Time management is one of the biggest hurdles we face in our effort to get everything done. I often wonder, towards the end of the day, how much time have I wasted today? Sometimes I can really see where I wasted time: Playing Two Dots on my phone for forty minutes. But most of the time I have a hard time seeing it.
The unacknowledged time wasters are the real thieves.
It's when you don't see what you're up against, that you have no idea how to even fight the battle, let alone win it. So the first part of the exercise is aimed towards discovering where your time is even going. Without making any effort to change anything, write down everything you do and how long you do it for a 72 hour period. This is hard, annoying, and tedious. I get it, however, it is incredibly useful in making you aware of what you're actually doing. As you do this, try not to judge yourself or make any big changes. Just the fact that you'll be recording your activities will make you want to improve. Resist this urge, for now, because it's not going to solve any problems in the long run.
After your 72 hours of tedious note taking, evaluate your notes. Spend some real time doing this, but remember to be nice to yourself. I have a habit of meditating at 1:00 every day. This is my special time and I savor it. But sometimes that meditation slips into "I really just want to sit here for 20 more minutes" and I do. This is my rest and recharge time. There is no way I would file this under "wasted time". Time is also not wasted when you're doing fun things and enjoying the moment.
As you do this, be sure to weed out the true time wasters.
My culprits are usually sitting on the stairs in a state of indecision and scrolling through Instagram in a stupor. If you're having a hard time differentiating the time wasters from simply enjoying yourself, use your feelings as a gauge. When I'm wasting time, I feel low, blah, and unmotivated. When I'm taking a much needed break, I feel light, uplifted, and revitalized.
Wasting time will never lift you, it will only make you feel guilty.
Some time wasters will fall into different categories at different times. If you watch movies as only a form of relaxation and not a form of procrastination, it's not a waste of time. If, however, you are using it to avoid doing what you need to be doing, then it's something that you should cut.
By simply being aware of how you waste time, you are equipped to fight it.
Use this knowledge to help you move past your weaknesses and onto productive things. As you do this, more time will open up to you. You can use this time to work, to relax, and to have fun. You will then be in control of your time and how its spent.