The Productivity Institute

Personal Productivity Solutions to Leverage Your Impact


Stop Wasting Time

By: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

Life is often what happens to you along the way when you have planned otherwise because there are time wasters out there to throw you off the track. Your performance may not always match your intentions. To help you to increase your productivity each and every day, both on and off the job, here are five easy tips to overcome the major time wasters to help you to stop wasting time.

  1. Plan Your Day. Set aside time each night for Daily Planning, a time for you to take control of your most important asset, the next twenty-four hours. Create a To Do list with all the things you “have to” do and, more importantly, all the things you “want to” do. Don’t be afraid of putting down too much. A project tends to expand with the time available for it. If you give yourself one thing to do, it will take you all day. If you give yourself two things to do, you will get them both done. If you give yourself twelve things to do, you may not get all twelve done, but you’ll get eight or nine done. Having a lot to do creates a healthy sense of pressure on us to get things done. Prioritize this list. Put the number “1” next to the most important item, “2” beside the next most important item, the number “3” beside the third most important item, etc. People ask me a lot, “Do you do Daily Planning every day?” I reply, “Only if I want to have a good day.”
  2. Control Procrastination. The easiest way to avoid procrastination in your day is to do the Daily Planning each day. Without a plan of action to direct you, you are often drawn to the things that are easier or to the most urgent items that may not be the most important use of your time. You can easily get caught up in “stuff,” wasting time majoring in the minor things, spending your day wheel spinning in the unimportant areas while the important things get put off.
  3. Avoid Interruptions. A problem that is well defined is mostly solved. To define your interruptions situation to permit you to take some preventive actions, run an Interruptions Log. On a pad of paper, log in interruptions as they occur over a few days. Put down who brings them to you, how long each interruption lasts, and whether or not they were valuable or of no value. Once you accumulate your data, get the most frequent interrupters who bring the interruptions with no value to change their actions and agree to not bring as many low value interruptions to you in the future.
  4. Delegate It. If you had unlimited amounts of time, you could do everything yourself, but you don’t. Each week has but 168 hours to get all you need and want to do. I review every item on my To Do list each night in Daily Planning and ask, “Is this the best use of my time?” If it is, I will plan to do it myself and if it’s not, I will try to find a way to delegate it to free up my time for something more valuable. There is a lot of difference between, “I do it,” and “It gets done.” Sure, it’s great to do a variety of things but you have to be sure that your scarce resource is always being spent in the most productive way.
  5. Manage Meetings. Before you commit to attend a meeting with another or with a group, ask yourself two questions. First, “Is it necessary?” Sometimes we go to a meeting solely because we have been invited or because we have always gone out of habit without ascertaining whether or not it truly is necessary. Second, ask yourself, “Am I necessary?” Perhaps the meeting is important but if you don’t contribute anything to it or if you don’t get anything from it, try to find a way to excuse yourself from attending all or a portion of the meeting.

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Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

Certified Executive Coach, Consultant and Trainer
Author, “Organizing Your Life” and “The Productivity Handbook”
Productivity Institute
Personal Productivity Solutions to Leverage Your Impact
127 Jefferson St.
Stratford, CT 06615
(203) 386-8062
(800) 969-3773
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