So, you want to get things done.

The only problem is, there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day.

Yet, if you look at some of the most accomplished people out there, it’s not as though they have more time than you do. They don’t have a time machine either.

This isn’t to say you should compare yourself to them. But it is important to realize that time isn’t the issue. How you use and manage that time is.

Time isn’t the issue. How you use and manage that time is. Click To Tweet

Here, I look at several time wasters that can end up killing your productivity without you even noticing. Ready for this? Let’s get into it!

1. Meetings

Contrary to what you might think, I’m not hating on meetings. When they are necessary, and organized, they can have immense benefits for a business, community, collaboration, or otherwise.

The challenge, of course, is that most meetings aren’t. They don’t have an agenda. They aren’t targeted – so, the whole team shows up when they don’t need to be there. And they aren’t intentional or organized.

Understand that if the people in the meetings don’t even want to be there, and don’t need to be there, they are getting absolutely nothing out of the meeting. You are wasting their productive hours. Interruptions, regardless of when they occur in the day (or week), tend to break concentration and flow.

Interruptions, regardless of when they occur in the day, tend to break concentration and flow. Click To Tweet

In my observation, meetings go counter to how we as humans work, too. We’re expected to pay attention for an hour or two, when we know our brains are bad storage devices for information, and our memories are faulty at best.

If no notetaking happens, then it’s even worse. By the way, the onus is on you if you aren’t taking notes, because that’s about the only way I’ve found to ensure meetings are productive on some level.

If you want to be effective with meetings, have a read through Steve Goldstein’s article on Inc. about how to fix meetings.

2. Scanning the News

To say that the media exaggerates is an understatement. There has been more fearmongering, sensationalism, and propaganda in 2020 than any year I can remember.

Scanning the news isn’t going to change the situation. And for the most part, it just makes media companies richer. They get paid for your attention.

Further, it tends to focus you on the negative. And I don’t care how positive a person you are. Spend enough time watching the news and you will come away with doom and gloom.

Per Sara Lindberg on Verywell Mind:

A constant stream of sensational or “disaster” reporting, whether you are exposed actively or passively, can elevate stress levels and trigger symptoms like anxiety and trouble sleeping.

How do you expect to be at your productive best when you’re constantly stressed and are sleep deprived? It’s simple – You won’t be!

I’m not saying you shouldn’t stay informed. But you might need to balance it out with a healthy dose of positivity.

On the Harvard Business Review, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman say the ideal praise-to-criticism ratio is 5.6 to 1. That means you need five to six times the positivity to balance out the negativity!

If you’re going to watch an hour of news, you’d better be prepared to watch or listen to something inspiring for five to six hours!

If you’re going to watch an hour of news, you’d better be prepared to watch or listen to something inspiring for five to six hours! Click To Tweet

3. Social Media

Author Dr. Joe Dispenza says we often begin our days in the same manner – by checking our phones, reminding ourselves of who we are. And then we expect to have a different day than we did yesterday, when we’ve just gone through the process or reminding ourselves and reinforcing who we think we are.

They say today is mutually exclusive from yesterday, but that’s not necessarily true when you go through the same morning ritual of comparing yourself to others, taking note of what they have that you don’t, feeling inferior, and so on. Your experience of today will be much the same unless you adopt new rituals.

I have known this for years, so it’s not news to me, but documentaries like The Social Dilemma have been making the public aware of the ill effects of social media. It’s been designed to be addicting. And big tech companies have endless data points on us to where they might know us better than our best friends.

The issue about fake news, however, is grossly misleading. By pointing to an extreme example like flat earth, they oversimplify a rather complicated issue. Because frankly I’ve seen more fake news from the likes of The New York Times, CNN, BBC, and so on, this year than ever.

Regardless, the core of it is this:

Social media makes you feel like the hero of your own story. So, it trains you to be selfish. And when things don’t go your way, you compare yourself to others and feel bad about yourself. When you feel bad about yourself, you want to buy something to solve your problem. And guess what’s right there on social media? Products for you to buy.

I’m not saying don’t use social media. I’m saying, if you can, use it wisely.

4. Smartphone Notifications

Does your phone constantly buzz or chime? And do you find yourself checking every time it does?

Like social media, smartphones have been created to be addicting. And the worst part is that they are addictive in all the wrong ways.

You’ve got all your vices right there – social media, news, email, texts… And if that wasn’t bad enough, you can download games and other distracting apps.

We’ve all got smartphones, so I’m not suggesting you toss yours. But here’s a suggestion you may find useful:

Turn off all notifications. Yes. All of them.

Creative work requires concentration, and every time you break it, it takes a little over 23 minutes for you to recover it, according to Blake Thorne on I Done This Blog.

Creative work requires concentration, and every time you break it, it takes a little over 23 minutes for you to recover it. Click To Tweet

If you turn notifications off, your phone won’t be constantly vibrating or notifying you of new messages and notifications. Then you can check your phone when you want, on your own terms. It’s quite empowering.

Don’t let your smartphone rule your life. Turn notifications off and check your phone on your breaks. Trust me, you’ll have more than enough time for texts, voicemails, and so forth.

Don’t let your smartphone rule your life. Click To Tweet

Time Wasters, Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, what might be a time waster for me might not be a time waster for you. And vice versa. So, it’s a little subjective. You’ve got to look at this in consideration of your work and goals.

If you’re a social media manager, for instance, spending time on social media is not a waste of time. It’s your job!

Still, I hope you found the above helpful, and you’re able to get more of the right things done as a creative or creator. After all, it’s not just about getting more done. It’s about getting more of the right things done.

Are there any time wasters I’ve missed? What are your best productivity tips?

Let me know in the comments.

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From: David Andrew Wiebe
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