How to Stop Wasting Your Time

If you’re like—oh, just about anyone—you’ve had that moment.

Perhaps you have it many times a week.

One minute you’re sitting down “just to check something real quick,” and what seems like the next, you’re an hour or two in.

An hour into Facebook commenting and sharing, Hulu clicking, TV watching, or thumb twiddling, you realize that you have just completely wasted an hour of your time.

You’re not recharging, relaxing, or replenishing.

Instead, you’re procrastinating, and further draining yourself, sinking further into inertia.

Stalling on taking action—any action—that will actually move you forward, feed your soul, or enhance your relationships, business, or life.

Of course, relaxing, unwinding, and unplugging are essential aspects of self-care. Any “time waster,” chosen intentionally, may have its value. Social networking can be a truly fun and potentially effective way of connecting with friends and building your business.

But there’s a huge difference between choosing to invest time in an enjoyable Facebook-fest or Hulu marathon, and doing those things on autopilot—essentially, hanging out in technology-enhanced purgatory.

Even if you feel you are being productive—you’ve been answering emails all day!!!—you may go to bed with the unpleasant realization that you’re not making progress on the things that are truly most important to you.

You’re so wrapped up in dealing with low-impact activities that you’re not investing any time in the high-impact ones.

You might be working hard for 12 hours every single day, but finding that you’re not actually moving the most essential parts of your work or life forward.

If you have a hunch you may be misusing the only 24 precious hours that you get each day, it’s time to call yourself out.

Here is my super-quick test, The Highest Priority Statement (AKA The Miley Cyrus Test), to help you move out of productivity purgatory:

Fill in this sentence with whatever you’re actually doing: _____ is my highest priority right now.

Then notice your reaction.

If the sentence rings true—go for it! Keep doing what you’re doing!

But if it sounds utterly ridiculous, get up and get going with something else that has the right to fill in that sentence.

Example: Watching Miley Cyrus twerk is my highest priority right now.

If you can get on board with that statement, great. (And dude, noooo judgment here!) Maybe you can, for whatever assortment of reasons. Maybe in the big picture, you do need to engage in passive activity or total vegging out for an hour, in order to replenish and take a real break. (Maybe twerking is very, very important to you.)

That’s why “right now” are operative words.


If your automatic response is to laugh, scoff, or roll your eyes, or come up with 10 things that are actually a higher priority, take the opportunity to make a new choice. Quick. Before the master-justifier inside you gets on the case.

Bonus! In addition to the Highest Priority Statement test, here are two questions you can practice asking throughout your day.

1. Is this my single highest priority right now?
2. What is a higher priority than this?

Try to use the HPS test—or ask one of these questions—once an hour for the next 24 hours. You’ll be amazed at how these 15-second exercises transform your awareness of how you’re choosing to spend each unrepeatable minute.

(P.S. Come back and tell us–what did you find out?)

2 thoughts on “How to Stop Wasting Your Time”

  1. I am constantly trying to get myself back on track after falling into a time-wasting abyss, usually online. This is an interesting approach and we’ll see what happens! Thanks, Carrie.

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