These Bad Habits Are Totally Wasting Your Time

"How tragic it is to find that an entire lifetime is wasted in pursuit of distractions while purpose is neglected."—Sunday Adelaja


Last year, I checked out a feature that Complex did on actor and artist Mack Wilds. It all centered around effective time management and how Mack is able to accomplish so much in the same 24-hour time frame that we all have. The entire article was good. Two things stood out the most: how he has been exchanging social media use for reading and how he defines time:

"The best thing about time that a lot of people don't realize... and I'm giving you guys a little secret... The best thing about time is that it's man-made. We all get caught up in, 'Oh, wait, I got to get this done now. I have to hurry up. I got to get this done, because I am this old and I am going to die, this and whatever.' Time is man-made, you do what you have to do, in whatever time that you have to do it, and you'll get it done."

His view of time reminded me of something that a man told me on my first trip to South Africa several years ago. "You Americans are slaves to your clock. You can be in the middle of a great conversation or you can be having an awesome time, look at your watch and suddenly your attitude totally changes. Now you're all agitated and in a rush. You should control time and not let it control you." Amen.

Today, we will address things that you are doing that are a waste of your sweet and precious time---things that are actually causing you to lose control of your minutes, hours, and ultimately, your days. You will learn how to make the most of your life by improving the quality of it.

Let it sink in that it's never really about not having enough time. It's all about prioritizing, starting with getting serious about altering the habits that are wasting your time.

TIME WASTER #1: Not Making Daily To-Do Lists (and Following Them)


If you're someone who doesn't create to-do lists because, in your mind, that's what "obsessive types" do, humor me while I share a few reasons why it could make your life so much easier. To-do lists are proven to help us stay focused, keep us organized, prioritize our tasks and make the most of our time. I personally think that to-do lists should be categorized into things that need to be done immediately and things that need to be done before the week ends. If you do the hardest (or the things you like the least) first, checking everything else off will be a breeze. Not only that, but knowing that you completed your list come Friday will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. To-do lists are one of the best ways to ensure that you are making the absolute most of your time. No question.

TIME WASTER #2: Not Using Traffic Apps

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Guess how much time we spend in traffic? According to one report, a whopping 54 hours a year. Sure, you could catch up on some audio books or podcasts during that time, but if you want to reclaim some of your traffic hours, do that by downloading some traffic apps. Waze is a popular app that offers info on traffic, construction and even where police are in your area. Traffic Spotter gives up-to-date traffic reports. INRIX Traffic Maps & GPS hips you to road conditions, drive times and even parking options. These maps work brilliantly for iOS systems. HERE WeGo makes it easier for you to locate the faster and shorter routes. These are just some of the options that can at least save you 15 to 20 minutes, one-way, every time you get in your car.

TIME WASTER #3: Constantly Emailing People at Work


Did you know that 23 percent of most people's work day is used to either create or reply to emails?

Since it is a common form of communication, it's pretty unrealistic for me to say to ignore emailing completely. But, if you do want to save a little time, I've got a few hacks for you. First, set aside three times per day when you check emails (like when you first get into work, right before your lunch break, and a few moments before heading home). If you put labels on your emails, that can help you to put everything into categories so that you can know what requires a time-sensitive response and what can wait until later. If you find yourself sending the same response over and over again, create a "canned response" so that you can save the template and change the name (and a few minor details) instead of typing out the same email over and over again.

Make sure your email signature includes all of your relevant contact information (you'd be amazed how much time is wasted by not doing this). If you tend to do a lot of emailing via your smartphone, consider downloading an app like The Bat for encryption and security purposes, Front if you're trying to communicate with a team all at once or Postbox if you want to use personalized templates. Also, turn off all of your social media notifications as you're working. Whatever emails you get from people on Instagram or Twitter can wait until you are actually off of the clock.

TIME WASTER #4: Eating Fast Food During Your Lunch Break

Not only is bringing your own lunch to work healthier and cheaper, it can also save you quite a bit of time. Think about it. If your lunch break is an hour, just leaving your office and getting into your car is probably going to take about 15 minutes. Then, depending on the time that you go, the traffic, and the crowds, you'll barely have time to eat.

Why not enjoy most of your lunch hour by having your meal in tow and then eating in the break room, outside, or even in your car? That way, you don't have to scarf down your food. You can have at least 30 minutes to eat your meal in peace.

TIME WASTER #5: Literally Living Online


A couple of years ago, a survey revealed that folks spend at least five hours a week on their cell phones, doing things that are not work-related. That ultimately costs businesses $15 billion dollars a year. I already know some of y'all are like, "And?" If you consider the revelations shared in "8 Solid Reasons To Put. Your Phone. Down," you might see why living online (and constantly straining your eyes via your smartphone's screen) can do a real number on not only your productivity but your health overall.

A few days ago, I caught up with a friend who said that, over Thanksgiving, she had a "no cell phone" rule in her home. While the teens were irritated at first, she said, by the end of the day, they told her how much fun that they had. The Internet is not the devil, but it's not the end all be all of life, either. If you process how many hours you spend browsing social sites, reading gossip blogs, and surfing the Web, you might be floored by all the grocery shopping, cleaning up, bonding with friends, pampering and planning for your future you could've been doing instead.

David Foster Wallace, a writer and professor, once said, "It is named the 'Web' for good reason." Think about that every time you procrastinate by using your phone, or read articles like "Self-Care For Idris Elba Means Cutting Back On Social Media" and brush it off. Every moment is one that you'll never get back. Constantly wasting yours by being "plugged in" all the time is a shame; especially since all that stuff will be waiting for you once you actually live your life and come back to it.

TIME WASTER #6: Remaining in Counterproductive Relationships


I write about relationships…a lot. And if there's one word that I think is my favorite in reference to red flag relationships, it would have to be "counterproductive". Our time, energy, and resources—hell, our feelings---are far too precious and valuable to be out here chasing down or even tolerating counterproductive relationships, whether they are professional or personal ones. I would think that just about all of us can agree with that fact, yet I'm also willing to bet a pretty good amount of money that at least 80 percent of us are currently involved in one.

Why are we wasting our assets this way? I think a big part of the reason is because we don't really take the time to let the definition of counterproductive sink in. When something or someone is counterproductive in our lives, it means that it is (or they are) "thwarting the achievement of an intended goal". You know what this means, right? In order for you to remove counterproductive relationships from your space, you need to figure out what the goal for your relationships are. If the goal is to become a better individual, you need to remove those from your life who are counterproductive in helping you to achieve that mission.

I can't tell you how many times that I've allowed someone to remain in my life well past their shelf life, all because I tolerated how much time we've known each other or allowed what they needed to supersede what I knew was best for me. Everything in your life should have a clear purpose. If you're involved with someone, on any level, and you can't attach a purpose to them—yes, my friend, on some level, they are wasting your time.

TIME WASTER #7: Always Needing to Have the Last Word


Recently, I watched the cutest movie called Christmas Belles about two cousins who fall for the new pastor at their church. There's a scene where the cousins try and "check each other" by attempting to have the last word. These two chicks said "Me too" back and forth nine times (yes, I counted) in response to the pastor asking if they were going to come to Bible study. It was so awkward that it was both humorous and ridiculous. It also made me think that I must look just like them when I'm in a heated discussion with someone and I want to get the last word. But for what? At the end of the day, it's a control tactic that is a waste of precious time and energy. These days, I'm more interested in my words being impactful whether I'm the last one to say something or not. And you know what? Life is a lot more peaceful this way.

TIME WASTER #8: Being Indecisive


Not too long ago, I wrote an article for xoNecole entitled "Here's How To Stop Worrying So Freakin' Much". Two things worrying does that results in wasting all kinds of time are overthinking and indecisiveness. When you don't make decisions, you end up being stagnate. Stagnation is a form of being stuck and who ever benefits from that? So why do so many of us find ourselves in this kind of trap?

I think it's because sometimes we'd rather allow things to happen to us via our stagnation rather than taking the risk of stepping out, making some real (and sometimes even hard) choices that we'll actually have to take some accountability for. It's like we'd rather take the cowardly approach to our own lives. But if you're so intimidated by what could be that you never develop the courage to take risks, try new things or step out on faith, how can you learn more about yourself and what you want? How can you ever really grow?

The Latin writer Publilius Syrus once said, "Through indecision opportunity is often lost." Pastor John Ortberg once said, "Greatness is never achieved through indecision." Bernhard Langer, a German professional golfer, once said, "Be decisive. A wrong decision is generally less disastrous than indecision." And get this—a motivational speaker and author Brian Tracy once said, "Indecision is a major time waster; 80% of decisions should be made the first time they come up." Worrying and overthinking don't help you to make wise choices. Doing so only encourages you to make decisions more complicated than they need to be.

Your time is too valuable to be hanging around in the valley of indecision.

If you struggle with making choices, check out "Need To Make A Big Decision Quickly? Do This". Then move. The sooner you make a decision, the sooner you can make progress as well. On the flip side, if you stay stuck in indecision, all you'll be doing is wasting time you can never get back.

TIME WASTER #9: Complaining


Complaining is a colossal waste of time. Spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle has a quote that explains a big part of the reason why: "When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness." Another quote that I like in reference to complaining is by a wise person who once said, "Stay away from 'still' people. Still broke, still complaining, still hating, and still nowhere." When you put these two quotes together, it's a reminder that constantly verbalizing how dissatisfied you are about something—or someone—perpetuates a victim mentality. In other words, it keeps you focused on the problem rather than inspired to find a solution (which is why living on social media can be quite the trap if you're not careful).

Does this mean that you shouldn't feel free to vent about things that frustrate or even simply annoy you? Of course, you should. Just try to find a productive way to do it. Allow yourself a certain amount of time for venting, then be intentional about putting a plan into place. Or, if you don't know how to go about putting a plan together, do what another one of my favorite quotes on complaining instructs: Complain to someone who can help you."

TIME WASTER #10: Doubting Yourself

Let's end this with a quote by another author, Jaachynma N.E. Agu: "Don't set your goals by what other people deem important." Many people do not go after the things that they want in life all because they are consumed by what other people think. I personally think it's an epidemic. Part of what holds folks back is that they esteem others more than themselves. In other words, they doubt themselves and this too is a big waste of time.

How do you know if you are a self-doubter? Do you underestimate your gifts and talents? Do you second-guess your dreams and goals? Do you need to run everything by a billion people before making a decision? Do you compare yourself to others a lot? Do you think that an idea is dumb if there no blueprint in place for you to follow? Do you feel like your worth is only based on how others treat you?

There are so many things I would not have accomplished had I listened to certain family members and friends. Thankfully, I didn't waste my time doubting myself, and I didn't determine that something was important—or not—based on the opinion of others. Your time is your time. Don't waste it by obsessing about what others think is best. Get out here and make your own life happen. It's the best way to show how much you value the time you have---time that is ticking away as we speak. So, what are you gonna do with it, sis?

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Article originally published on December 30, 2019.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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