Effective Time Management: Identifying and Correcting Time Wasters

30 Oct, 2022 | Read in 7 minutes

There are a lot of distractions that can steal your time. Learn where you spend your time, and how to manage your time in the most effective way.


48 years ago, Benjamin Franklin said that time is money. It’s a quote that couldn't ring more true in today's society. In fact, we all often say, "I wish I had the time to ..."

But is it true that we don't have time? Or many time wasters sneaking unnoticed right under your nose? When you're not sure, it's time to pay attention. About 31% of employees waste their time for 30 minutes a day. Lots of talk about unnecessary things, like what's popular on social media, the internet or dinner.

When you have a target, the mind scampers to find time to work on it. At first thought, you are trying to free up large chunks of your schedule to carry out the tasks you want. But now, everyone has a day full of activities. Employees are full of meeting agendas, while business owners have much business to manage. Therefore, freeing up 2-3 hours daily when your target is too complex is heavy.

But what if you freed up a little time during the day? For example, if you want an extra hour to set up your small business, which of these options seems easier?

  • Find an hour to spare in a day
  • Free up 3-4 blocks of 15-20 minutes

If you are someone with a busy schedule, the second option seems easier, right? This article will teach us about common and hidden time wasters and how to identify time wasters.

The definition of a time waster

A time waster is anything that takes time from an activity that needs to be completed. They draw focus, so you quickly lose track of time while doing them. Time wasters are different for everyone.

Time wasters can be carefully scheduled like a knife through butter. What's more, you will be easily stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated. Time wasters can take many shapes, such as meetings, locations, environments, projects, activities and even people. There are two categories of time wasters: obvious and hidden.

Obvious time wasters

Obvious time wasters are the easiest to identify. Even if you don't consciously think about it, you know they're. Let's call this annoying because things that should be done quickly but end up losing track of time.

One obvious time waster is social media. Social media has a lot of exciting things, such as popular information or about activities done by family, friends and favourite brands. Identifying obvious time wasters is easy because they are activities we often do, and we notice we have lost track of time.

Hidden time wasters

Unlike obvious time wasters, hidden time wasters are hard to spot. They often transform into a part that sometimes helps in a process, but unconsciously, this step takes longer.

For example, when you are going to organise your wardrobe. If you are looking for specific information, such as how to manage your closet neatly, then it will help. But if you spend time reading about the types of adjustable cabinets or shelves that are suitable for closets, it doesn't help. These time wasters are really hard to spot and sometimes need someone else's help to show us.

As you go through the day during the week, pay attention to your unplanned activities. Does the activity take longer? Or is it just a waste of time?

How to identify time wasters

The best way to identify time wasters is to note how you spend your day in the two weeks. This method is called a time log.

Keep a notepad with you all day. Record the details of the activity from the first time you wake up until the end. After waking up in the morning, do you do your morning routine or just check social media? Be honest with yourself. The more transparent the information you write, the easier it will be to see the time wasters.

For example, when you are cooking, try noting what time you start and end it. Details include how long it takes to slice vegetables or arrange ready-made dishes.

Employees can also use time management applications to track work time every day. Make it as detailed as possible as to how long you spend lunch. It might need some extra work, but trust me, it's worth it. Recording activity details makes it easier to identify time wasters.

What to do next?

Once you know the culprits of the time wasters, you have two choices: to avoid them or try to work with them.

When you pay attention, avoiding it is the easiest option because you don't need planning. But this choice also has an unpleasant side. Sometimes, time wasters are things that make us happy and excited. So, the rational choice is to work with the time wasters. Of course, you need planning so you don't get caught up in it.

1. Be specific

Specific is the primary weapon against hidden time wasters. When you create a to-do list, specify what needs to be completed. For example, when cooking, schedule details must contain what steps you take, such as cutting ingredients, viewing recipes, washing ingredients, processing spices, etc. Usually, some people spend a lot of time reading recipes. Therefore, give specific time limits on these steps.

2. Ensure tasks support your goals

The second stage to prevent wasting time is determining whether activities align with the target. Try to look at a wider scope to determine whether the activity is aligned with the target. Time wasters can sneak in and sneak into your schedule when you don't have a clear goal.

5 most common time wasters

Once again, we know that time wasters are everywhere, including the workplace and home. Here are the most common time wasters that rob your productivity.

1. Waking-up activities

How long is the transition from waking up to carrying out the first activity? Are you doing your morning routine or going back to bed? These activities are time wasters since waking up:

  • Rolling over in bed for 30 minutes
  • Surfing the internet in bed
  • Snooze alarm too often
  • Lazing to daydream

How to fix it?

Observe your actions from when the alarm goes off to the day's first activity. You will know which time is running slow if you are aware enough. Identify the biggest obstacles that take up your time. Then eliminate those unnecessary activities.

2. Short breaks turning long

We are not machines. Everyone needs rest. The brain needs to breathe and take time not to think. But how long is the right time to take a break?

For example, you are a programmer. After resolving one error for 90 minutes, you need a break. You go to the office pantry to brew coffee and socialise with your friends. Unknowingly, 60 minutes had passed to chat. Of course, you don't need 60 minutes to rest after 90 hours of work.

How to fix it:

Socialising is important, but the problem that needs to be solved is a waste of time. Resting 20-30 is more than enough for a 90-minute work duration. So pay attention to the duration of your break.

3. Checking emails

Email is the most obvious distraction at work. Reading emails is essential, but do you have to spend the whole day? The answer is, of course, NO.

How to fix it:

Don't leave email open on your computer or laptop. Turn off email notifications on your phone. Try creating a schedule or block to respond to incoming emails.

4. Unnecessary meetings

The fact is that not all meetings are productive. Even some may just be a waste of time. According to research, 67% of employees say too many meetings hinder their productivity.

How to fix it:

Instead of holding meetings that are too frequent and unproductive, try these tips:

  • Create discussion points before the meeting so that the meeting becomes productive.
  • Only have meetings when necessary.
  • Set a time limit for the meeting.
  • Create boundaries so you stay focused on the topic.

5. Online distractions

Online distractions are the main enemy of remote workers. Minor distractions like watching online videos, checking social media or browsing can easily waste your time.

How to fix it:

Try tracking work time using a time management app to avoid online distractions. Limiting distractions and setting aside time for rest can help you increase your productivity and focus.


If you have a habit of wasting time, don't kick yourself. We all have flaws in time management, and that's okay. We just need to hone our time management skills and do self-evaluation more often. And try to be honest when evaluating. It will not be instant, but hard work will pay off.

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