How to Stop Wasting Time

Have you ever Googled ‘how to stop wasting time’? It seems to always start with dedicating “x” block of time on these days to do “y”. This method can be effective, but the problem is you never know what your mindset will be moving into that dedicated time.

Maybe you just wrapped up work on an interesting or exciting project? If so, research shows that “attention residue” carries over to your next scheduled project and can distract you because your mind continues to wonder back to the exciting project.

I recently listened to a podcast where Tim Grover, world-renowned coach and bestselling author, was being interviewed and he brought up two great (and surprisingly obvious) points about time management.

  1. We have a finite amount of time and the clock is always against us.
  2. Time management creates distractions.

Is there an alternative to time management?

In this podcast, Grover mentioned the term ‘focus management’. After a little digging, I found that there has been a tremendous amount of research performed on focus management, also referred to as ‘attention management’.

Time tells you to stop, focus says go.

When you force yourself to work in specified time block, the momentum of productivity can be slow to start. This can be due to many things, but incorrect mindset is usually the culprit.

I often find that I’m just starting to catch the groove when my block of time is almost at an end. But when we do find ourselves in the “zone”, we are unstoppable! Everything seems to click during these moments, so the length of time actually spent on the task is almost irrelevant.

Focus blocks distractions.

If we are dialed in and focused on our project, it’s much harder to allow ourselves to be pulled away or distracted. But if we haven’t found our focus, it’s exceptionally easy to fill the time with other activities: scrolling through social media, watching FailArmy on YouTube, or some other mindless time filler which takes us further and further away from being able to develop focus.

How do we shift this mindset?

The next time you have a project, I challenge you to use focus management instead of time management. Avoid scheduling your time, then sitting stumped and going to social media or addressing unrelated emails and exhausting your self-imposed deadline with nothing to show for it.

Evaluate your mindset and ask yourself, ‘Am I in the right space mentally to complete this task?’ and, if not, ‘What can I do to change my current mindset?’. There is a time and a place for everything, so identify when the right time is for you and you’ll be impressed with the results!