10 Things That Waste Your Time (and How to Combat Them!)

Time — the elusive yet ever-ticking resource that governs our lives. We’ve all heard the saying “Time is money” — but it is so much more than that. Time is a form of currency; you use it to gain experiences, build relationships, and chase dreams. How you choose to use your time ultimately defines your journey in life.

You can argue that time spent doing something you enjoy — whether it’s “productive” or not — is never wasted. But what about all those things that actually do waste your time?

If you are going to make the best use of your precious hours on this Earth, it is crucial to recognize which activities eat away at this precious commodity and learn how to combat them. Let’s walk through these ten things that waste your time (that you may not even realize!) and why it’s so crucial to be intentional in how you use your most precious resource.

Time Waster 1 | Women sitting on desk looking reflective

Time is your greatest asset

“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

When it comes to the hustle and grind of our everyday life, it is easy to overlook the significance and value of time. We pour over our finances every month to create a budget, research the best stocks to invest in, and do everything we can to plan for retirement — yet our most valuable asset often slips through our fingers unnoticed. But the truth is, time is the one resource we can’t replenish; once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. 

If you want to make the most of your life, it’s critical to treat time with the utmost respect and mindfulness. The old adage “Time is on your side” can be true — but only if you use it wisely.

How do you define wasting time?

Before we can dive into the time-wasters, let’s establish what “wasting time” actually means. 

In the most basic definition, any activity that fails to bring you joy or serve a purpose can be deemed a time-waster. Whether mindlessly scrolling through social media without an objective or dwelling over past mistakes, these actions detract from your overall well-being and productivity (while eating away at what valuable time you have).

It’s important to note that sometimes “time-wasting” activities can actually bring you joy and serve a purpose. Hopping on social media to catch up with old friends can be a great way to decompress after a long day if done with the right intent. Reflecting on your past is essential in healing, but only to the extent that you use these insights to improve your future. 

As with everything in life, using your time well can’t be defined in black-and-white terms. What’s important is that you use your time in a way that is meaningful to you.

Woman hiding her face behind curtain

10 Things that waste your time (and how to combat them)

With a better understanding of what it truly means to waste your time, let’s walk through some of the most common and sneaky time-wasting offenders.

1. Not planning ahead

The lack of proper planning is a recipe for inefficiency (which is the worst time-wasting offender!). Without a roadmap, you’re navigating through life’s twists and turns blindfolded, tripping over obstacles (and, most likely, yourself) along the way. 

Planning ahead and embracing productivity techniques can help streamline tasks and prioritize how you use your time. Proper planning ensures that you can spend each day purposefully and intentionally.

Whether you are trying to stay afloat at work, juggle parenting and motherhood, or establish a new fitness routine — creating a plan is essential in achieving your goals (and maintaining your sanity!). Get into the habit of scheduling a routine “planning session” as often as you need it to tackle your never-ending list of obligations in the most efficient way possible.

2. Multitasking ALL THE TIME

As modern women, society has trained us to tout our ability to multitask as a badge of honor. But contrary to popular belief, multitasking isn’t the ultimate productivity hack; it’s a sneaky time-waster. 

Picture this: you are sitting at your desk, fingers flying across the keyboard as you attempt to answer emails, finalize a report, and schedule meetings — all at the same time. Sounds familiar, right? We have all been there, convinced that we’re maximizing our time and getting more done in less time. 

But here’s the harsh reality: every time you transition between activities, your brain must “reset” for the new task. While this may only amount to a few seconds every time you stop writing that report to quickly answer that email notification that just popped up on your screen — those seconds add up. And the more complex the task, the more time is wasted every time you try to tackle something new.

Instead of trying to do everything at once, embrace the art of monotasking — avoid distractions and devote your attention fully to one task at a time. By focusing on a single task at a time, you can immerse yourself in the process, giving it the attention it deserves and producing higher-quality work.

While you can’t always avoid task-switching (like when you get the dreaded school nurse call while you’re typing mid-sentence), embracing the “one thing at a time” mentality as much as possible will help you use your time efficiently in the long run.

The right way to multitask

There is a certain type of multitasking that is actually a time-maximizer, not a waster. Read more about how to multi-task the right way

3. Excessive social media, TV, or digital scrolling

First of all, let me just clarify that I love a good Saturday night Netflix binge as much as the next gal. And who doesn’t love to indulge in a little social media scroll while enjoying a relaxing bath? 

However, we all know that our beloved digital distractions can be a huge waste of time when they have a negative impact on productivity or being present with our loved ones. Research has shown that excessive social media usage correlates with decreased attention and productivity levels, resulting in less time spent focusing on what matters most. 

Too much of a good thing will have diminishing returns, so moderation is key. This is just as true for Instagram and YouTube as it is for those yummy chocolate caramel pretzels you love so much! Set boundaries for yourself and designate specific time slots for digital indulgence to prevent it from encroaching on your valuable time. 

Time Waster 3 | Woman standing on train platform

4. Dwelling on the past

What’s done is done. You can’t change what’s already happened, and living in the past is a surefire way to squander the present. While reflection is essential for personal growth, constantly fretting over past mistakes or missed opportunities serves no purpose other than to anchor you in a state of stagnation. 

It all starts with mindfulness — the practice of being fully present and engaged in the here and now. By focusing your attention on the present moment, you can free yourself from the grip of the past and reclaim control over your life. After all, the power to shape your future lies not in dwelling on what could have been but in embracing what is and taking decisive action to create the life you want.

So the next time you find yourself caught in the endless loop of past regrets, take a deep breath and remind yourself that the past is behind you. Instead of dwelling on what could have been, acknowledge the lessons you gained  — then use that momentum to focus on the now and the endless opportunities that lie ahead. It’s time to break free from the chains of the past and embrace all the beautiful possibilities of the future.

5. Overworking or “pushing through” without rest

The hustle culture cycle is hard to break out of. While mental health advocates and businesses alike are now promoting a more balanced mindset in the workplace, there is still a lot of underlying pressure to work “just a little harder” to succeed.  As a society that still glorifies financial and professional success, we should really strive for more balance and purpose in our careers for long-term happiness.

Incessant work without adequate rest will inevitably lead to burnout. Burnout causes lower productivity, sloppy work, and a whole slew of damage to your mental and physical health.

When you’re running on empty, your cognitive function declines, your creativity stagnates, and your work suffers as a result. It’s a vicious cycle that leaves you feeling depleted and unfulfilled, trapped in a never-ending quest for productivity at the expense of your well-being. (Trust me, I’ve been there!)

It’s never too late to prioritize rest and recognize that downtime is not synonymous with laziness — it’s a vital component of sustainable productivity. 

6. Holding a grudge

In the infamous words of Elsa, just “let it go.” (Don’t lie; you totally just sang that in your head.)

Holding onto resentment towards others isn’t doing you any good; it’s merely forcing you to carry that heavy burden on your shoulders. Not only does it consume your mental and emotional energy, but it also affects your ability to maintain and create meaningful connections. 

Practice forgiveness, let it go, and release those feelings of resentment to reclaim not only your time but your peace of mind as well.

Woman preparing veggies

7. Not prioritizing your health 

When was the last time you had a check-up with your doctor? Or ate vegetables every day? Took a walk or lifted weights?

If you’re still thinking, then it’s been too long.

Just like time, your health is irreplaceable. Yet, often, we let our health sit on the back burner because life happens and we get busy.

I’ll cook a healthy dinner tomorrow. I’ll schedule my first mammogram next year. I’m sure that new mole is nothing to worry about.

Unfortunately, the longer you don’t prioritize your health, the more of your precious time you might waste in and out of doctor’s offices trying to make up for years of abuse and inattention. You could encounter complications that take away your ability to do the activities you enjoy and love. Or you could find yourself in the worst situation imaginable — simply out of time due to a health issue that may have been preventable if treated earlier.

Take care of yourself now. Nourish your body with wholesome food, exercise regularly, and prioritize preventive medical care. A healthy body and mind are the foundation for optimal productivity and well-being.

8. Worrying about things out of your control

“Worrying is like a rocking chair — it gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.”

Someone much older (and wiser) taught me this saying as a young adult, and the sentiment has always stuck with me — because it is 100% true. Dwelling on hypothetical scenarios or events beyond your control only serves to heighten anxiety and drain your mental reserves. 

In the end, it boils down to choice. You can either allow your worries to control you, or you can take control of your worries. But by becoming the master of your mind, you pave the way for a more fulfilling and purposeful life. 

As a lifelong worrywart, I can attest that pushing those relentless worries from your mind is no easy feat. So instead of letting yourself spiral into a whirlwind of “what-ifs,” allow yourself some time to lay out these fears and understand the cause for your concerns — then attempt to tuck them away until you have real reason to fret. By acknowledging your worries, you can more easily free your mind from that endless, unproductive worry cycle.

Ultimately, you hold the reins to your happiness with your mindset and how you choose to spend your time. Don’t let it slip away in a haze of worry and regret. 

Woman practicing yoga

9. Not practicing self-care

Let’s be honest: we’re big on self-care here at Breakthrough Loading (and we believe everyone should be). Self-care isn’t a fun indulgence; it’s necessary to live a happy, healthy, and holistic life. 

Make time for activities that rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul — whether indulging in a bubble bath, taking a peaceful hike in nature, or pursuing a creative hobby. Think of this as a routine obligation to yourself and schedule time on your calendar (without guilt)!

Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so prioritize self-care to replenish your reserves and show up as the best version of yourself.

10. Relationships that don’t bring you joy

Life is too short to waste in toxic or one-sided relationships that drain your energy and diminish your happiness. You have the right to be picky about who you choose to spend time with.

Surround yourself with individuals who uplift and inspire you, and distance yourself from those who radiate negativity. Sometimes, this means doing the hard thing and saying goodbye to those toxic friendships that aren’t serving you or your future. 

Remember that relationships are built together, so focus on creating meaningful connections with trust, respect, and mutual support.  You’ll be amazed at how your life will improve when surrounded by the right people.

Woman sipping coffee on windowsill with plants

Time well spent 

In our relentless pursuit of productivity and success, sometimes the line can blur between time wasted and time well spent. 

Resting when you need a break is never a waste of time; it’s a necessary component of a balanced and fulfilling life. Catching up on the latest episode of Real Housewives may be your guilty indulgence before bed every night. Relaxing on your back porch while you read one of your favorite romance thrillers isn’t a waste of time; it creates the space to enjoy life without an end goal in mind.

The bottom line is that if an activity brings you joy — whether pursuing a passion project or spending quality time with loved ones — it is time well spent. The key to happiness in life lies in finding a balance between productivity and leisure, ensuring that each moment is infused with purpose and meaning.

What is the biggest waste of time in your life? Do you have any favorite “time wasters” that bring you joy? Share your “time well spent” tips and tricks with us in the comments below.

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  1. Great insights! I especially resonate with the points of multi tasking and importance of planning ahead. It’s a powerful reminder to be intentional with our time

  2. Love these tips! So many of these time wasters really resonate with me, like multitasking and spending time in relationships that don’t bring me joy. Such a great post!

    1. Prioritizing ourselves in our relationships is such a hard thing to do, but so important for our well-being and mental health. Thanks for the comment Christine!

  3. I am definitely guilty of many of these time wasters. It is always great to have a reminder that time is important and we aren’t getting it back. I needed this one.

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