How to Stop Wasting Time and Reclaim Your Life

"I don't have time."

And then every productivity driven human on the face of the earth cringed.

I mean, it's normal, right? To lose track of time. To get busy and not have time for everything. For some, that's the signal that your life is full (when you can't fit all that you want into it).

But here's the thing. I don't want to live a normal life. I don't want to settle for anything, not when our time is limited. (Tweet)

Scary stats:
  • The average person spends about 3 hours and 43 minutes on their phones. (Doing the math, that's 48 days out of the year we spend staring at a screen.)
  • The average U.S. consumer spends almost 4 hours daily watching TV - and I'm sure Netflix counts. (Almost 61 days out of the year.)

Seeing these numbers opened my eyes and made me very aware of what I do on a day to day basis. How do I know what time is wasted and what time was used effectively? How can I use the pockets of time in my day to be productive? Is time spent commuting, on social media, or even socializing* effective in the long run?

This post is for those daring enough to ask, "Am I utilizing my waking hours?" and find out where your time goes and how you can stop wasting it.

* Not a waste, per say. Unless you're hanging out with people you don't like!

How much time are you wasting?

Know where your time is going

Some of the most popular time wasters are:

  • Not planning your meals (1+ time spent trying to decide what to eat then cooking then eating then clean up)
  • Watching TV when you're bored or don't know what else to do
  • Procrastinating, complaining, gossiping
  • Not prioritizing what's important to you
  • Hanging out with negative/not-your-people people
  • Indecision (can't decide if this hurts or helps)

How to figure out where your time is going: track it. ALL of it.

Utilize the features on your smartphone or install an app that shows you how much time you spend on your phone and where you are spending it.

Methods to track your time:

A. Apps I've heard great things about: The 10 Best Time Tracker Apps of 2019

I can't speak for any of the apps on this list because most of them I am unable to try thoroughly before this post goes up. Check each of the options out thoroughly to see which is the best for you. I am using ATimeLogger which you can get from the Apple store and the Google Play Store. My favorite part is that you can look at data visually, which is great for those who are visual learners such as myself.

B. Pen and paper: Classic but something extra you'll have to carry around with you all day.

How long should I track my time?

I suggest tracking your time for a full two weeks before making adjustments. This way, you have a pretty good idea of what you need to work on.

Now that you know where your time is going, what can you do to maximize your day?

1. Set time limits for your weak areas

ATimeLogger screenshot
Screenshot of the usage tracker on my phone

Find out your weak areas:

After two weeks of tracking my time, I saw these trends:
  • 12.3% of my day was spent on Entertainment (2hr 45 min)
  • 8.9% was spent "Chilling" aka not really doing anything productive, but relaxing (2hr)

On my actual phone:
  • The average time I spent on my phone in a day was about 3.5 hours (just about 24 hours a week).
  • My most used app is my Messages app. Somedays I use it for 2 hours, other days for 6.

Screen time and Messages. These are where I spend most of my time on any given day.

How to limit your weak areas:

Set app timers.
I set the following limits for my phone:
  • Messages: 2hr
  • YouTube: 25 min
  • Instagram: 15 min
  • Twitter: 15 min
  • Pinterest: 15 min
  • Keep Notes: 30 min

Keep your awareness alive when you are not on your device.
Where do you put your time when you're not on your phone? Into your computer? TV? 

Be reasonable.
Just because you are trying to reclaim your life, doesn't mean others will work with you to do this. When hanging out with friends, don't mark this time as wasted (even if they want to binge watch something). Enjoy this time together and go easy on yourself. Don't strive for perfection but for baby steps forward each day.

2. Use Timers

In my post about how to manage your creative time, I recommend setting a timer when working - specifically the Pomodoro technique, which goes like this.

25 minutes of focused activity.
5-minute break.
Repeat this three more times. On the fourth cycle, take a longer break (15 to 30 minutes).
Then repeat.

This is a really great way to not only keep yourself focused but also begin to figure out how much time you should block out for activities. How many rounds it takes for you to complete something on your list will be a good indicator of the difficulty of the task, allowing you to plan your time better in the future. This helps prevent rushing so you can produce quality work.

3. Schedule your time

My favorite thing to do during my weekly review is to look at my upcoming week and plan ahead. Scheduling the hours I babysit, appointments, fun events, and other commitments ahead of time allows me to see what time remains for me to work on my personal priorities (blogging, writing, editing, reading, exercising, etc.)

The best method for this? Calendar blocking. There are quite a few resources out there to help you get started on this, but this gist of how to do it goes like this: Schedule out everything you have to do. Everything. And always overestimate how much time something will take.

4. Stop multitasking

Despite feeling a boost in your productivity, studies of multitasking have actually shown that it decreases the quality of your work and slows you down. So while you may think by multitasking you are saving time, you may actually be creating more work for yourself.

How does one stop multitasking? Focus your efforts on one thing at a time. Instead of texting and watching TV, pause the show to reply - or wait until it's over before getting back to someone.

One of my biggest distractions is my phone, so that I like to do when I need to get quality work done, is put it out of plain sight. The best thing to do is put it on silent and set it down across the room, far out of reach. You'll be amazed at how much more you can get done when that nagging feeling of check my phone slowly fades away and you get into a workflow.

5. Build habits that save you time

Habits such as...
  • Meal planning
  • Weekly review
  • Creating an actionable to-do list
  • Calendar blocking
These can save you so much time as well as cut down on decision fatigue. If the areas you feel you're putting too much of your time toward aren't digital, then what can you do to get back this time? You'll have to find your own creative solution for your own individual life but remember that you can group tasks, create routines, and do something in bulk at the beginning of the week to help save on your efforts later.

Tweet: “Your time is way too valuable to be wasting on people that can't accept who you are.” ― Turcois Ominek

6. Declutter talks about the benefits of having a clean home. They include increases in your productivity, reduction in your stress levels, and improving your mental space.

I recently wrote a few posts on these, and you can check them out here:

7. Allow yourself a break

This is probably the hardest thing to do, especially if you're someone who pushes themselves to do it all and still maintain the balance of life. But you can't maintain anything unless you give yourself some time to rest.

We have to face reality: There is no way humanly possible to make every one of our waking moments productive. Sometimes, life happens. You get sidetracked, someone asks you for a favor, or you just aren't into it today. Whatever it is - it's okay. No one expects perfection from you. (Except maybe yourself?)

So take breaks. Give in to your guilty pleasures. Spend time doing things that are easy, mindless, or simply relaxing. Take care of yourself.

What do you tend to waste the most time on?

What steps are you going to take to utilize your time? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Wow. Okay. I really needed this. XD I’m a great example of How To Waste Your Time On YouTube. ;) Thanks for the tips! Definitely bookmarking this one.

  2. Oh man, I feel like if I did this I'd scare myself and realize I need to regroup! I loved this post though! I can see that a lot of effort was put into it!

  3. Hm... I wonder why messages is the highest??

    UGH, you are so smart and so good at this. <3 Thank you so much for this post-- normally, if I read a time management post, I would have fallen in a I-Need-To-Be-Productive-Asap-Frenzy but instead I feel inspired and ready to manage my time without feeling overwhelmed. <3 Gosh, you're amazing. >3<

    xx Your Kenzie


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