Monday, 7 April 2014

Stop Pre-Wasting Time!

I recently talked about Killing Time Thieves but today I became aware of another time thief: pre-wasting time.

I worked on a couple of projects this morning, then ran on the treadmill for 25 minutes. When I got out of the shower, I found myself thinking 'by the time I eat a late lunch and watch Neighbours, it's going to be 3:30pm. That's pretty much the whole day gone.' But wait  I don't go to bed until 10:30pm at the earliest. That's 7 hours — longer than I had been awake!

I was ready to write off the whole day before it was half over. I was pre-wasting time.

Sure, it's harder to concentrate when my parents and brother come home from work. But it also means there are other people to keep an eye on my very naughty puppy. There's no reason why I shouldn't get things done in the evenings, especially as I'm often more alert, yet I tend not to plan my work for the evenings.

Perhaps it's just laziness, but I think it's more complicated. When scheduling work, it's easier to imagine filling the long, blank spaces in your day  even with lots of things  than it is to imagine getting work done in the gap between walking the dogs and cooking dinner. Yet this time is just as valuable as time during the day,

I find it easier when I have deadlines to meet; I grab all the time I can, even if it's 10 minutes here and there. I know from experience that using chunks of time in the evening can be productive, yet I only think of using it when I'm under pressure. I could create pressure by Powering Through, but I need a longer term solution. I need to change my attitude.

Pre-wasting time can lead to more than a lost evening of work: how many of us write off goals because we think we'll never achieve them or it's too late in our lives? I used to think I was too old to go to university  at the grand old age of 22! In my defence, I was very depressed at the time. I was also very wrong.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that although life is short, there's plenty of time left. Mindfulness is a great aid for reminding yourself to live in the moment. I've been dabbling with it for a while now and saw this great post today, which has mindfulness exercises that are easy for anyone to use.

So whether you're in danger of pre-wasting your day, your week or the rest of your life — stop!

You have time and how you use it is up to you. You may not see how you can achieve your goals in the hour between the kids going to bed and the 10 o' clock news, but you can. By the way, I went to university at 24 and loved it so much that I stayed on to do my MA — and I wasn't the oldest on either of my courses. As for tonight... I have a story that needs drafting and some reading to do and some organising I'd like to complete  wish me luck!


  1. A great post, Hayley. I'm very guilty of this. However, I've solved it to some extent because I've discovered I'm at my best in the mornings. So I get up really early and start writing straightaway. This means that when I finish in the late afternoon/early evening, I have covered every single hour of the day from before dawn. I'm so tired that it's as much as I can do to cook and watch television with the family. My eyes start closing before 9pm.

    The mornings are useful because my brain is fresh and uncluttered. There are fewer distractions and a special kind of peace - almost a reverential kind of hush - in the air. And I don't feel guilty about not writing any later than about 5pm because I've been engrossed in it for twelve hours by then.

    However, I do know what you mean about pre-wasting time because there are some mornings when I mess about procrastinating on the internet and it gets to about 6am and I start thinking, 'Might as well read for a bit and have a shower, then take out the rubbish/load the washing-machine', etc etc. Eventually I realise I've been up since before daybreak doing ordinary things I could easily have done during the main part of the day. So the time is only useful if I actually use it!

    I love Mindfulness and I shall go and have a look at that post now. Many thanks, Hayley, and have a great day's writing. x

  2. Enjoyed your post, Hayley, and I'll check out the Mindfulness site. I never think about the time I waste in the evenings but I do like to relax with a good TV programme or drama. I am trying to use part of it for reading through magazines and such like so that doesn't encroach on my writing time.

  3. Thank you for your comments, Joanna and Rosemary. I wish I was more alert in the mornings — no matter what time I get up, I'm never properly awake before 11am!

  4. I find the evenings the absolute best time to work. No interruptions from colleagues, the kids are quietly in bed etc. I tried flipping it and starting early for a while, but found that if I made even the slightest noise the kids would be awake and feigning starvation to get breakfast out of me ...

    1. My main problem at the moment is Murray's mission to turn my trainers into backless mules! They're only old ones I use to walk the dogs, but I would like them to stay on my feet when I'm in the woods :-)