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When I think about “productivity killers,” the most common culprit is the timewaster. A timewaster is an activity you do that takes up a lot of time, but it doesn’t directly contribute to your most important goals. For many people, timewasters include things like watching television, surfing the internet, playing video games, or checking social media.

Time Creep

Importantly, timewasters aren’t inherently bad. We all need time to check out and relax. We can’t work all the time. The problem is timewasters tend to take up more time than is necessary. We might intend to spend 10 minutes checking social media, for example, but two hours later we are still liking posts on Instagram. Also, we tend to engage in timewasters whenever we have empty space, which can hamper our mindfulness and creativity.

Move Timewasters to Another Room

One helpful intervention I have used with timewasters in my own life is to move my timewasters to another room. For example, there’s a computer game I like to play. But recently, I realized I was playing the game more than I wanted to, and it was interfering with my life. I moved the laptop I play the game on into another room, and put it in a drawer.

Conscious vs. Autopilot

Now, there’s nothing magical about moving your timewaster into another room. If I wanted, I could still go into the other room, take out my laptop, and play my game. However, what has changed is that in order to play my game, I have to make a conscious decision and take conscious steps to play it. I can’t just have some down time and open up my computer without even thinking about it.

Because I have to make conscious choices in order to engage in my timewaster, I’m more likely to think about whether or not I really want to do it. I’m more likely to actually pause and think about whether engaging in the timewaster is a good use of my time. And if I do decide to play the game, I’m more likely to be thoughtful about how long I should play it. When I do this, I’m engaging my timewasters consciously rather than just being on autopilot.

Discussion

What do you think of the idea of moving your timewaster to another room? If you can’t physically move your timewaster to another room, is there a way you could make access more difficult so you have to make a conscious decision to engage in your timewaster? What has helped you to engage your timewasters in a more conscious manner?

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