• Dr. Lillian Nejad

Are you wasting your time?


You know we have it pretty good, our life expectancy is over 80 in Australia (81.2 to be exact) and we tend to take it for granted. The fact is our time here is finite and we already spend over half of our life sleeping, eating and working. Over half! How do you want to spend the time you have left?

Wasting time is a lifeblocker because it gets in the way of pursuing your true goals and desires. So we why do you voluntarily participate in these self-defeating time-sucking behaviors? You have your reasons of course, but whatever benefits you may glean from these activities, they are heavily outweighed by the chronic states of procrastination and inertia they foster.


Here are some examples of time-wasting activities, any of these ring a bell?:


Candy Crush

Total lifeblocker. The most popular games app is causing hoards of men and women to mindlessly whittle the minutes away, minutes that turn into hours—hours that could be spent doing something productive, creative or worthwhile. But hey—we made it to level 578—so that’s something. Next time you feel the urge to crush candy, instead spend it on calculating the time you have already spent playing. Let’s say you did reach level 578; at 10 minutes per level (a conservative estimate), you have spent 96 hours on Candy Crush. Four entire days! Is this what you wanted for yourself??? Are you kicking yourself right now? Kick the Candy Crush habit instead.


Reality Television On average, people watch 2.8 hours of television per day, and increasingly, reality television has taken center stage. We spend our time either cringing at others’ awkward, socially inappropriate behavior or fantasizing about leading their decadent life of fame and fortune. Not all reality TV lacks value but any way you look at it, you are spending your time watching other people live. So the next time you want to turn on The Kardashians, Pawn Stars, or any of the Housewives…ask yourself, would you rather watch a life worth living or live a life worth watching?


Online shopping Hours can go by when you’re caught up with this lifeblocker. Not only is online shopping time-consuming, but it can break the bank! It’s easy to get on your phone or laptop and check out the latest sales or the best deals, and it can sometimes be a cost-effective and efficient way to shop. But take notice of how much time (and money) you are investing and whether you could be doing something else with your time that may lead to more satisfaction, and perhaps less guilt.


Identify and eliminate your time-wasting lifeblockers using the following five steps:


1. Identify Your Lifeblockers: Chances are you already know what they are, but just to make sure, it is worth doing an “Activity Diary” for one week, write down what you are spending time on and for how long. Or, if most of your time-wasting activities are on your phone, you can track the exact number of hours per day that you are spending on each app—believe me, you will be shocked by the number of hours you are spending on games and on social platforms! Next, separate what you have to do from what you choose to do. Now target the behaviors that are preventing you from pursuing your goals or taking up too much time.


2. Do Some Soul-Searching: We almost always have a reason for doing something. It is important to figure out what it is before you attempt to change your behavior. Ask yourself what needs your time-wasters are fulfilling. Are they ways to avoid, procrastinate, relax, distract, relieve anxiety, or have they just become habits that are difficult to break?


3. Ascertain your values and goals: Think about what you want to do with your life and how you want to live it. Ask yourself the following questions:


· “What drives me?”

· “What makes me excited to get out of bed?”

· “What do I keep saying I don’t have time for?”

· “What do I keep wishing I could do?”

· “What would I like to achieve?”

· “What is important to me?”

· “What do I love?”

· “What do I enjoy?”


Use your answers to make a list of your short-term and long-term dreams, goals and desires.


4. Make a Decision: Now you can make an informed choice to keep doing what you are doing, or to make some changes in your life. You may find that you don’t need to eliminate your lifeblockers entirely, but to limit the amount of time you are spending on them. Make a list of pros and cons for eliminating or reducing your time-wasting behaviours. More pros than cons are a sign that you are more likely to make a change successfully. Write your decision down and make a commitment to change by setting a date and telling someone important to you about your plans.


5. Take Action: Eliminate (or reduce) the behavior but make sure that you have another behavior to replace it with, preferably one that is working toward your goals. Remember that changing any behavior is a challenge and there will be setbacks. Take them in stride as part of the pathway to change and re-commit to eliminating your lifeblockers again and again.


Remember:


"Lost time is never found again."

Benjamin Franklin

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