Time & Productivity

Your Never-to-Do List: How You’re Wasting Time Every Single Day

Don’t blame your kids, your job, or Instagram for stealing all of your precious hours. These bad habits are killing your productivity and stressing you out. How to stop wasting time.

A to do list sits unfulfilled as its owner tries to stop wasting time and get things done.
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To Do, or Not to Do?

Chances are, your to-do list is several pages long — and growing! But what about your “never-to-do” list — a list of time- and energy-wasters you should try to avoid as much as possible? When bad ADHD habits get in the way of your productivity, it might be a good time to reevaluate what you’re doing — stop wasting time and stay away from these 9 productivity-sucking habits.

A man with ADHD is wasting time goofing off in his office.
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Avoid Important (But Painful) Tasks

Adults with ADHD are no strangers to procrastination. We’ve all put off important assignments right up until the last minute — a strategy that often ends with a stress-fueled burst of last-minute energy, which is not the healthiest way to operate. The first step of any project is usually the hardest, but once you start, you often find it’s not as hard as you were imagining. For strategies on managing and overcoming procrastination, read this.

A businessman with ADHD wastes time in his office, resting his forhead on his hand.
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Accept Nothing Less Than Perfection

People with ADHD strike a unique balance — we’re often both procrastinators and perfectionists. Fear of making a mistake leads to procrastination, and procrastination leads nowhere good. In order to keep your perfectionism from holding you back, get in the habit of doing drafts of your work. The first draft can be just the core idea, while the second and third can iron out the wrinkles.

A woman with ADHD wastes too much time editing the same page of a manuscript over and over until it is perfect.
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Miss the Forest for the Trees

Paying attention to detail is a great trait to have, but don’t let yourself get so obsessed with details that it keeps you from finishing projects on time. If you’re proofreading a document, for example, limit yourself to a set number of read-throughs before you send it on — so you don’t spend all day staring at the same piece of paper.

A woman with ADHD writes a list of goals on her to-do list.
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Ignore Your Long-Term Goals

Do you know what you want to accomplish today? What about this month? This year? It may seem silly to think about something that seems far away, but taking some time to figure out where you hope to be in the future can help you in your day-to-day. Once you work out your goals and priorities — even for the very long-term — it’s easier to push away unimportant tasks and structure your work.

A businesswoman uses a tablet to stop wasting time and get more done.
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Try to Do Everything

Not all tasks are created equal! Trying to do every little thing you “should” do is a recipe for stress and disappointment — and may cause you to miss crucial deadlines because you got caught up in non-crucial tasks. Look at your to-do list and slash the non-essential tasks. You’ll have more energy to devote to the things you really need to do, and you’ll end each day feeling like you accomplished what was really important.

An inbox with six new messages can lead to wasting time for adults with ADHD
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Respond to All Emails (or Texts, or Calls)

It may be tempting to reply to every single email you get — even if it’s just to say thanks — but if you stay stuck in your inbox all day, you won’t have time to get any actual work done. Instead, if you only reply to higher priority emails, you’ll save time, energy, and a whole lot of needless typing.

A group of words for procrastinating, wasting time, and putting things off — all surrounding the word now
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Try to Resolve All Problems Immediately

When you get a new task, it can be tempting to drop what you’re doing and work on it right away. But this interruption can throw you out of your groove, making you unable to complete any task at all. Instead of trying to jump on new tasks right away, mark them down in a “do-later” list. Once you finish what you’re working on, take stock of your do-later list and figure out what needs to come next.

A woman with ADHD taking a break to stretch in her office.
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Never Take Breaks

Everyone needs a break once in awhile — especially adults with ADHD, who can sometimes feel overwhelmed by their racing brains or other ADHD symptoms. Make sure you set aside some time every day — whether it’s ten minutes in the middle of your workday, or an hour when you get home — to unwind and do something relaxing that you enjoy. Your work — and life — will be better for it.

A senior man with ADHD lays in the grass and listens to music.
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Try to Please Everyone

You can’t control what others think or how they act — the only person you have any control over is yourself. Put your energy into being the best you can be and spending your time with people who love and respect you — and forget about making everyone else happy.

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