Thursday, October 3, 2013

Five Things That Steal Time

I have found that too many days end with less accomplished than I wanted to complete.  In other words my to done list is way to short, and the to do list is still too long.  Why can I not get everything done that I want to do?  I start the day with good intentions.  I write down the things I'd like to do, I look at the time needed, and the priorities, and the plan looks feasible.  However somewhere between Getting Up and starting the day and Getting Ready For Bed, something happened to derail my plans.

As I look back over the day I try and figure out what happened.  I've noticed a few things that steal my time.  Some of the things are obvious, while others look so innocent, but they take away from my productivity. 

So I've been giving this some thought, and I've come up with a short list of things that seem to steel my time.  Granted, self discipline is a factor, and there are days when I do give my self permission not to do what I wanted to do that morning. (But the self discipline thing is a post for another day.)  Each of the following five items, in and of themselves don't take much but as a whole, they can wreck your productivity. 


My son Kevin could write a text message with his phone in his pocket.  In fact one of his phones he had worn the letters of the key pad because of his non stop texting.  I cut him some slack because he was 18 and a senior and didn't have much in the way of school work.

Text messages are great.  You can fire off a note and continue with what you are doing.  Your phone beeps, whistles, sings, vibrates...  well what ever it does, you check the phone and there is the answer to your question, or the message that just arrived is a question that will need your attention. 

I do not text very fast.  Sometimes I can click on the microphone icon and say my text, but most of the time the phone puts down something totally different, so I have to delete it and type it in again.  Hit send and go back to doing what I was doing.

Then the phone beeps, whistles, sings, vibrates......   and you can not ignore it.  What is it?  Who sent it?  What do they want?  Gotta answer it.

Pretty soon you've spent a lot of time with the little messages.  A short phone call could handle the whole situation in about two minutes, but you'll spend a lot of time texting back and forth. 

Even the boss sends you text messages. 

So, if it isn't important, or helping you accomplish things, move the messages down on your priority list.  The little cell phone is not supposed to be running your life, so don't let it.  The text message can wait.


I had a boss who used e-mail to send out all of his communications.  He would get upset if you didn't respond quickly to his e-mail.  So I had his e-mails sent to my phone so I could be alerted when they came in.  It kept the boss happy, but it ruined my productivity on the things I was trying to do.  Because my phone would beep, whistle, sing, vibrate....  I would have to stop what I was doing, onlock the screen, click on the e-mail button and read the message.  Decide if I needed to do something then, or if it could wait.

Most of the time the thing could wait.  It was a bad idea to have e-mail sent to my phone. 

The best thing to do is have a time of day when you open your e-mail, read them, and sort them out and put things on your list to work on, and get on with things.

Stopping to check the e-mail every 20 min or so will bog you down and put a huge damper on your productivity.  So give e-mail the time it needs to keep communication flowing, add things to your work load, answer questions that need your attention, and then shut it down and keep going on what you need to do. 

You rule, not your e-mail.


I love new things, and I love the electronic world.  All sorts of neat gizmos to make life easier, and more fun, for the most part.  So the tablet/iPad is supposed to help you be more productive, it is also filled with things that distract you.  Sorting play lists, playing a quick game....

10 to 20 minutes can zip right by and suddenly you are in a hurry to catch up on things.  So use the tools wisely.

Checking Status on Facebook/Twitter

I keep hearing that Facebook is addictive.  In fact I've heard that there are people who have a fear of missing an update from someone.  I also understand that the younger generation is really hooked on the facebook/social media thing. 

It is true, I do have a facebook account, but I get on about once or twice a week, and spend about a half hour with it.  I like to know what my friends are doing, but I would rather talk with them and hear it from them, not reading about it on some computer screen.  I feel less conected with my friends with facebook.  I want them to tell me what they are doing, not checking their account to see what they are up to. 

I do like the photo memes and the wit and jokes.  I can see how you can get lost in all of that.  However, decide how long you want to spend on it and set a timer and get out.  You'll find you'll spend the whole night looking at facebook.

Current Events

It is good to be informed.  I like to know what is going on.  The internet gives you instant updates and lots of links, and a lot of folks have a lot of things to say about a lot of issues.  I've worked hard, I want to take a break, and I'll check on the news.

Well with all the ease of getting things, again you can find yourself spending more time in the arena than you had originally intended.

 * * *

So all these things that save time, and make things easier, can, and often do, take up more time than you realize.  Remember, you are the master.  You decide how much time to allot to these things.  Do not allow them to run you, and suck up all your time. 

Moderation is the key.  Texting, e-mail, electronics, facebook/social media, and current events are all good, and if used with a little self control, can help your productivity.  Just don't let all the gizmos and fun distract you from your own list of things that need your attention and need to be done.

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