The most valuable thing I possess is my time. I hate, with a purple passion, having it wasted. That being said, I also know that I need to get better at avoiding what robs me of my time. It’s something we can all work on. Here are a few common time thieves with some tips for how to deal with them.
Anger. Holding on to this feeling is toxic. Have you ever asked yourself why you have anger? Make sure it isn’t misplaced. Once anger gets rolling around inside, some people just have to get it out, no matter what the cost, while others hold it all in. Neither of these options is a good use of your time or very healthy. Instead, write down your feelings and then gently discuss them with the appropriate party.
Telemarketing calls. These recordings steal moments of my life that I will never get back. I have learned some avoidance techniques, such as never answering calls from toll-free numbers or from private numbers that I don’t recognize. If it’s important, the person will leave a message, which hardly ever happens.
Television. I love TV, but you can waste hours in front of it. And like most people, I will catch myself watching something I have no interest in, just because it’s on and I’m too unmotivated to do anything else, even change the channel. It’s a good idea to pick the shows you want to watch and then, after they’re over, turn the darn thing off and get back to the real world.
Arguments. Getting into it with a loved one or a stranger is going to take away more time than the disagreement itself. You will feel the residual emotions for hours afterward. If you can’t calm yourself long enough to have a serious conversation with someone, it’s something you need to work on.
Door knockers. I could get a sign that says “No Solicitors,” but it just seems tacky to have that on my front door. Still, sometimes the bell rings, and I throw on a robe to walk downstairs and find out that it’s someone trying to sell me something. I save a little time by simply saying that it’s my personal policy to buy nothing from anyone who knocks on my door. Politeness is key.
Junk mail. This comes both on the computer and in the mailbox, and it’s best to just deal with it rather than waste more time with being annoyed. I put junk mail in the paper-recycling bin, so at least it’s not going into landfills. I also spend several minutes every day deleting junk e-mails. I try to keep improving my filters, but some will always get through, so I guess I have to accept this, at least for now.
These time wasters are taking away tiny pieces of our lives. Some are easier to avoid than others. Ultimately, you will save the most time, and will enjoy your life more, by not getting caught up in negative emotions about it.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, is the author of “The Happy Couple – How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com.