Money & Time, How We Waste It

Wasted time, Money, personal finance, lean management“The average American walks 4 miles each year making their bed”

How often does someone enter your room to judge you each day? Would it really make a difference if they did?

“The average office worker spends 50 minutes each day looking for lost files and other items.”

You may or may not care, but whoever is signing your paycheck probably will!

“The average person spends 3 years of their life on the toilet.”

I picked up these three quotes in less than 20 minutes this morning. All 3 quotes came from an app on my son’s iTouch called Cool Facts. Combined, these activities may represent 5 years of your life; wasted. OK, maybe the last one isn’t entirely a waste :-).  Take a moment and think about all the things that take time out of your life, but add no value.

The average American watches 142 hours of TV each month.

The average travel time to work is 25.5 minutes.

2.1 hours are eaten up each day by interruptions.

It is a wonder that we can accomplish as much as we do each year.

This article was featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance hosted by Get Rich Slowly. Please check out this carnival for many other great articles about personal finance.

Too often the power to eliminate the wasted time in our life is within our reach. Have you ever really take made the effort to consider how much time you waste? For most, a few minutes of reflection will raise the most obvious, likely including those listed above. What about other opportunities?

Bulk Opportunities –

Where and what do you spend large blocks of time on? – Are there opportunities to more effectively use these blocks?

  • Beyond the Television, time in front of a PC or video game can easily become excessive. Entertainment is an important part of a fulfilling life but certainly some of this time could be better spend on more valuable activities.
  • Are you a gym rat? How much time is really spent burning the fat versus getting there and getting ready? Is it time to rethink your strategy?
  • Socializing can be another huge time sink. I don’t suggest we blow off our friends, I only suggest that we be strategic about it.

Repetitive Activities –

What activities do you repeat routinely? – Are there opportunities to complete these more efficiently?

  • Is your kitchen really organized for efficiency or do you spend a lot of time walking back and forth?
  • Are forms, reports and files organized in your desk or filing cabinet for easy location and retrieval?
  • Do you and your better half fight over the bathroom while grooming? Is there an opportunity for either to streamline their process?

Total Wasted Time –

Where and when is your time completely wasted? Is there a way to more effectively use this time?

  • Waiting – Through the course of the year you will waste a lot of time at the doctors office, the line at the post office or at Walmart. Could you always be prepared with reading material, your calendar or a list of phone calls you need to make?
  • Distractions – For every piece of necessary mail how many pieces of junk must you wade through? Op-out of the mailing lists.
  • Technologically Handicaps – How much time is wasted because people don’t know how to efficiently use technology? Just learning keyboard shortcuts such as Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+A, Ctrl+S and Ctrl+F makes life much easier.

Over 500 words and not one dollar sign? Obviously the concepts presented focus more on time, but as we all know time is money. Accomplishing more provides the opportunity to make more money or the opportunity to save more money. More importantly, I have found, is that a more efficient lifestyle allows you more opportunities to enjoy your life. Spending more time with your family, friends or hobbies, in many ways can be much more rewarding then earning a few more dollars.

Readers: I know I have only scratched the surface, please share some other examples of where we waste time in the comments below!

p.s. Visit again over the weekend for a voyeuristic view of how other people spend their time… I promise it is fascinating!

If you like to be challenged to see things with a fresh perspective, if you like to learn new ideas and different concepts, sign up for my RSS feed or enter your email address here to receive updates directly to your in-box.

photo by Grahambone

9 comments to Money & Time, How We Waste It

  • I’m definitely guilty of wasting time, especially on the interwebs. When I really want to stay on task, I use Kuku Klok (, an online alarm clock, to keep me on schedule.

    I recently purchased a Wii and only bought fitness related games to go with it. A friend of mine wanted to know why I didn’t buy any “fun” games. I told her I didn’t need another thing in my home that would entice me to waste time. That’s what Clicker and Twitter are for.

    Being disorganized not only wastes time, but it also wastes money…directly. While organizing my pantry about a week or so ago, I discovered I had two practically full containers of paprika. I noticed the same for red pepper. This certainly wasn’t intentional.
    .-= Shawanda´s last blog ..How NOT to Lose Your FSA Money =-.

  • Hi Coach, you are truly an inspiration. Lots of good stuff recently that I really needed to hear. My office is organized so I can find everything quickly and easily but I need to take your advice for my house – I’ve been there for a year now and I still can’t find half my stuff when I need it. I’ve been seriously contemplating creating a schedule for things I do at home and timing the kids activities but haven’t had the motivation to follow through (therefore I’m always stressed out and things don’t get done or get done later than they should). I think this article was just the kick in the pants I needed.

    I’ll check back this weekend to see what you’ve got!
    .-= David @ MBA briefs´s last blog ..You, Inc.: 5 ways to manage your life more like a business =-.

  • Great post, I personally try to multi-task while doing wasteful activities (if possible). For instance, if you are commuting to work or driving on vacation, why not listen to an audio-books…

    I personally found that listening to an audio-book, made my vacation drive enjoyable, unlike the chore I use to hate.

    I especially like your point about the waste of time while driving to workout! Based on the wasted time driving to workout (not to mention the gym membership cost), it would make more sense to workout at home or occasionally at a friend’s house.

    Keep them coming! 🙂
    .-= [email protected]´s last blog ..Stop Waiting For Magical Moments To Happen =-.

  • I waste a lot of time thinking, when I should be acting. Planning my plan, then planning that plan, over and over because I don’t want to make the wrong choice… in hindsight it’s easy to see, but it’s hard to overcome for me… maybe because there are just too many darn options!
    .-= Ryan @ Planting Dollars´s last blog ..Seeds of Knowledge 2.5.10 =-.

  • I don’t think I waste…hey did I just see something shiny…oh…wait… where was I… right, wasting time. Yes, I am afraid I’m easily distracted and then I lose track of what I was doing, then I can’t figure out why I didn’t accomplish all the things I wanted to accomplish. Ugly cycle.

    This weekend I am vowing to get a bit more organized. If I don’t keep a list and follow it, it’s all over, so I am going to stop typing here and go make my list. Thanks for the inspiration, Coach!
    .-= Tracy´s last blog ..Eco Fraud Friday: Energy, Food, Water =-.

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    @Shawanda – Video Games (arggg) the scourge of the universe! (I’m a recovering game-aholic!)- Thanks for sharing the example! My wife just went through the same thing but said I couldn’t share it!

    @David – Thanks for the compliment! My hack writing needs all the encouragement it can get. It is funny how we can be organized in one area of our life and a complete mess in another. (Don’t look in my garage!)

    @Don – I hope you borrow the audio books from the library! I like the first one somebody gave me, until I saw how much they cost, ouch.

    @Ryan – I hate the 80/20 rule (I’ve found it is rarely accurate) but in you case maybe you should use it. Think until you have 80% of your necessary information and then begin. You can always adjust along the way. btw.. Thanks for the link!

    @Tracy – LOL – Are you ADD too? All my research says we can’t effectively multitask but my brain doesn’t seem to believe it. I hate when I suddenly realize I have 6 or 7 windows open and I’m trying to do something different with each one.

  • Coach, you preach to the choir (pardon the cliche).
    I’m finally doing the real work to eliminate stuff and be more organised this month. It’s depressing to see the current state but I need to take actions.
    I think I’m guilty of almost all of the “offenses” above except the gym part… that’s because I haven’t been there for a few weeks … I don’t waste my movement :).
    .-= Bytta @151 Days Off´s last blog ..Day 14: The February Purge Challenge =-.

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    Bytta:- I’ve heard that ladies in Australia have no need to go to the gym because they are already in great shape! Kudos on the organization effort! We just donated a bunch of stuff but I’m thinking I will use your February Challenge to push the wife a little bit further!

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