Part of the problem with managing time is that it’s just so easy to spin our wheels. We can fool ourselves that activity equals progress. Being busy, hectic, and manic becomes, after a while, our default mode, and we become blinded to the fact that we’re not really getting what we want or need. We sit back, exhausted, scratch our heads and say: “Wow, where did that day go?! I didn’t get anything done.”
There are countless ways we spin our wheels:
– Running errands as individual tasks instead of bundling them into one trip when possible.
– Spending more time doing chores around the house than they should take.
– Forgetting things when going shopping.
– Keeping the television or cell phone on when uninterrupted focus is necessary.
– Reading inefficiently, covering the same paragraphs over and over or reading every word.
– Starting, stopping, starting, stopping a hobby, diet, or other activity.
– Trying to multitask and doing several things poorly, having to go back to redo them.
I remember watching students in the library chat for three hours instead of studying and then leave feeling heroic for all the time they’d spent there. In a university gym one day I heard a girl brag that she’d been there for four hours, but she clearly had nothing to show for it. That’s an incredible waste of time. How many times has that been us?
One thing I’ve noticed when conducting trainings on time management: a lot of audience members don’t even realize that they are spinning their wheels; they have never given it much thought and simply think this is the only way life can be. The other thing I’ve noticed is that there’s little sense of how relatively quickly things could get done once there’s awareness and a system in place.
Are you spinning your wheels? When do you find yourself doing it most often? What steps could you take to rearrange your schedule and improve your habits so as to reduce the amount of time you waste?