I have a wall clock hanging in the main room of my house. The clock was custom made as given as a gift for my graduation from college. It’s an elegantly framed computer keyboard (on the bottom, and on the top is a centered clock fixture, on the right side is a small brass abacus, and on the right is a small printed circuit board. Behind the clock fixture is inscribed on a brass plate, “Time is Money”. It fetches lots of great reactions, but its message is singular.

We’re all familiar with this saying, and I think we intrinsically understand it without a detailed explanation. However, I think we often fail to apply logic in correlation with this understanding (me included). Here are a few things that we commonly waste time with, that if changed, will win back precious time, reduce frustration, increase focus and ultimately increase the amount of money we can earn.

  • Checking email too frequently. Since I manage a server, I get stats on how many time/day people check their emails. Some check in excess of 50 times/day. That seems very excessive. Obsessing about email in itself can waste a lot of time as your mind if constantly task switching to think about email. Even if the excessive number of email checks is automated, the time to open your email program clear your junk mail, and look at mail, takes precious minutes. But more than the minutes it takes to actually check – its the task switching that is expensive. After task switching, it can take up to 15 minutes to mentally get back into what you were doing. I’ve heard some people suggest that email checking be deferred to as little as once a week. I have tried going down to once/day. Honestly, there has never been an urgent situation that was hurt by that. However since trying that, I’ve slipped back into more frequent email checking – a time waster I should change again!
  • Reading “forwarded emails” aka “junk mail” from family and friends. I get about 5-10 forwarded emails every day from family and friends who think I’d like to read or see this latest comical video, story or shocking report. In reality, these are usually disappointing and waste a lot of my time. In fact, just about 100% of the “shocking reports” I get are urban legends, which I then waste even more time in an altruistic effort to stop the spam and reply to everyone on the cc list explaining how it is not true with the accompanying snopes.com explanation.
  • Watching TV. Enough said.
  • Not planning grocery shopping (or other shopping). Once you get home from shopping, you remember, “Oh I wanted item X also.” Then you go back out the next day. This process continues and at the end of the week, you may find you’ve gone grocery shopping maybe 4-5+ times. What a pure waste of time that a little planning could help avoid.

What are some of your favorite time wasting activities that should be discontinued?