No More Wasting Time – Even If You’re A Total Dosser

July 23, 2010

If you could capture time in a bottle, it would outsell Chanel No.5. But until some smart ass comes up with a way to do it, what you do with your time is down to you. And it’s a whole lot easier if you force yourself to justify every minute spent, then there’s no more wasting time.

If you work 70 hours a week, you might wonder who the hell I am to accuse you of being a time waster. But I’ve been there myself and I bet you don’t work half as hard as you think you do.

The truth is, if you can’t bring yourself to track every second you spend working, you’re probably frittering time away. And while that doesn’t make you a complete dosser, you may be losing several hours a week.

I’ve wasted more time than I care to remember. But it didn’t even seem like I was wasting time – it felt like bloody hard work. And when it comes to time management, I still have my weaknesses, but I’m working on them.

If I didn’t discipline myself, I would struggle to get things done. And I won’t pretend it’s easy to begin with but once you kick yourself up the butt and get on with it, taking control of your time becomes a habit.

A Few Tips I’ve Found Useful To Stop Wasting Time

1. Always use a “To Do list” and prioritize your tasks in order of importance. You should never allow yourself to move onto a less important task, until you’ve completed the priority jobs. I use a word document to do this but if you’re a tech geek, you can use a free online service like Toggl.

2. Time how long it takes you to do each task. Then when you’ve completed it, write down any problems or interruptions that slowed you down. This will help you identify areas where you’re seriously piddling your time away.

3. If you constantly put off certain types of task, be honest with yourself and try to work out why. There’s always a reason and if you can figure out what it is, it will be easier to find a way to motivate yourself.

4. Get up early and try to get yourself into a proper sleep pattern. If your working hours become irregular, you’ll waste a lot of time.

5. Make sure you have everything you need in front of you, before you begin a task. That way, you don’t waste time trying to find things and you’re not tempted to put the task off because you don’t have all the resources you need.

6. Be realistic about how much work you can do in a day. If you struggle to complete your “To Do” list, you’ll become overwhelmed and may be tempted to stop using it altogether.

7. If you usually multi-task, knock it on the head. I used to think it was a great way to get things done, but in reality, it gets you into a muddle and you wind up with a pile of half finished projects.

8. Don’t let yourself get side-tracked. It’s all too easy to take a quick break to check your email, or see which Twits are on Twitter. And before you realise it, you’ve frittered away an hour.

9. If you use Gmail, make time to set up filters. I was becoming so overwhelmed by junk email, I couldn’t bear to look at my inbox. Now, if I get stuff that I don’t want to receive, I set a filter to automatically delete email from that address.

10. Break large projects down into manageable chunks and set a deadline for completion of the whole task.

11. Be honest with yourself about which jobs are important. Does a particular task need to be done right now, or did you add it to your list to avoid doing more important things?

12. Get into the habit of keeping nothing on your desk but the things you need for one task. Then when you’ve completed it, put those things away.

13. Work towards being able to delegate some of your work, or outsource some of the things that don’t need to be done by you. And don’t flatter yourself – most things can be done by someone else.

14. If you have staff, once you’ve managed to get a grip of your own time management, teach them how to do it and make sure they know it’s part of their job. That way, there will be no more wasting time in your business.

Related Reading

Social Networking: Rethinking Productivity
Time Management For Muppets
Stop F…ing About: Time Management Tips For Internet Startups
What Happened To All The Time Saving?

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23 Responses to “No More Wasting Time – Even If You’re A Total Dosser”

  1. Betsy Wuebker on July 23rd, 2010 1:07 pm

    Hi Cath – Now I need to look up two things: what a “dosser” is, and how to set the gmail filters you mentioned. You’re right, a lot of time is wasted by people who think they’re being productive when they’re really just busying themselves with stuff that doesn’t ultimately matter.
    Betsy Wuebker\’s latest awesome post..Knowing What We Know NowMy ComLuv Profile

  2. Mike on July 23rd, 2010 2:24 pm

    When I was working, one of the most important things I tried to do was to work on what was really important. A lot of the other stuff that seemed important — or that was important to the supervisor that day — were actually time wasters. I know that my boss wasn’t always happy with me, but he must not have any hard feelings since he keeps having me come back on short term contracts.
    Mike\’s latest awesome post..On to IdahoMy ComLuv Profile

  3. Joshua Black | The Underdog Millionaire on July 23rd, 2010 3:45 pm

    Hi Cath,

    Just stopping by to continue the conversation. I am a huge fan of number 7. It has been shown countless times the multi-tasking actually is far less productive than doing one thing until it’s done.

    …now if I could just get myself to stop multi-tasking that would be great.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire
    Joshua Black | The Underdog Millionaire\’s latest awesome post..Lesson From US Government Shows That Traditional Product Launches Are Bad For BusinessMy ComLuv Profile

  4. Alien Ghost on July 23rd, 2010 5:23 pm

    Hi Cath,

    Ouch! There are several of those points I need to work on, if I only had the time! :)

    Sport utility vehicle consume lots of gasoline and are not Earth friendly; we consume a lot of time which is not “Life” friendly.

    Thank you for posting these points, we can (and should) always improve our time management skills :)

    Alien Ghost\’s latest awesome post..SimplicityMy ComLuv Profile

  5. Friar on July 23rd, 2010 7:20 pm

    What Betty said.

    I have no idea what a “Dosser” is.

    You guys across the poind…can’t you speak English? :-)

  6. vered | blogger for hire on July 23rd, 2010 8:46 pm

    I couldn’t possibly run my business, or my life, without a to-do list!
    vered | blogger for hire\’s latest awesome post..Why Do You Like MeMy ComLuv Profile

  7. Tracy on July 24th, 2010 1:30 am

    15 – Don’t think “Hey, how hard could it really be to work from home with all five kids running around?” You will waste a lot of time crying.

    I did learn something very important – I am not a night owl, I need quiet time in the morning to work my best. Things that would take 30 minutes in the morning take 3 times as long as night because my focus is poor. Part time daycare is the best investment I could make in my business right now.

  8. Hilary on July 24th, 2010 6:23 am

    Hi Cath .. I love your approach .. Social Media is definitely something that needs a sensible approach. I haven’t heard of Togg .. and will look .

    I know what a dosser is … I’m lucky I’m across the pond and down south .. a down and out, a fool .. an idiot ..- sometimes there are advantages to being in Britain!

    Have you heard of Evernote?

    Cheers Cath .. I focus in the morning .. sometimes I need to put things away and clear a space and mental space and then concentrate on that subject for a while .. then I can mull it through .. if I’m planning something ..

    Have a good weekend .. Hilary
    Hilary\’s latest awesome post..Could this be a sitcom – or a break out sitcom Ever had a one word – at a time – conversation Fish and Chips – how do you spell itMy ComLuv Profile

  9. Tweets that mention No More Wasting Time - Even If You're A Total Dosser | Catherine Lawson -- on July 24th, 2010 7:09 am

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vered DeLeeuw, Cenusa de Trandafir. Cenusa de Trandafir said: No more wasting time – Even if you're a total dosser [...]

  10. cathlawson on July 24th, 2010 8:04 am

    LOL Betsy – I like teaching people new words almost as much as I enjoy writing. Dosser has so many meanings but in this context I mean what Hilary said – down and out, bumb, idle git, deadbeat.

    Gmail filters have been my saviour lately. You just put a tick by the emails you want, then select more actions, then select filter messages like these. You can mark them to be deleted immediately, or you can add labels for emails from particular addresses – eg. travel, work, friends etc. It’s awesome.

  11. cathlawson on July 24th, 2010 8:07 am

    Hi Mike – It worked, you didn’t wind up in Askimet. I bet it’s because you have more than 1 blog. Your way of working was smart. Too many people waste time on stuff that doesn’t need to be done. Your short term contract set up is awesome – it’s a great way of working and getting to travel too.

  12. cathlawson on July 24th, 2010 8:08 am

    Hi Joshua – Thanks for dropping by. I’m glad I found your blog – I loved your recent post. It’s hard to give up the multi-tasking habit but it’s worth it.

  13. cathlawson on July 24th, 2010 8:09 am

    Hi Raul, LOL. I love how you compare SUV’s to people.

  14. cathlawson on July 24th, 2010 8:11 am

    LOL Friar. It’s a bum, down and out, dead beat, idle git, loafer etc. There are other meanings too. I hope you are going to use these words on your Canadian friends.

  15. cathlawson on July 24th, 2010 8:12 am

    Hi Vered – Me neither – my short term memory is bad.

  16. cathlawson on July 24th, 2010 8:15 am

    Hi Tracy – It’s bad enough with 2 – never mind 5. Like you, once I had kids I realised I wasn’t a night owl. As you say, it’s much faster to get things done in the morning – preferably long before everyone wakes up. It sounds like part-time day care would be a good idea for you. You might be a little out of pocket at first but you’ll soon find yourself getting more work done.

  17. cathlawson on July 24th, 2010 8:18 am

    Toggl is quite handy. I’ve just started trialing it. I’ve heard Evernote mentioned but I didn’t check it out yet. I’ll take a look. Mornings are a good time to think and plan – it seems much easier to concentrate at that time..

  18. Renae Pelo on July 24th, 2010 6:27 pm

    I couldn’t get along without my to-do list. I make it the night before so I can start the day on task. I like you list a lot. I will be working on it. Thanks much.

  19. Cath Lawson on July 24th, 2010 7:45 pm

    Hi Renae – Thanks. I’m glad you like it. I do the same with my list. It’s so much less stressful if you do it the night before.
    Cath Lawson\’s latest awesome post..No More Wasting Time – Even If You’re A Total DosserMy ComLuv Profile

  20. Patricia on July 27th, 2010 3:49 am

    I have 3 to do lists going all the time….but as I recover from this Adrenal Fatigue I am needing more down time….it has taken me a huge amount of time to not think of it as wasting time – that healing is a slow progress sometimes

    Good post…good idea sharing thank you
    Patricia\’s latest awesome post..Stopping to Smell the FlowersMy ComLuv Profile

  21. cathlawson on July 27th, 2010 5:18 am

    Hi Patricia – Definitely – you need to give yourself time to heal. As you say, it’s difficult to feel as though you’re not wasting time while you’re doing so though. Three lists sounds like hard work. You’d be better having them all on one list, then it makes it easier to prioritize.

  22. Nulte - Clocks on July 29th, 2010 3:18 am

    I appreciate your perspective on this. It seems lately that no matter how long I work, I can’t begin to get everything done. I’m focusing on your tip #8 first… more of those distractions!

  23. cathlawson on July 29th, 2010 3:23 am

    Good for you – Constantly checking email, Twitter and stuff can be huge time suckers.

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