I calls these insidious ways to waste time because you can convince yourself that you are actually doing something productive. You’re not, though. Really, you could be watching this on YouTube and be accomplishing just as much.
1. Reading those posts from “important” blogs in your RSS feed. I understand. I do it all the time, and it’s a great way to start my morning. It feels like I’m really assimilating some useful thoughts and information. But if you’re just clicking on article titles that sound interesting, and aren’t reading any sort of targeted information or doing research for your own writing then – sorry to tell you – you’re just killing time.
2. Making Lists. Stop. Ok, really, Just stop. I know it feels good to cross stuff off of a list, but here’s a thought: pick out what is most important to do. What one thing, if you finished it today, or worked on it for 3-4 hours, would give you the most bang for your buck? Do that. And, no, it’s not hard to figure out. It’s what keeps nagging at you. Yeah, that thing. Get it done. Trust me, you’ll feel better for having done it.
3. Twitter. See item #1 above. Useful in small doses or for targeted uses. A great, wonderful service. Yes, you can connect with people. Yes, you can find some great information. Yes, you can get addicted. ‘Nuff said.
4. Keeping up on the news. Alright, I will admit that being up to date with current events is great for bar chat, for cocktail parties, or for sales-type folks who need fresh material for small talk all the time. When I did sales I considered Salon.com, CNN.com, and Google News to be as important for daily prep as my product marketing material. But for everyone else, 99.99% of what you read on the news is not something you can do a thing about. It is filler knowledge, and it makes you feel smart when you can talk about it. But if you can’t use it to make a positive impact on your life or the lives of those around you, then it’s not useful. Stop kidding yourself that it is.
5. Writing yet another post about “top 10” or “5 ways” or posting anything with a numbered list. There are too many of these already. It’s fun, but just. don’t. do it. T’hat means you, Aaron.