting clarity and now they look doable. 

I don’t believe in saying that we should set realistic goals. I mean realistic is relative.

What I believe is anyone can achieve almost anything they set their mind upon.

But I have burned out myself many times by setting unrealistic “daily goals”. You can have an ultimate big end goal, but make sure you set a “realistic daily goal” by calculating the time required for specific tasks. 

how to stop wasting time - set goals

5. Start your day with intention

A successful day starts the day before. 

For me, the right planning of days has always helped in have productive days. 

The way you start your day is important. And from my experience, planning the night before is always better than waking up in the morning and listing your to-dos.

When you plan the night before and have a to-do list for the next day, it helps you to start doing your tasks as soon as you wake up without wasting any time, rather than thinking about what to do first.

Or fall into the trap of using your phone and be distracted by the dopamine rush. 

And what has helped me a ton is the “time-blocking method”. 

I block every hour of the day for the most important tasks for the day and I make sure I set some time aside for screen time breaks in between so that, I don’t feel burned out by doing productive tasks only.

But make sure you return to your work or study-related tasks after the screen time breaks, or whatever self-care break you are taking for yourself. 

I would suggest listing down your activities for the week on a Sunday so you know what all tasks and events are coming up for you in the upcoming week and so you can plan each day intentionally. 

Next, let’s see how to plan and make a schedule for each day.

6. Schedule each day’s activities

Having a daily schedule will help a ton in not to waste time. When you plan your days, identify the top 3 tasks for each day. 

These 3 tasks are the ones that should be done in a day no matter what and should be given high priority. These 3 daily high-priority tasks will ensure that you get closer to your goals daily without wasting any precious time. 

On some days, you don’t have 3 tasks and you might have just 2 important things to do. The number doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have blocked your time in the day for that. 

We are human beings and sometimes our plans get derailed and unexpected things can come up. So if something happens in the morning, don’t think that you lost a day, and waste the rest of the day too.

The way you start your mornings indeed sets the tone for the day. It is true for most people. But sometimes urgent matters can come up in the morning. 

What you can do is, divide your day into 4 time blocks – morning, midday, afternoon, and evening. 

Schedule your top 3 tasks in the most productive time zone. Your most productive time is when you are the most focused and energetic. You can also do hourly planning to make sure you don’t waste time. 

So, if you can’t get your productive work done in the morning, schedule it for the next possible time block.

Your energy levels are different throughout the day. If you get only the evening block, if you can do some low-energy productive tasks, you can do that. 

For example, if you are a student, you can finish writing your pending notes. Or if you are an adult, you can declutter a small space, so that you can wake up to a clean space the next day. 

So don’t waste an entire day if you can’t start it according to your plans. Make use of the next time block.

When you schedule your days this way, you will have small wins every day. 

It is proof to your brain that you can manage time effectively and have a productive day. The beauty of habits is that once you taste the results, you will crave more. 

So slowly. You will get into the habit of having productive days and stop wasting time. 

how to stop wasting time and be more productive- today's plans

7. Do daily reviews

This hack will help you stop wasting time, I guarantee.

When I was feeling disappointed day after day for wasting my time, I started doing daily reviews.

It helped me figure out where I was wasting time each day and which activities I could cut down on to get extra time.

Have a set time in your day for doing the daily review. It helps to evaluate the biggest time wasters and helps you focus on the right things to do. 

By the way, I don’t do daily reviews if I don’t need to. If I have had a good productive day and if I were able to do all or almost all of my morning and evening routines, I would consider that day a win, and probably not do a daily review.

But I will keep in mind how I won the day so that I can replicate the results.

But when you are setting up a new routine by eliminating time-wasting habits, a daily review can help to build that routine.

I have set up a template on Notion (any other Notion lovers here?), that populates the daily review questions automatically whenever I create a new daily review page. 

These are some of the questions I ask myself in a daily review session:

  • Top accomplishments of the day (self-appreciation is important)
  • Failures of the day
  • What can I improve for tomorrow
  • My thoughts (this is a space to journal my daily thoughts on my wins and failures, and how the day went by)

8. Utilize productivity techniques

Time management systems and apps can be a lifesaver when it comes to staying organized and efficient.

Consider exploring different options such as TrelloTodoist, or Google Calendar to help keep track of tasks and deadlines.

Tailor these tools to your specific needs, ensuring that you can easily maintain your schedule.

An effective technique to help boost productivity is the Pomodoro Technique. This method involves breaking your work into smaller, manageable intervals—typically 25 minutes long—called Pomodoros with short breaks in between.

After four Pomodoros, take an extended break. By splitting your tasks into focused bursts, you can maintain high levels of concentration and prevent burnout. To implement this technique, try using timers or dedicated Pomodoro apps.

I don’t use Pomodoro techniques every time I sit down to work.

But I use it on the days when I am not able to focus. This is an effective method if you struggle with distractions that lead to poor work performance. 

It’s essential to minimize distractions to maintain focus and productivity. Here are some tips for staying on track:

  • Establish a designated workspace: Keep your workspace clean and organized, with all necessary materials within reach. This signals to your brain that it’s time for focused work.
  • Set concrete goals: Break your tasks into smaller subtasks, making them more manageable and less overwhelming. Check off completed tasks to foster a sense of accomplishment and progress.
  • Prioritize tasks: Determine which tasks are most critical and tackle those first. Delegate or postpone less urgent tasks to maintain momentum on what’s essential.
  • Limit exposure to distractions: Turn off notifications on your devices, or consider using apps that block distracting websites and social media platforms. Set specific times for checking emails and messages to avoid constant interruptions.

By employing these productivity techniques, you can make the most of your time and increase your efficiency in completing tasks.

Remember that knowing when to take breaks is just as crucial as maintaining focus. A healthy balance is the key to learning to have quality time for yourself and for the productive work you want to do. 

how to stop wasting time and be more productive- use Pomodoro timer

9. Create a consistent and sustainable routine

A key aspect of time management is consistency. You need to create a daily routine that works well for your lifestyle and work habits.

By establishing a consistent schedule, you’ll find it easier to stay on track, reducing distractions and wasted time.

Consistency in your routine helps create discipline and maintains progress in the long run.

Establish daily and weekly routines

Start by setting your usual wake-up and sleep times, ensuring you have 7-9 hours of sleep.

Create a morning routine to set the tone for the day. This might include exercise, meditation, breakfast, and going through your to-do list for the day.

When you create your routines, don’t forget to schedule time for exercise, meals, and socializing. It’s important to maintain a work-life balance.

Tips for staying motivated and accountable with your routines

  1. Set clear and achievable goals: Break your long-term goals into smaller, manageable tasks that you can complete on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
  2. Track your progress: Use tools like a planner, calendar, or time-tracking apps to monitor your progress and identify areas for improvement.
  3. Accountability partners: Share your goals with a trusted friend, family member, or colleague. Regular check-ins can help you stay motivated and on track.
  4. Prioritize self-care: Give yourself permission to take breaks, engage in hobbies, and spend time with loved ones to ensure your routine remains sustainable.
  5. Adapt as necessary: Your routine should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and unexpected events. Be willing to re-evaluate your schedule and make adjustments as needed.

Remember, it takes time to form a new habit, so stay patient, persistent, and focused on your goals.

Related: Why weekly planning is a surefire way to increase your productivity

how to stop wasting time and be more productive- healthy lifestyle

10. Manage your energy

If you want to stop wasting time, focus on increasing your energy. If you wonder what’s the correlation, read on.

First thing in the morning, try doing at least 20-30 minutes of exercise.

It’s a simple habit and an easy one to skip, but the effect it can have on the rest of your day is enormous. 

 You will have more energy and you will be so productive that you can do your tasks in less time than usual and you end up saving a lot of time.  

Exercise is considered a cornerstone habit. A cornerstone habit influences all other habits. 

This one simple habit can start a chain reaction of a series of other good habits like eating healthier throughout the day, not wanting to smoke, cleaning your room, etc. 

 It’s not a coincidence that successful CEOs and other people choose to do exercise as part of their morning routine. 

 So invest in healthy lifestyle choices and improve your energy levels. This will give a boost to your productivity levels too. 

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