5 Hidden Ways We Waste Time

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Time. It’s our most valuable, non-replenishable resource and yet so easy to waste. Here’s my favorite quote about time:

Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.
— Harvey MacKay

No one means to waste time, but we do. Here are 5 ways this happens that you may not have even been aware of. 

1. Our Good Intentions Don’t Equal Greatness

That’s right…our good intentions cause wasted time. You are well intentioned, but your good intentions are rarely supported by great intentionality. Often, we let ourselves off the hook on execution because our intentions tell our mind we’ve completed the work. Seriously, there’s science behind this: See this TED Talk.

@@Your intentions are proof you mean well. Your intentionality is proof you lead well.@@ 

2. Our Waste Arrives With A Whisper

Our wasted time creeps in a lot like sin and temptation. It doesn’t arrive yelling at us. Instead, it arrives slowly, one “yes” at a time.

We are in the people business. We like people. We like pleasing people. Therefore, our default is to say “yes”. Louie Giglio has said, “Let your yes be worth the less.” Whenever we say yes, we have to count the cost of it. Saying yes to too many small things comes at the cost of perhaps something really big.

Waste arrives with a whisper, and as it stays, it spreads. As it spreads, it eventually shouts at us. It shouts in the form of fatigue, burnout, disappointment, discouragement, frustration and much more. Waste accumulates on us. Here’s how...

3. Our Whirlwind Always Wins The War

I’ve referenced Chris McChesney and his book The 4 Disciplines of Execution a lot this past year (see my posts here and here). Mainly because it’s GOLD! This book talks about the two parts of our work: the Whirlwind and the Wildly Important. When you sit down at your desk, what pulls at you is the Whirlwind. What you push toward is the Wildly Important. 

When we take the passive approach to our work, the Whirlwind always wins the war. The Whirlwind actually appears more attractive to us. We say it’s too much or it’s stressing us out, but we welcome the Whirlwind. Here’s why...

4. Our Scorecard Is Screwed Up

Doing more gets celebrated, when the real win is doing more that mattersThe problem with doing more that matters is that it means doing less. And if we do less…well, then, we’re lazy with no work ethic, and that just doesn’t fly in our organizations. We tend to celebrate the busy, overcommitted, worn out worker.

And so…when we ask someone, “Hey, how are things going?” They respond with what word….?? That’s right, busy. Why? Because we have made busy a badge of honor. Busy is not a badge of honor. It’s a plaque that displays your lack of priorities.

@@It’s not about doing more, it’s about doing more that matters.@@

5. Our Aim Is Balance

A myth has been that we ought to achieve balance in life. But our real goal ought to be growth. Balance is equal to a straight line, while growth is up and to the right. And growth happens only under stress. That’s right, stress. It’s when relational, emotional, physical, mental and spiritual stress are prolonged that we lose balance, lack growth and eventually burn out.

If the most valuable, non-replenishable resource is time, then your most valuable and replenishable resource is your energy. And the energy you bring to your time is the key to performance. Energy doesn’t come from the proper balance, it comes from the right rhythms.

@@Energizing periods of stress followed by rest is how we bust through the lid of balance and grow!@@

But I’ve said too much. Next week, I’ll offer five ways to combat the ways we waste time. Don’t miss it.

What are some ways you’ve noticed yourself wasting time? How can you be more intentional with your time?