11 Ways You’re Wasting Time And How To Change

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. What you do with it is up to you, but you may be wasting time each day which can hold you back from reaching your goals. If you are able to figure out where in your day you are wasting time, you may be able to:…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: June 5, 2023

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11 Ways You're Wasting Time And How To Change It

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. What you do with it is up to you, but you may be wasting time each day which can hold you back from reaching your goals.

If you are able to figure out where in your day you are wasting time, you may be able to:

  • Start a side hustle
  • Make more money
  • Pay off debt
  • Spend more time with your loved ones
  • Learn a new skill
  • Have more fun in life
  • Travel more
  • Reach a dream of yours, and more!

Just think about it: What do you think you could do with an extra 5-10 hours, or even more, each week?

You might even be wasting time without knowing it. You might not realize how this wasted time easily adds up to a huge number of hours.

Hopefully today’s topic will help you find hours in your week, no matter how they are lost.

Here are 11 ways you’re wasting time and how to change that.

Related reads:


1. Checking your email over and over

I’m guilty of checking my email numerous times throughout the day. It’s a problem I have, but I am slowly getting better with lots of room for improvement.

Checking your email can waste a lot of time. By dedicating your time and focus towards checking your email, you may be losing your train of thought when you should actually be doing something else.

I recommend checking your email just a few times a day, or even (EEEK!!!) once a day.

2. Being unorganized

Being unorganized can waste a significant amount of your time and leads to late fees, stress, lost items, and more.

Here are some surprising statistics I found from Simply Orderly about being unorganized:

  • The average person spends 12 days per year looking for things they can’t find.
  • Every day the average office worker spends 1.5 hours looking for things.
  • In a recent survey, 55% of consumers stated they would save anywhere from 16 to 60 minutes a day if they were organized.
  • 23% of people pay bills late and have to pay late fees because they are unable to find their bills.


3. Watching TV

I love a good TV show, but I can honestly say that I watch too much TV. The average person watches TV for over 35 hours per week!

Can you imagine what you could do by reclaiming just half of those hours each week?

Related: Cut the cable cord and start saving thousands of dollars!


4. Gossipping

Whether you spend too much time reading celebrity tabloids or if you talk about people a lot, spreading gossip can be a huge waste of time.

Just think about the amazing things you could do if you focused on yourself instead of wasting so much time gossiping about others.


5. Taking forever to get ready

Many people spend way too much time getting ready and picking out their outfit. By having less clothing options and/or choosing your outfit the night before, you can save valuable minutes each day.

For more information I recommend checking out Becoming Minimalist’s blog post, 8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day.


6. Not having a to do list

I have a constant to do list.

Without it, I would feel lost, unorganized, and probably even confused about what to do! Yes, I rely heavily on my to do list, but putting a to do list together doesn’t have to be hard. I keep my to do list on my phone, and it’s just a simple list of things I need to do. Others find planners work for well for them.

Your to do list will keep you on track so you don’t forget what needs to be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, which in turns keeps you motivated towards your goals.


7. Procrastinating

Procrastination can waste time as you may find anything else you can possibly do before completing a certain task.

Then, you might do things that waste even more time, such as just standing around, watching TV, cleaning the same area you’ve already cleaned 10 times that day, and more.

It’s much better to understand why you are procrastinating and how to create an action plan to stop this time wasting behavior. By focusing on what you need to do, you will stop wasting time!


8. Spending too much time on social media

The average person spends many, many hours on social media each week. Between Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and many others it can be quite easy to waste your entire day away.

If you find that you are spending too much time on social media and that it is negatively impacting you, you may want to close the accounts you are spending too much time on. You can even create a time block so you cannot access your accounts during certain periods of the day, and so on.


9. Being negative

You are wasting time when you are being negative.

Instead of focusing on negatives like regret and being mean, you can be more productive by using this time for things that actually matter.

Related: How To Be More Productive: 17 Tips To Help You Live A Better Life


10. Multitasking

Some people can multitask successfully, but many people cannot with the large amount of time it takes to refocus on a new task. So, if you are constantly switching back and forth, you will have to spend time refocusing every single time.

It’s best to realize your strengths and weaknesses to know whether or not multitasking actually helps you save time.


11. Hitting the snooze button

Sleeping for those two minutes after your alarm goes off isn’t going to change your life. There are many scientific studies proving that hitting the snooze button does nothing good for you.

I know many people who set their alarms to go off anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before they actually want to wake up.

I’m not going to lie. I used to do this as well and thought it was the only way I could get up. It definitely did not work, as I always felt extremely groggy and sometimes even more tired!

Instead, you should wake up when your alarm first goes off to use those minutes valuably. You should either start going to sleep earlier, or setting your alarm for when you actually get out of bed.

How are you wasting time? How much time do you waste each day?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. YES!! This post is amazing. I am allll about prioritizing, knowing what my goals are, staying organized, and following through. It helps with time management so much!

    1. Thanks! I agree, it definitely helps with time management.

  2. Monica

    This is a thought-provoking post! I am guilty of the email trap and several others on your list. I also feel that I waste a lot of time “thinking” of how exactly to do things. (like thinking about how I will implement these great ideas you shared) I make a lot of lists about my thoughts. I would have better results and be more productive if I just got started with the doing phase! 🙂 Otherwise, I have a long list of great things that I’d like to do…..and its not done. My own form of procrastination, I suppose. I’m always a work in progress! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      1. Monica@wellideclare

        I hope that my wording did not leave the impression that thinking about this list was a waste of time! My intent was to say that the thinking, rather than just doing, wastes my time. 🙂 I shared this list with my hubby and he has left his phone on the kitchen island today.

  3. Michael

    I have a living prioritized to do list and keep plowing through that list everyday. It is amazing just how much I can get done by using a running list. It also feels good and motivates me more as I see how much I have accomplished when see the strikethrough’s.

  4. I used to take forever to get ready in the mornings – usually up to an hour to have a shower, dry my hair, put my make up on before I could leave the house. Once I had a baby, I do not have time for these sorts of luxuries anymore – it takes me up to 5 minutes to get ready these days 🙂 I have a to do list too, I would be lost without it. I am still guilty of watching too much TV and spending way too much time on social media websites – this is definitely something I need to work on and keep to a minimum.

    1. We recently put the TV away in our RV (it slides into the walls – don’t really know how to explain it, haha). I’ve probably watched 1 hour of TV in the past week. It’s been nice!

  5. Amy @ Money Morsels

    I have a job, plus a blog, plus a couple of side hustles, and I am a single mom too, and yet I still know I waste too much time. It’s so easy to get sucked into the time wasters.

  6. Mrs. CTC

    O no, I am guilty of all of the above. Except for being negative, so that’s a positive 🙂

    Good tips, this would explain why I always feel busy and inefficient. Because apparently I am!

  7. Yes, I recently did that. So much better now!

  8. Apathy Ends

    I am sure I hit everyone of these every week at one point, checking email and organization are my biggest killers.

    Do laundry, don’t fold it, search 10 minutes for missing sock. Repeat next day.

  9. Jeanie

    I needed this today. I’m guilty on all accounts. I need to tape this to my mirror. Thanks. I always look forward to your blog posts.

  10. Jeanie Carter

    I needed to read this today. Guilty on all accounts. Your blog posts are great. Thanks!

  11. I’m guilty of the email thing. I’m going to start just checking it at specified times during the day. It’s very rare that I get an email I need to answer immediately. Thanks for the great tips!

    1. Yes, same here! It’s something I really need to work on.

  12. I try to 4 hour work week my emails and batch them, but GRRR I’m so guilty of checking multiple times a day. Social media is also a huge time suck for me and I need to get better at automating some of it to take it off my daily to-do list (at least one I got right! 😉 )

    1. What’s that method? I’d love to know more!

      1. He’s all about batching (similar to watch you mentioned) and uses auto-responders so people don’t feel like he’s ignoring them: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2007/03/22/how-to-check-e-mail-twice-a-day-or-once-every-10-days/

        1. Ooooh definitely checking this out!

  13. Michelle,

    This post is so true! The more I work from home I find the more I slip in time wasters. From the countless email checking to social media to reading blogs and then realizing I’ve spent an hour doing nothing!

    I’ve been working hard lately at automating tasks and setting time frames since I am a freelance writer and have deadlines.

    Thanks for opening up our eyes!

  14. I’m guilty with spending more time on social media especially FB! 🙁 It’s totally a waste of time and I’m trying to control it.

  15. How about a commute? My commute is either 45 minutes by car, or 1 hour 15 minutes where 40 minutes of that is on the train. Walking is good for me, but today I pulled out my laptop and wrote one and a half blog posts on my commute home! I used to just click around Facebook and Instagram and be bored on the train, or have to DRIVE – this is so much better!

  16. I have to admit I am one of those people who is sometimes unorganized. It’s part of being human. I have things scattered across the room. One side of a wall stacked a good way up with fitness supplements ranging from Whey protein bags to cans of fitness supplements and 2 large boxes of 24 bottles of bodybuilding supplements each, boxes of new shoes scattered across the room, and more. Striving to get organized seems like a goal most dream of achieving and requires a dedicated mindset in efforts of staying on track with wasting less time and maintaining better organization skills.

    1. I’m not the most organized person either 🙂

  17. Sorry to say there are just a few tid bit typos in the last comment. I was using a speech recognition program and didn’t think of going back to spell check everything. Sorry about that. 🙂

      1. Thanks Michelle! 🙂

  18. Brittany

    Thank you for this post! It really made me revaluate how I spend my time. I have been trying to add side hustles to my day and sometimes find myself drifting away from it and being lazy. I think this will help me keep my eye on the prize and pay off debt sooner. 🙂

  19. FoodLove Girl

    Great article. I’m working now on.simplifying my wardrobe in part to eliminate this as an issue that I worry about, spend money on, and wste time on. I’m attempting the Project 333 challenge. The goal is to own no more than 33 items per season including shes and accesories! Check it out: http://Www.bemorewithless.com

    1. Thanks, I’ll check that out!

  20. Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog

    This is a great list. I try to minimize the time it takes me to get ready in the morning because I do other things like go to the gym and work on my blog.

  21. Financial Goalie

    Hahaha, oh Michelle, you’re getting a ton of confession out of everyone!

    I’ll be next. i’m definitely guilty of wasting time. I think it’s because after 10 hours of work (7AM to 5PM) the last thing I want to do is exercise, laundry, and clean up my house. But yet I get on the internet just to watch some episodes [free] while eating dinner. If I’m feeling inspired by something, I would write it in my blog.

    Thanks for posting this! This is just a wake-up call that I need to definitely workout to improve my health, stay organized with my daily chores, and be more productive.

    1. Haha, yes, lots of confessions!

  22. Great post Michelle! I recently started waking up at 5:00 AM to work on my side-hustle blog for a few hours before work. My wife and I also cut the cable about 2 years ago (we haven’t looked back since)! 🙂

  23. Tyler @ Oddball Wealth

    Awesome post! One way I recently discovered I was wasting time without really realizing it, was with electronics and technology. When it was time for me to work, I would subconsciously pickup my phone, see an article I wanted to read, turn on the tv, etc.

    To combat this, I now go into a room with just a pen, notebook, and hardcover books, to write down ideas and make an outline. I leave my phone, laptop, and anything else that might distract me in another room.

    I do this whenever I have time and helps a lot. It really allows me to relax and lets my brain focus.

  24. Norman

    I love this article!

    I think another way to avoid hitting the snooze button is to get a better understanding of your own sleep cycle. If you’re having trouble waking up at a certain time, it may be because you’re in a deeper sleep. There are apps that track when you are in lighter sleep, and then wake you up at those moments (it will be before your set wakeup time). As a result, you’ll have an easier time waking up.

    1. Yes! My husband is tracking his sleep with an app and he is learning so much.

  25. Jackie

    I’m working on not wasting so much time too. I’m definitely guilty of re-checking my email a million times a day so I’m working on that. Also trying to spend less time on social media as well – always a learning process!

    1. Yes, always a learning process!

  26. Stockbeard

    Ouch, I’m guilty of most of these except maybe the TV part 🙁

    1. Haha, it seems like many of us are guilty of a lot of these 🙂

  27. At least you realize your weaknesses 🙂

  28. Awesome post! Thanks for sharing! Checking emails is one thing I havent really ever thought of being a time waster but I definately do get caught in that cycle every day! Great post 😊

  29. I love that you included taking forever to get ready. I completely agree! I have limited time in the morning before my daughters wake up. There are so many more things I want to do in the morning instead of spending the time getting ready and primping!

  30. The number one is inevitable, about the others I use anydo.. for my Todo list evernote,note for notes , ideas I also have a notebooks, I use rescuetime to know wich program do I use most on my computer
    I rarely watch tv…I change my music for motivations speech that I looping every single day to get inspire and focus on my goals

  31. Thanks, this is a good article. Temptations arise throughout the day to lure us off our path and when we give into those temptations we weaken ourselves and when we say no we strengthen ourselves – it’s all about focusing each day on high return activities and being aware of low return activities we can let go of.

  32. Fab post! Time management is definitely a key attribute in progressing further!

  33. I really struggle sometimes with managing my time as a build my online business. As soon as the sun shines outside I somehow find myself sat in the garden! Hitting the snooze button is definitely another thing I must stop doing!

    I think a lot of it is habitual.