Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

9 Ways to Find More Time in Your Day

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One of the things we dislike the most is when somebody wastes our time.

  • The somewhat older, slower driver in front of you.
  • The slow pump at the gas station.
  • The cashier who needs a “price check.”
  • The crowded bathroom at halftime.
  • The doctor who makes you wait 2 hours.

Why can’t people be more considerate? Why do they go about as if you have all day?

photo by marco_dmoz (Creative Commons)

You have been there. Wait and wait and wait.

Sometimes we even get mad about it. We tell people off. We let them know.

Stop wasting my time!

When you look back at your day, searching for lost minutes, time you can never get back, what do you find? Is the problem external forces that were out of your control? Or was the real problem you?

If you are honest, you can only point the finger at yourself. You waste more of your time than anybody else.

Yes, traffic can be horrible. You wouldn’t have tried purchase the shirt if you had noticed it didn’t have a price tag on it. And doctors usually make you wait. Sorry.

But your day is littered with lost opportunities. Time lost. Maybe even time killed.

If you learn to limit these time wasters and harness the lost opportunities, then your ability to get more done will increase.

Here are 7 easy ways to help you waste less of your own time.

1. Get up an hour earlier. It is important to get a good night’s rest. Instead of staying up late and sleeping until the last minute, try going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. You are likely to find that an extra hour each morning can be your most productive time of the day.

2. Turn off the Television. There are numerous time wasters, but this is a good place to start. According to, in 2009 the average American watched 5 hours of TV a day. Maybe you are less than average (or is it above average in this case?), but even 2 hours per day is a lot of time. That adds up to 14 hours per week. Thirty-five if you are average.

3. Make a Plan. Not enough of us plan out our day. We can find space for more, if we are intentional. I am all for spontaneity. Be flexible, but plan everything you know you need to fit in. Exercise. Sleep. Reading. Turning off the television. Date night. Planning uses the time better. Plus you spend less time deciding what to do right now.

4. Learn to say no. Over commitment plagues us. The only way you can learn to say no is to understand what is important. Does this request from someone fit in with your plan? Is this more important than what you are spending your time on right now? If not, don’t do it. Focus on doing what is important.

5. Buy a Kindle or a Nook. There will be lapses of time in your day. To some degree this is out of your control. Be prepared by having something to read with you all of the time. E-readers make it easier to read when you find yourself waiting. Plus they can sync with your smartphone, so you don’t even have to remember to bring it. Plus you can read something that helps you learn how to keep saving time.

6. Limit distractions. Multitasking is a myth. You can only do one thing well. When you let distractions interrupt your work, you waste time. The distraction itself takes some time. Then you have to refocus on what you were doing.  By limiting such interferences, you can get your work done faster.

7. Remove the Games from your Smartphone. I love games. They are fun. They are challenging. They can make you think. But I find it really hard to limit the time spent on them. Instead of trying to control this, just remove them. If they aren’t there, you spend too much time playing them.

8. Fix problems early. By dealing with issues that come up early, we can keep from wasting our own time later. Fix that leaky faucet. Answer that person’s question. Stain that deck. Taking care of problems early can save the time and energy required to fix them when they become bigger problems.

9. Put items away. How much time have you spent looking for something such as your keys? When you put things in their place, they are easier to find. Plus a clutter free space make you feel better. Feeling better makes you more efficient.

These are just a few suggestions on how you can get more out of your day. Now it is up to you to use that time well.

The goal isn’t just to save time, but to spend that extra time doing something worthwhile. Living a life with purpose.

How do you waste your own time? How do you save time?

Leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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50 Replies

  1. You’re not one of those doctors who makes us wait 2 hours, are you? 😉     I had to wait almost 3o minutes in the Walmart line yesterday and I was actually very calm during the whole process.  That’s not the norm for me. Usually, waiting makes me anxious on the inside.  You are right, usually we are time wasters and we only have ourselves to blame.  Like Twitter and FB…I consciously have to stay away from it  if I want to get anything done. 

  2. It’s funny how people complain about how long they have to wait, but they will also complain that you didin’t spend enough time with them. You have to pick one and stick with it.

    I stayed away from the social media issue, but it can be a huge tim killer.

  3. Jeremy, this is fantastic. I especially love #4. In fact I just wrote something about that this morning. I’ll share that with you once I’ve worked on it a little more. I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

  4. I have difficulty saying no, especially when I know I can help.  As you can surmise, this usually comes at my own expense (of time with family or friends).

    My biggest time savers are ones you mentioned.  Have a plan for the day – mine is flexible, but contains what I need to get done that day, and that week.  When I find a little down time, I know what I should be working on.  

    *Tip – just recently my planning has finally included laying out my clothes the night before.  Since I’ve been going to the gym before work, I was trying to maximize my sleeping time.  Now I wake up, go to the gym, come home and shower while coffee is brewing, then have plenty of “reading/quiet time” before I go to work.  It amazes me how much time in the morning has been saved by simply putting my wardrobe together for the next day.

  5. I forgot to mention that waiting in traffic is my kryptonite.  I have no idea why I’m okay with other forms of lines, but being in traffic can drive me mad if I let it.

  6. Excellent tips, Jeremy! 

    Planning is probably the biggest help for me.  Without a plan, I find that I simply ‘bump around’ and don’t make much progress on anything.

    Putting things away.  Ouch!  You got me on that one.  I need to do a much better job (and teach my kids to do a better job too).  I waste a lot of time looking for things.  And it makes my blood pressure go into the danger zone. 

    Thanks for sharing such great ideas. 


  7. Bloody brilliant.

    What if every delay was used for prayer or personal reflection?

    Maybe we can see the time “wasted” as God’s invitation to see others as well.

  8. I like your suggestions very much. The only thing I thought you were going to suggest that you didn’t was this – when you find yourself in one of those mind-boggling waits, take some deep breaths and relax. Also, if you’re a writer, you should always have something to write with (pen) and on (notebook, index cards), and take advantage of a long wait to put down some words. Planning your day, de-cluttering, turning off the TV – and staying off Facebook! – are excellent ways to wrestle the day back for yourself. Thank you!

  9. I wrote a blog post recently about how you can waste time by waiting, since it locks you into a “I don’t want to miss the starting pistol” mentality. #5 was a part of my suggestion.

    Another part of it is: Stop waiting and do something! The car won’t leave without you, and I’m sure you won’t miss too much of your favorite TV show if you walk out of the room for one minute.

    Of course, I’m crummy at following my own advice.

  10. I do most of these things to a fault. Although, I do still find night to be more productive for me than mornings. When I work in the morning, I’m always thinking about what’s coming next and I’m too scared to get into something for risk of having to stop to go to work. Other than that, I’m Type-A planner who just skips the doctor completely to avoid the wait. I don’t have cable, no games on my phone, no internet at home even. But that means I spend my spare time trying to steal internet from neighboring businesses. (One of which is my employer, so I don’t feel bad about using their internet). It also means I check my phone obsessively.


  11. Jeremy this is a great post. Although your list is simple most people seem to not really want to trade things like TV and sleep to gain more productivity.  I’ll send you a post I am working on on a similar topic.  Great picture also.

  12. Tons of great stuff Jeremy. I’ve implemented 1, 2, 4, and 5 so far. 

    By getting up an hour early, I’ve been able to squeeze in that exercise time that always seemed to be elusive. Now it’s there and done. 

    I love my Kindle but find it awkward to bring it places. How do you deal with bringing it to appointments and the like? 

  13. I try to always have something to read, a small book that I can tuck away when needed.  I also just relish the quiet moments when I do have to wait, using it as an opportunity to reflect on my day, my life, and what I hope to accomplish.  With four little ones running around, these moments are priceless-they’re also the reasons I still stay up later than most-it’s more peaceful at our house at 2am, then when the sun comes up 😉  

  14. I hear you Christine. Time to reflect can be extremely valuable.

  15. I take a bag everywhere, so it just goes in there. But having the kindle app on your smartphone also makes it easy to take places that might be a bit awkward.

  16. For me, I didn’t intentionally trade TV for my time. It just happened. I found better things to do. Now if I “try” to watch TV, I am so bored I can’t stand it.

  17. Do you lose any time by checking your phone frequently?

  18. I am definitely a proponent of “Stop waiting and do something.” This type of waiting absolutely kills us.

  19. You can definitely spend too much time worrying about an outcome. There comes a time when you need to stop thinking about it, make a decision, and just see what happens.

  20. That’s another good option. Certainly better than getting angry about waiting.

  21. That would make it a lot easier to take the Kindle with me. I never carry a bag around. Sometimes I think it would make life easier but haven’t found anything that’s caught my eye in my price range. 

  22. I struggle with that too. I traveled this weekend and had to look for a number of items. Probably lost 30 minutes minimum.

  23. I like the laying clothes out tip. Basically anything you can do the night before so you don’t have to think or plan the next morning seems to be a good way to save some time.

  24. I switched jobs last year and this was one of the main reasons. i didn’t have the guts to tell people no and it affected their expectations of me and my ability to function. Awful. 

  25. I use a Patagonia messenger bag. It’s black so it looks somewhat professional, but light and easy to use. I also have a small patagonia backpack that is less “professional” but easy to carry stuff in.

  26. “6. Limit distractions.” hmmmm interesting concept….

  27. Jeremy,

    Great post and insight!

    How do I waste my time? *cough social media cough* ha! 

    How do I save my time? I don’t lol.

    Actually, I already do almost everything you listed. I don’t watch TV any more and I’ve learned the value of the word “No.” Considering most of my life I’ve been a “Yes” person. 

    What has really helped me is having my day on a set schedule.  Everyday is spent in the same way so it creates habit and routine.  My work schedule is pretty flexible so I’ve been able to adjust my schedule accordingly.

    The one area that I would say that needs more time is my time with God and Bible Study.

    Any helpful advice on this? Aside from “Just do it!” lol

  28. Yeeeesss…. way too much. As weird as this sounds, I’m most productive with my email open because I don’t get that many emails that aren’t notifications and knowing notifications will come to me I don’t have to go check for them repeatedly.


  29. Funny. They key is finding something that works. For me, I just stopped working on a blog post after getting en email about this comment, so we are opposites. I need to turn my email off. : )

  30. Get back to work. If I got this email while blogging, I’d respond to you then return to my blogging… it’s like a built-in sixty-second break rather than an uncontrollable break of checking DISQUS, Twitter, facebook, et al.


  31. I checked this one too!

  32. I waste my time by not making a decision to do something, which is probably perpetuated by my lack of organization (especially at work). I have too many “projects” laying around my desk which means I see them all and have a difficult time sticking to one. A couple busy weeks coming up, you have encouraged me to clean off my desk (or at least hide everything and pull one thing out at a time to work on it. Thanks, Jeremy!

  33.  Those sound interesting. I’ll have to take a look at them and see if they’re something I’d like. Patagonia makes some awesome stuff.

  34. This is the one I use and am very happy with it. Of course it doesn’t matter too much which company you use. But I like the tribe that Patagonia has made.

  35. Sounds like a good place to start, Nick. Let me know how it works for you.

  36. Schedules are good. I struggle sticking to one myself.

    Yesterday Michael Hyatt posted about this. His scheduling is pretty intense, but he gets a ton done.

  37. Good looking bags. Great colors, especially the olive and lime colors.

    Thanks for showing me what you use.

  38. These are some very practical ways to save time. Each morning I write down on a 3×5 card my days goal and tasks. I have found it very helpful when it comes to being focused and saving time. Great post.

  39. I think that is a great way to focus on what is important. THanks for the idea.

  40. It’s worked for me. Your welcome:) 

  41. I love it.  I keep yearly goals in my wallet, but I like the action step of writing the daily ones fresh each day.  Great tip!

  42. I also carry a small messenger bag with me everywhere.  It has simplified my life and also kept everything out of my pockets.  I can’t imagine not having it now.

  43.  Smart idea!  I keep a short stack of 3×5 index cards in my pocket; bound with a binder clip.  Used for notes and task reminders, it works great.  But goals?  Geez!  I need to make that part of my daily routine too.  Thanks very much for the tip!

  44. Nick:  Get a copy of “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.  It is a great resource and has literally changed my life.  It’s full of great tips to get you focused and organized.

  45.  Jeremy – I watch very little TV these days.  There’s a lot of stuff on that I have NO interest in.  I wish Comcast would create an a-la-carte system.  : – )

    I spend my “TV-time” either reading or blogging.

  46. thanks, Michael. I have read the book and subscribe to the GTD listserve. I have implemented some things, but there are weeks where my schedule is so chaotic at work, I have time only for the “dump and run” and it piles up quickly!

  47. I hear you!  I hope you’re having a good week, dude!  Chaos is no fun.

  48. Great action-item list. I love my Kindle, but even before e-readers, I always carried a book with me everywhere I went — with a couple of extra in my car. 🙂

  49. I procrastinate getting things done that I don’t want to do by saying “I’m Hungry” and then finding something to eat. One thing I am good at, when I’m cleaning empty houses, is listening to business podcasts. I feel I’ve learned so much from other people.

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