There are a lot of ways to waste the one completely finite, non-renewable resource that is your time. Some things that feel like work are not work at all. Other things that you pretend will improve your work are really just distractions.
Looking for Shortcuts
The time you spend looking for shortcuts is time you could have spent doing the actual task itself. You can easily spend more time working on trying to get out of the work you need to do than the time it takes to actually do that work.
It’s nice to have clean lines, to have processes, and to be efficient. But if it takes more time to manage those systems than it does to do the work, those systems are not really shortcuts.
Cleaning Your Desk
Cleaning your desk is usually a way to procrastinate and avoid something you really should be doing.
The problem with cleaning your desk is that it gives you a sense of accomplishment, but it does nothing to move your closer to your goals. You would be better off getting your most important tasks completed with a messy desk than you would be getting nothing important done with a pristine workspace.
Filing Your Email
There is no reason to create nested folders inside nested folders. In fact, there is no reason to file your email in nested folders at all.
Outlook has a great search engine. So does Gmail. So does Mail.app. In fact, all modern email software offerings have amazing search capabilities. Scrolling through your search results is faster than spending hours building a meticulous folder structure. And it’s faster.
If working smarter means spending countless hours setting up your systems, deciding to try something new, and then setting up new systems to see if you can gain a few minutes of efficiency, then don’t work smarter (I am a case study here, so I know what it is I speak of).
One of the smartest ways you can work is to simply do the most important thing you need to do first each day. Working hard on what’s important is better than working smarter if that means you aren’t doing what needs to be done.
Most of the time you spend on the Internet and Social Media is a serious waste of your time. So is most of the time you spend watching television.
If you value your time, don’t waste it. You have as much as you have and no more.