These days everyone says that they don’t have time, even those things that we once did easily become difficult to squeeze in the 24 hours we have daily. This lack of time becomes all the more troublesome when studies and exams are in full swing.
Well, time has always been constant — with 24 hours in each day and seven days in a week. What has changed is the way we are using our time. We are either trying to do a lot of things or are giving too much time to just a few things, with the result that we often end up with little time for what we want to do or should be doing.
There are so many things that suck away our minutes and hours, keeping us busy, or so we feel, and eventually leaving us too exhausted to do important tasks that we should be doing. These are time-wasters, things that keep us occupied but don’t make us accomplish as much as we should. If one is able to identify these time-wasters in time, one can save a lot of time for things that are important and a priority for us.
These time-wasters are not just a problem for students, but adults too and it affects their job performance. We will look at some of these time-wasters that most people remain preoccupied with, but since everyone has different schedules and situations, there can be many other things that suck up their time unnecessarily.
You will have to honestly look at the things you spend your time on, how important they are for you, what you achieve in return and are those things worth the time you are spending on them. Only you can tell whether something is a timewaster for you or not, and only you can modify your routine to use your time to give you the maximum benefit.
This quote from Michael Altshuler, an author, should give you the confidence to take control of your time and use it wisely: “The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you’re the pilot.”
Lack of planning
To execute any project successfully, you need a good plan. Consider each day as a project, plan what needs to be done when.
Everyone does something every day – a mother, gatekeeper, shopkeeper, student, teacher, sportsman, bus driver, president, etc. Each person knows the responsibilities they have to fulfil and they plan their day accordingly. One doesn’t have to be a CEO with fancy planners and to-do lists to spend the day efficiently. You can plan your day in your head, with timings for most tasks and deadlines for accomplishing them.
If you need inspiration, just look at your mother — how she wake up before everyone else and get the breakfast ready and everyone out of the bed to go to school and offices, and when you return, the house is in order, the laundry is washed, some nice food is ready in the kitchen and a warm smile is offered to everyone.
She must have planned her day properly and set her priority right to have been able to do all this. I am sure she enjoys watching a movie or a drama on TV, but if she would have done that, what state would the house have been in? She too does struggle to find time for all the distractions life now offers, but she sticks to her schedule.
In the same way, you should also plan your day well to complete all the tasks you need to do on set timings, and only indulge in other things when you have extra time. If there are extra activities, tests, exams, matches or an outing coming up, plan ahead for those days by seeing how you will squeeze in time for these things too.
Lack of organisation
While it may seem that planning and organisation are the same things, they are different. By organisation I mean the way you keep your things and the method of doing your tasks.
An organised person keeps things in proper places, well-sorted and arranged. And after using anything, he or she keeps it back in its place so that time is not wasted in searching for it in the future. It may seem a hassle to get up from the bed and keep your notebook back in the school bag, but if you don’t do it, you may waste time looking for it when going to school the next morning.
In the same way, if you don’t organise your things in the night for the school next day, in the morning you will waste time doing things that you should have done the night before. Your room, study area, school bag and anything else that you use, should be organised. And if you have been too busy to clear things away, do it as soon as you get time.
Looking for something lost is a timewaster, it also makes us stress and frustrated, besides getting tired.
We are all guilty of this, just sitting there and thinking of all that we have to do, and sometimes don’t want to do, while the clock ticks away. Eventually, we do get up and do what we are supposed to do but we have wasted so much time trying to delay it. And we may not even do it well, because our heart is not in it.
If we behave this way each time we are faced with doing what we don’t enjoy much or don’t want to do at that moment, procrastination becomes a habit and the biggest timewaster troubling us.
Thinking about something brings up a lot of feelings, especially negative ones, so don’t dwell on things much — just do it!
When we don’t do things that we should have done, we tend to feel guilty about it and instead of getting into action to resolve things, we become inactive out of guilt. What’s done, is done, don’t waste time thinking about.
Guilt is not something to waste time on, instead, it should make you more determined to do better next time.
I confess to having this habit of starting a lot of things and not finishing any or most of them. And students also tend to do this when they pick up a subject to study or homework to do, and leave it half-way when they get struck in a problem or get bored, and start something else.
But by the time we come back to what we were first doing, we will waste time getting focused and into the rhythm. So finish what you start, unless it is something that is not important and urgent, and you have to stop mid-way to do something that is a priority.
Social media and gadgets
Actually, this point is the top timewaster for everyone today. And we all know this. Once we start staring at a screen, hours pass so fast and before we know it, we have not done a zillion things that we should have done.
We need to remind ourselves that people lived without social media, messages, gadgets and online games in not a very distant past. We can at least set timings for these so that our schedule is not disrupted too much. Posts on social media remain, so we don’t have to keep checking it every 15 minutes or so. And many messages, especially on group chats, don’t have to be answered or we don’t have to comment of every post.
If we stop wasting time in giving a reply to each and everything, liking and commenting on every photo, the world will not come to an end.
Not being able to say no
We can’t do everything or please everyone all the time. So we should stop trying to do so. Because we can’t say no to someone when they ask us to do something, we often end up sacrificing our time for their benefit.
Frankly, friends and siblings have the tendency of delegating a lot of things to others which they easily can do themselves. Avoid saying yes when you have too much on your own plate. You don’t have to be rude, just explain to them what all you need to do first. This should give you the incentive to finish your own tasks first so that you can help out others.
Not putting up boundaries
When you are busy doing anything important, explain to others that you need to concentrate and finish your work. Tell your friends you are busy at such and such times so that they don’t call you up or come over to play.
A “Please don’t disturb me now, I am busy,” is a very simple way to get around the problem of interruptions both at school and at home. Define the days you are free to play games or any such activity, and others will respect your boundaries and not waste your time.
There are many other things that are major time-wasters in everyday life, you have to identify yours and avoid them. It is not very difficult, just try it.
Published in Dawn, Young World, November 30th, 2019