5 Wonderful Ways to Waste Your Time, Focus and Life

by Henrik Edberg


Image by country_boy_shane (license).



“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”
Bruce Lee

The deeper I go into this area of personal development – and perhaps as I become older – I realize more and more how limited time and focus are. And a form of ruthlessness becomes stronger and stronger. A ruthlessness to cut out the pointless stuff so that you can spend your precious time and focus on what’s important, cool and fun.

Your focus and energy each day is limited. If you use it on the wrong stuff you will never have enough to tackle to important and positive stuff you want to do. You may not see it now but doing some of the things below a lot can really suck the energy right out of you and place your focus in places that won’t help you.

I’m not saying that anyone has to be perfect and not ever do any of these things again. But that you can aim to reduce these things as much as you can and fill up your time and focus with more interesting and positive stuff instead.

Make a habit of being a bit ruthless with your focus and time. Don’t waste them on things just because you think it is “normal” and what other people do. Or because you are used to it.

Now, here are a five of my suggestions for how you can waste your life. And how you can use your time, focus and energy in a better way.

1. Create drama.

Do you create drama in your life to liven it up? Do you have a lot of conflict in your life? Is a lot of people mean to you or out to get you in some way?

You may be in a rough spot right now. But you may also create quite a bit of the drama and conflict you experience by how you think and behave. A lot of these things are often avoidable.

Yes, the drama can be emotionally addictive and in a way feel comfortable and safe because it is what you know. But life becomes so much smoother and easier if you let that stuff go as best you can. Do it for your own sake, for the people around you and for your relationship with them.

What to do instead: Don’t taking everything so seriously. Realize that you say stop to yourself and choose your emotional responses and that you can for example walk away instead of turning situations into big conflicts or fights. Stop making mountains out of molehills to get attention and sympathy from other people. Examine your own life and see if you are perhaps under stimulated. Does nothing much fun happen in the daily life? If not, don’t fill your life with drama. Start filling it with goals that you are really excited to work towards.

2. Lack energy.

If you don’t have enough energy then you won’t have the energy to do what you may really want to do. Or to keep your focus sharply on the right things.

Instead you may take the easy way out because you feel tired all the time.

What to do instead: Eating and sleeping right and working out several times a week are three great fundamentals that will improve your energy levels. Keeping your focus in the right places – on the positive, on what you want instead of what you don’t want, on what you actions you can take rather than what you lack control over – can also help greatly with keeping the energy up.

Obvious? Yeah. But so is much of the most useful advice. The trick is to actually use the advice consistently in your own life.

3. Be judgmental and gossipy.

Being judgmental and gossiping about people can make you feel good. Or it’s just fun to share the latest news about someone. But what does it do to you?

Being judgmental makes you less attractive to most people since openness and positivity are two things that people like. Being judgmental also reinforces your own self-image of a person who needs to put others down and judge them to feel good about yourself. It’s a great way to never be able to raise your own self-esteem. It’s a temporary high with a hangover of negativity that can take over large parts of your everyday life.

What to do instead: One tip to help yourself slip out of such behavior is to focus on the positive in people a bit more and discuss that
instead. You can also focus on being kinder and on giving people genuine compliments. This will make both you and the people around you feel good without those negative effects that I mentioned above. And again, focus your time on doing and working towards what excites you and you’ll simply have less interest and time to go around being gossipy and less need to make yourself feel better through judgments.

4. Think that people care very much about what you do.

This can be a huge time waster. It can keep people trapped for years in their own minds, unable to take action and do what they really want.

What to do instead: Realize that people have their own lives. The world doesn’t revolve around you and the real challenges and imagined drama in your life. People have their own lives and challenges and drama to worry about. So don’t spend too much time thinking and worrying about what people may say or think if you try something. Just try it instead. You may be surprised by the positive or just indifferent response you get from the people around you.

5. Have endless discussions that just go around and around in your head.

People often replay old arguments over and over in their heads and get hooked on these mental reruns. I have certainly done so.

A few other popular ways to have endless discussions in your head are:

  • “Should I do it? Or not do it? And what may happen if I do it?”. This is often caused by thinking that people care very much about what you do. Or that thinking that overthinking will somehow reveal a solution where there is very little or no risk of pain and failure.
  • Beating yourself up. Instead of moving on.

What to do instead: Realize that the past is the past and that you cannot change it by replaying it in your mind over and over. When an old argument pops up in your mind accept that it is in the past and let go of it.

Be kind to yourself, be smart about things and learn what you can instead of beating yourself up. No one will reward you for beating yourself up and you aren’t helping yourself. Realize that overthinking does seldom helps you find superb solutions, but instead traps you in analysis paralysis and just pumps up your fear and negative expectations so that taking action becomes even harder. Use your mind to find a solution but when that is done take action instead doing some more thinking.

Another of own favourite tips for snapping out of such endless discussions in my mind is to step into the now again by for example focusing my senses – what I see, hear, feel, smell and so on – just on what is in front of me and around me. And then to focus on doing something, whatever it may be and just do that. This places me in the now and now my mind is focused on something outside of myself that I am doing.

To avoid several the pitfalls described in this article I’d say that it certainly helps to live consciously by living in the present moment as much as you can. This stops a lot of the thought loops and negativity from showing up at all.

And if they do show up you are now conscious of your thoughts and can say to yourself “no, no, no, stop, we are not going down this pointless path again…”. This helps you to avoid getting stuck in old conditioned and unconscious patterns of thought and behavior that doesn’t help you.

Break out such thought loops or behavior quickly a whole bunch of times and you may discover that they start to show up less and less in your life.

*****

PS: Thank you for participating in last week short survey, I was blown away by the interest and the fact that over 1500 people participated and helped me to better understand what you want to improve in your life. So thank you again!

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{ 27 comments }

Sandra Lee September 23, 2010 at 7:04 pm

What really resonated for me in this article is the word “ruthless!” It really points out the kind of attention we need to place on our time and the awareness that this life is precious and fleeting. I like to be ruthless in a gentle way though! Not to be too hard on oneself!

These are 5 intriguing areas to consider – not your ususal list of time wasters by any means.

Jody Pham September 23, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I needed this, especially today. Thank you!

organic made easy September 23, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I love that you added solutions to the problems. These made a lot of sense.

The thing that has wasted the most of my time is worrying over the level of skill I had to complete a project.

If the first attempt is going to be crappy, fine. But, we at least need to get started by building the skill by practicing and learning from inevitable mistakes. Gaining the courage to try (and not be so self conscious) is a potent way to regain focus and use time appropriately.

Eduard - People Skills Decoded September 23, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Hi Henrik.

I’m glad you’ve mentioned drama as the first one because I think it’s a very important and often ignored way to waste time. In my experience, many people create drama as a way to be the center of attention. And they may get it, but then they quickly become annoying. Not to mention the emotional energy creating drama gobbles up.

Graeme September 23, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Thanks Hendrik,

I’m enjoying all of your posts lately, this one not the least.

Nacho Jordi September 23, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Thank you for the time wasters, they are all excellent.
As for my personal record, I think it would be something like (in decreasing order of importance): 54213
Great reminders, thank you.

Derek September 23, 2010 at 9:43 pm

An excellent list. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to remind yourself what NOT to do.

Debbie @ Happy Maker September 24, 2010 at 12:54 am

This one, 5. Have endless discussions that just go around and around in your head,is a waste of time. If you don’t like what you said or did then just learn by it and let it go.
Very good points that you have made here.
Debbie

Adam Sicinski September 24, 2010 at 1:56 am

I love this list Henrik. I think I have been caught up in all these things at some point in my life.

Another point I would like to add to this list is worrying about future consequences or mistakes. I think we waste so much time worrying about the future that we forget about the present moment and therefore lack the focus and concentration to get the job done today. After all, the future is irrelevant if we can’t get through today ;)

Travis September 24, 2010 at 4:11 am

I think point #4 is especially valuable, because it can be a slippery slope between thoughtful concern regarding self-presentation and obsessive, useless worrying. A tricky trap of the ego indeed.

I also love point #5. GET CLEAR! Then do it. Simple, but not easy.

Great list, Henrik.

Gabriel September 24, 2010 at 8:53 am

I can relate with the being judgmental. I consider myself very open-minded, and do get this aching pierce feeling when people can’t understand and tolerate the other person’s perspective and start talking negatively, oblivious to their own ignorant snobbishness.

By the way Henrik I’m curious, what was the survey result? :)

Henrik Edberg September 26, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Well, what people wanted the most was to improve social skills and relationships. Some common challenges people were facing were for example procrastination, how to make time for everything and how to handle stress.

Gabriel September 30, 2010 at 2:46 am

Well Henrik, if you’d like some contributions, let me know. Social skills is the area I specialize in, although more of the outer game aspects of it that’s applied to dating, but the stuffs can be applied to all generic form of social dynamics interaction.

Anita September 24, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Great Henrick. For me all points are very valuable. Thanks…. i really needed this…

Lori September 25, 2010 at 3:13 am

I have to agree with you very much on these points that you have shared. I have been working with my own therapist on eliminating these time wasters from my life *indeed it very much enhances my happiness and sense of wellbeing from offloading this time wasting junk* thanks for sharing *me liketh mucheth =)

Latoya September 26, 2010 at 1:16 am

Valid points all the way around. Many of us never stop to realize how much negativity we have in our daily lives. But in order to move forward we must get rid of everything that keeps us down and you have given us some good tips of doing so.

Ret September 26, 2010 at 10:50 am

Thanks Henrik. At first glance I thought it was all about how wonderful to ignore time. But when I read the post, I understand that time is really to be treasured. I know that time should be treasured with moments. Time without moments are not life what is made up.

Henrik Edberg September 26, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Thank you all for the kind words and for adding your thoughts and tips! :)

Venus Cow September 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm

If patterns were easy to break self harm would be a thing of the past and by self harm I don’t mean just cutting. When you think about doing anything that is not good for you you are in fact self harming. Smoking, drinking excess alcohol, being lazy, greedy etc. The reason we indulge our egos in this way is to temporarily make ourselves feel better but the important word here is temporarily. Replacing self harm with self therapy is the first step to lasting happiness and the most effective way to keep yourself on track is to maintain a daily journal. It stops you cheating, lying to yourself, justifying your behaviour or making excuses.

Javed September 27, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Very nice article. Thank you!

Nea | Self Improvement Saga September 28, 2010 at 2:03 am

Great post Henrick. There are so many ways that we waste time and energy. You’ve summed a lot of them up in this article so kudos to you.

AnaVar September 28, 2010 at 8:15 am

Great words! “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” I guess time is all we have. And sometimes it just scares me how fast it goes by…

Kim September 28, 2010 at 8:59 am

Hey Henrick when I started reading this post I thought it’s about how to waste time! I was kind of confused ! But then apparently you said what was expected of you ! I think point no.2 will work very quickly if applied . Complimenting others is the best way to get the affection of other people, this helps in being at ease with people whom you compliment which in turn improves your self-confidence.
The 5 Factor Personality Test –
http://www.3smartcubes.com/pages/tests/fivefactor/fivefactor_instructions.asp

Kirstine Vergara September 30, 2010 at 7:10 am

I hate hanging out with people who make drama the center of their day. I have too much drama as it is to want another from someone. Anyways, I think it is vitally important to have a personal set to goals to keep us in the game, but of course it would require a tremendous amount of energy, focus, and commitment – like I said, enough with the drama. :) Goals help balance the very human tendency to be distracted.

Let me share with you an article on Goal Setting.> Stop wasting your time and learn to effectively program your goals. :)

Ken Apple September 30, 2010 at 11:19 am

Although the older I get the less impatient I become. Kids, those amongst us with the most time left seem always bored and impatient. The less impatient I am the more I enjoy things and the more I seem to actually get done. One of those inexplainable life paradoxes, I suspect.

June October 5, 2010 at 9:29 am

I love this one as well.
Reverse writing skill, good one.

Thanks for your sharing.

Tess The Bold Life October 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.”

This is so true for everyone not just husband and wife! Love it;)

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