Home » Writers' Minds » Let’s Get Serious About Time Wasters

Let’s Get Serious About Time Wasters

Get Serious About Time WastersTo borrow a phrase, “Can we talk?”  Can we have a serious conversation about a universal issue? Yes? Good.

Let’s talk about time wasters. Oh, no you don’t. Come back here. Have a seat. Here, have some coffee. And a cookie. Have two. Feeling better?

We all have them.

I’ll confess first. Years ago, pre-internet, my biggest time waster was television. I had to get brutal. My kids grew up without commercial television because I had to get rid of it. These days I average an hour a week. (I’m not saying everyone should be so drastic, but it was right for me).

And then came the internet, and I’m right back into having to get serious about my time wasters. Skype (which I can totally justify . . . most of the time), email, podcasts, social media. The list is long.

How about you? What are your default pastimes that steal the hours?

So what do we do about it?

I’m not a big believer in artists needing to dramatically sacrifice things for their art. I think we should live our lives so we have something to write about. Having said that, I do believe we need to be aware and eliminate problem areas that cut into our creative time.

So how do we do it?

Well, you can be brutal about some things, like TV, but as an author, the internet is required for many daily tasks. Jeff Vandermeer, in his book Booklife, tells of having his wife hide the router in the morning when she left the house. When he’d done his work for the day he would call her and find out where she hid it. Other authors use programs like Freedom that allow them to customize which parts of the internet are off limits during writing sessions. Still others have removed email and internet apps from their phones and disciplined themselves to keep the browser closed.

What would work for you? That’s something only you can answer. I’m still looking for solutions myself, even contemplating giving my internet dongle thingie to a family member when I need to avoid distraction. I also use a timer. A lot.

Here’s where to start:

  • Keep a time log so you know where you spend your time.
  • Study that log after you have a week’s worth of data to figure out your weak spots.
  • Make a plan to combat the worst of your time wasters. Get your significant other or roommate on board.
  • Get help if you need it. Get someone to hide your router, use Freedom (Mac) or similar software, use Write or Die or Ilys for writing sessions.

Know that you are not alone. I’ll be right there with you.


Have you identified your biggest time waster? What is your plan to eliminate or control it?

16 thoughts on “Let’s Get Serious About Time Wasters

  1. Reblogged this on The 960 Writers and commented:
    I feel this so much! But the thing is, I don’t really feel like I’m wasting my time on the internet, I socialize, I learn, I write… But at the end of the day, I didn’t get anything done that I should have!

    • It’s easy to justify, right? Platform, friends, learning, and all the good that comes with the internet isn’t helping me stack up the words, though.

  2. I have alarms set on my phone for particular times of the day to remind me that i should be writing. As I have a day job, i have a reminder on weekdays at 8pm that interrupts whatever i happen to be doing on my phone to yell “WRITE SOMETHING!!” at me. At weekends i have a few more… i get so distracted by articles and Ted talks and things that fascinate me that i need that jolt back to reality on a regular basis.

  3. Heh heh heh, I really had to giggle at the hiding the router technique. For me, it would probably result in my wasting more time searching for it in an adult version of hide and go seek 🙂

    In a weird sort of way, I think my biggest time waster is my tendencies towards perfection. I tend to find anything – and I mean anything – to avoid confronting the blank page. Even doing dishes and folding laundry sometimes win out. Sad, yes. Can I have one of those cookies now? 🙂

    For me, the most effective combatant against those time wasters – whatever they may be – is remembering that satisfying feeling after completing a writing session, whether it was wildly productive or not.

    Those cookies were really good, can I have just one more? 😉

  4. My biggest downfall is not a time-waster because it needs to be done, but when I do it. My best writing takes place before noon. It’s best for me to wait until the afternoon to respond to emails, answer posts like this, etc.

    The problem is I REALLLLLLY enjoy connecting with others like TSM, etc., so I want to respond ASAP. However, I’m always happiest when I honor my writing first, then do the other stuff later.

  5. Robyn – tell me, have we met? Either at Marcy’s den (;) ) or in the My 500 Words group on Facebook. Where have we met? Well, wherever that was, I am so glad to have stumbled upon your website.

    Love your tone, love your content, love your PERSONALITY! WOOHOO

    Now, I am with ‘davecenker’ above in that if someone hides the router, I will spend the whole day finding it 😉 (Oh – and Peanut Butter cookie, please 😛 )

    As for time-suckers, boy, do I have a list or what. But my most insidious time-sucker is my eating disorder. I can manage the rest – like social media or emails. As much as they distract me, I have NO problem shunning them for hours.

    But my eating disorder is with me at all times. Just this afternoon, I acted shamefully and spent an hour crying into my bed, another hour sleeping – and now I have a migraine.

    I haven’t yet figured out how to take control of my poor body image and emotional issues – but I still take it one day at a time…


  6. Oh – mu other time-sucker is that my lack of clarity about the direction of my writing – I enjoy so many different kinds of writing, but I have to figure out my niche…which hasn’t happened yet!

    • Hi, Kitto! Glad you found us and you know me from the Creative Monsters challenge. 🙂

      Health issues are a problem, but I try to practice patience with myself and take the other feelings out on my journal. Sometimes it helps. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Making Time to Write: Not-So-Obvious Time Wasters | The Sarcastic Muse

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