11 Alarming Signs That You Are Wasting Your Time (and what to do about it)

Daily you waste time that could be used to pursue your dreams. Here are the signs you’re wasting your time and the strategies you can use to avoid that.
Stop wasting time sign board

You get 24 hours in a day. Do you make good use of all the time you get? Maybe not. You’re not in charge or control of this invaluable time, all the time. You do not realize but you spent a chunk of your time in diversions you face like watching TV, being on mobile phones, and hanging out with friends. Thus, you waste time – the time that you could have used for improvement, progress, success, and get more happiness in life. Here are the signs that you’re wasting your time and what strategies you can use to avoid doing so and being more in charge of your life. ~ Ed.

In his 2003 book ‘time management’, Marc Mancini introduced the idea of an imaginary ‘time bank’. A bank that ‘credits you every morning with 86400 dollars and every night writes off as lost whatever amount you failed to use to your advantage’. 

This bank ‘carries no balance, permits no overdrafts, and if you fail to make full use of the day’s deposit, you lose it’.

As a banking customer, will you leave unspent any 86400 dollars?! Of course not!

You’d want to spend, and invest every penny, every day, I’m sure.

Leaving yours to be written off would be unwise, especially if you’re made aware that this daily stipend will not last forever.

But rash as it sounds, in reality, that’s what many are doing.

Your time is your daily 86400 cash for investment. When used wisely, it will reconcile your ambitions with reality.

It will grow, nurture, and harvest the seed of greatness in you. And make you the person of your dreams.


11 alarming signs that you are wasting your time

Time-wasting may begin with a simple ‘decompressing’ and ‘relaxing’ activity that gradually begins to take up chunks of your time. And before long, it becomes a major part of your routine.

With the array of 21st-century technology, taking charge of your time has never been more crucial – and difficult. There are no shortages of diversions willing to have your time.

And, if you don’t control it, something – and by extension, someone – else will. 

Here are 11 signs that you may already be losing the controls, what you can do about it.

You spend a lot of time on the screen

The internet has created a culture of high-speed entertainment and gratification. TV series can now be consumed from the comfort of our mobile phones, effortlessly and on-the-go.

There’s always a release to catch up on. On social media, there’s a new trend, a fad, some ‘dramatic’ event.

Our ‘timelines’ and ‘feeds’ are relentlessly flooded with perfect looking pictures of celebs on some beach or holiday resort. And then there are the friends of the yesteryears who’d like to keep in touch.

Everyone is fighting to make their voice heard and tug you into a pseudo world of likes, shares, comments, replies, and views. 

If your job description encompasses watching movies or spending time on social media, awesome! If not, then consciously police your screen time.

Because when left unchecked, time spent on the screen can quickly turn from relaxation to time-wasting. If you are not being informed, educated, and having value added to your life, then that’s confirmation that you are wasting your time.

You have difficulty concentrating

Torrents of notifications are not ideal for concentration. Research has shown that it takes about 23 minutes to get back in the swing of things after a notification (or distraction) of some sort.


Between physical interactions, never-ending emails, and social media, the average person is bombarded with a series of these notifications every day. This may create an automated response in your brain, to the degree that even when there is no notification, you are subconsciously expecting the phone to buzz. 

When this happens, your thoughts and efforts will not be fully directed towards one particular task.

Repeated lack of concentration – with no underlying health reason – is an indicator that somewhere in your general routine is an activity that is wasting your time.

You don’t feel motivated

Depending on your use of time, waking up can be a chore or a delightful start to a bright new day.

Lack of motivation is evidenced by gloominess merely thinking about the day’s activities. You detest the sound of the alarm clock and may roll over in your bed again and again (maybe catch up on some social media notifications whilst at it), trying to will away the day.

In contrast, someone who’s motivated would get up like a lion about to eat the day. It may be hard work, yes; but one to look forward to nonetheless.

Tiredness and lack of motivation will be an exception rather than the norm. Being repeatedly unenthusiastic about the use of your time is often an indicator that you are wasting it.

You are full of excuses

One who is wasting time is always – ironically – full of excuses. There is always a reason for not doing what is required. Today it’s the weather. Tomorrow, it’s the traffic. And the day after, maybe the sun for coming off the wrong way.

If you find yourself always making excuses for not doing a necessary job or task; then chances are you’d rather be doing something else. And as such, you are wasting time.  

Moreover, when rendered repeatedly, your mind may interpret excuses as the truth, and a genuine reason for inaction.

Whatever you think, that you will be. If you think yourself weak, weak you will be. If you think yourself strong, you will be.

-Swami Vivekananda

Your friends…

Our associations produce a language and character rub-off, causing us to become like those with whom we associate.

Who are your friends? Are they the kind who’d be likely to recommend a new book or a 635 episode TV series? Are they uninspired and uninspiring? Do they motivate and leave you with renewed belief after conversations? Or, do they zap away energy, without adding an iota of value to your life?

A good way to measure ourselves is by the company we keep. If your closest associates are wasting their time, you too are wasting your time.

You aren’t learning something new

Benjamin Franklin observes that ‘an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest’. A ‘knowledge investment’ can be from anything. Books, blogs, apps, even social media, when used correctly.

Change begins from the mind. The reason you act the way you do is primarily because of the information you have. Change the information and you’d act differently.

And have different results. 

When you are not learning, you are not ‘changing your mind’, and you are not growing. And if you are not growing, what on earth are you doing? 

Question: Can you pinpoint one thing you’ve learned in the past month?

If not, then you may want to re-examine your routine.

You seem to do a lot, but accomplish little

Being active throughout a day is no indication that one accomplished anything throughout that day. Activity is not accomplishment and in Thomas Edison’s words, ‘seeming to do is not doing’.

If you find yourself working long hours, but cannot definitely identify what you’ve achieved, then something is wrong with how you are spending your time. Because when we waste time, activity rarely translates to accomplishment.

Maybe it’s a lack of clear and concise goals, or more ominously, an absence of direction altogether? Or you may simply be having difficulty concentrating?

Writing daily goals and seeing to the achievement of these goals will increase your focus and turn an activity into accomplishment.

You spend a lot of time thinking about your past

Observe your mind, and pay recognition to your thoughts. You’d notice that there’s a consistent pattern – a place ‘where your mind goes when it wanders’. Where is that place?

Is it in the bitter past, nostalgic past, present, or future?

Repeated nostalgia or rumination about the past – feeling bitterness and resentment for prior actions – is a misuse of time. It adds no value to the present and, doesn’t make you better.

Whatever emotional scarring event you’ve had in the past, today is the day to let go. You should learn, forgive, and move on. 

Seek counseling, if necessary. The past is not an investment worthy of your time.

You are unhappy

Productivity, happiness, and time usage are closely linked.

When you waste time, you become less productive, and the less productive you are, the less happy you will be.

The reverse is also true.

Time is the very unit of life and you are excited when you spend it wisely. Oftentimes, negative emotions are your core’s way of telling you that you should be doing something else.

Perhaps you should create more time to invest in hobbies, spend with your family, and even think more. The point is having some me-time.

This will re-energize you and inject more happiness into your life.

You know more about the news than your job/craft

The world is ever-changing and a profession wouldn’t be the same as it was the year you left school or ‘finished’ learning. A change will have occurred in some way, shape, and form. 

New knowledge and insight may have been gained, and seemingly infallible truths may have been rendered obsolete.

When you are aware of the events in every corner of the world, can analyze the news to the minute detail, know about the turmoil, the wars, the strife, but you don’t know as much about your job/craft, that’s a sign that you are wasting your time.

You worry about what others are doing

You are the protagonist of your life and not the supporting character in someone else’s story.

In Stewart Johnson’s words, ‘Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves – to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by today, to do our work with more force than ever before’.

Do you find yourself reacting based on someone else’s actions and not acting out of your convictions? We all have a unique (maybe similar, but unique!) pathway in life and your duty is to find yours.  

Trying to compete with someone and become better than them is a sure-fire sign that you haven’t found your path, and are wasting time.

Successful people never worry about what others are doing.

Wrapping up

Can you identify any of these signs in your life? No need to worry, starting from now, you can decide to take charge of your time! How?

First, begin by setting out to accomplish something every day. Have clearly-written and well-defined goals.

You could rank these goals in order of significance and delegate time slots for their achievement. This will provide a compass for your day and remind you of your priorities.

To ensure that you remain on track and focus solely on the achievement of your goals, you should screen out distractions. Turning off notifications and scheduling time for emails, and social media may – depending on the nature of your job – be highly beneficial.

Remember to also create time for rest and relaxation.

Also, surrounding yourself with people who understand the value of time will be helpful. They’d inspire you, teach you to manage time, and chide you, when necessary.

As a final point, always keep in mind that you are unique. There is an Apple breeding in your thoughts, a Microsoft waiting to be birthed, and an Amazon yet to be unleashed.

Don’t waste your time.

Use it wisely and astound us with the greatness that is in you.   

Over to you

Have you noticed any of these signs in your life? What will you do about it? And, if you manage your time effectively, what are your strategies?

Head over to the comment section and let’s talk!


Disclaimer: Though the views expressed are of the author’s own, this article has been checked for its authenticity of information and resource links provided for a better and deeper understanding of the subject matter. However, you're suggested to make your diligent research and consult subject experts to decide what is best for you. If you spot any factual errors, spelling, or grammatical mistakes in the article, please report at [email protected]. Thanks.

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  1. We all have the same amount of time in a day. It all comes how one chose to spend his or her’s.Avoiding time-wasting activities makes all the difference. And yes gossiping,complaining, watching t.v, empty promise without any action should be avoided totally when it comes to times management. Thinking about future and working on it will be much helpful.Thank you for sharing this post its an interesting topic.

  2. Hi Marho,

    Good to see you here at Harleen’s space with a timely post.

    Indeed this is a timely alert to the people who waste their time.

    Surely, we all just waste a lot of time looking at screens!

    Though it become a part and parcel of our new age life, we need to have a thorough check, in this area to control ourselves to save more time for other activities.

    Your concluding words are really uplifting!

    Yes, I can very well relate to the first one. Yes, as you said, there is no need to worry, we can start afresh for the time left ahead. Yes, we can decide to take charge of the primary and very essential ones to look into it and rest we can avoid.

    This really a checklist to all, I am saving it for my further check!

    Keep sharing

    Thanks, Harleena for this wonderful share


    ~ Phil

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Phil!

      We all can – at one point or another – relate to the first one.

      But the most important thing as you’ve rightly mentioned is that there’s always room to start afresh, and even now, decide to take charge!

    1. It will, Elli!

      Because you have the ability to make it work!

      Thanks for your comment.

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