Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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Overcoming Overwhelm

Mastering Productivity: Strategies to Stop Wasting Time During the Day

Time is a finite resource, and how we manage it directly impacts our productivity and overall well-being. In a world filled with distractions and competing demands, stopping the cycle of wasting time requires intentional effort and effective strategies.
This means working when you need to work, enjoying time away from work, and prioritizing your actions so that you accomplish what you want to accomplish and have time to have the life you want as well.

1. Set Clear Goals and Prioritize Tasks
Begin your day by defining clear goals and prioritizing tasks.

Break down larger objectives into smaller, more manageable steps. This not only provides a roadmap for the day but also helps you stay focused on what truly matters.

Prioritizing tasks ensures that important activities are addressed first, preventing time from being squandered on less impactful endeavors.

Review your daily goals at the start of every day and review the list throughout the day.

2. Time Blocking
If you want to get things accomplished, put that time on the calendar. This is a form of time blocking.

You never miss a meeting, so do not miss time with yourself to finish a project.

Implementing time blocking involves assigning specific blocks of time to dedicated tasks or activities.

Create a schedule that allocates focused time for work, breaks, and personal commitments. This method helps prevent multitasking and ensures that you devote your full attention to the task at hand, leading to increased efficiency.

3. Limit Distractions
Identify and minimize sources of distraction in your environment.
Turn off unnecessary notifications on your phone and computer, close irrelevant browser tabs, and communicate your need for uninterrupted time to colleagues.
Creating a distraction-free zone allows you to concentrate on your work and complete tasks more efficiently.

4. Utilize the Pomodoro Technique
This is a form of time blocking. The Pomodoro Technique involves working in short, focused intervals (typically 25 minutes) followed by a short break. After completing four cycles, take a longer break. This structured approach helps maintain concentration and prevents burnout, making it an effective strategy to stop wasting time and enhance overall productivity.

5. Delegate and Outsource
Recognize that you cannot do everything on your own.

Delegate tasks that others can manage, freeing up your time for more strategic or high-priority activities.

Outsourcing certain responsibilities, whether personal or professional, can be a valuable investment in reclaiming time and reducing your workload.

If you do not have anyone to delegate to, hire a virtual assistant or a virtual assistant service to help.

6. If It Is Not a Heck Yes, Then It Is a Heck No
The ability to say no is a powerful tool for time management.

Assess your commitments and prioritize those that align with your goals and values.

Politely decline requests or invitations that do not contribute to your overarching objectives. This ensures that your time is allocated to activities that truly matter.

If it does not bring you joy or further your objectives, you may need to say no.

7. Embrace Technology Wisely
While technology can be a significant time-saver, it can also become a source of distraction.

Use productivity tools and apps judiciously to streamline tasks and enhance efficiency. Set specific times for checking emails and messages, avoiding constant interruptions that can derail your focus.

Update your technology often. Do not use an antiquated system that no longer performs for you.

8. Review and Reflect:
Take one minute at the end of each day or week to reflect on your accomplishments and challenges.

Assess how effectively you managed your time and identify areas for improvement. Regular reviews help refine your approach and continuously optimize your time management strategies.

“Time is a finite number of unknown minutes. Use them wisely.”
– Mary Kelly

Stopping the cycle of wasting time requires an initiative-taking and intentional approach to managing your daily activities. By setting clear goals, prioritizing tasks, limiting distractions, and embracing effective time management techniques, individuals can reclaim valuable hours, boost productivity, and achieve a more fulfilling and balanced lifestyle. The key lies in cultivating habits that align with your objectives, allowing you to make the most of the time at your disposal.


  1. Alicia

    Great tips! I oftentimes find that I am too accesible due to advances in technology. Constant emails, Teams messages, texts and calls can easily derail my day. How do you balance being responsive with setting boundaries around response time expectations?

    • Mary Kelly

      I set expectations upfront by mentioning typical response times. I also use the time blocking technique for responding to messages so that I can maintain my focus without feeling overwhelmed. Hope these tips help, Alicia.


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