Time is the most valuable commodity we have. There are lots of ways to waste it. Some are obvious, some, not so much. Sure, there are blatant time wasters like video games or TV, but at least we know those are guilty pleasures. The insidious time wasters are the ones that have the semblance of productivity but really are modes of procrastination.

Here is my personal time-wasting demon, and more insights from my Inc. colleagues.

1. Reviewing (and re-reviewing) the work.

I have a habit of reading over my writing again and again. The more critical the piece, the more I go back and re-read it. It’s not just my columns. When I write important emails, I will go back and read them again over the next few days, even after they were sent. Part of me wants to critique my work. Part of me enjoys my writing or the particular story I told. Either way, at some point it’s just time to move on to the next task.

2. Making perfection the goal.

I sometimes go way past the point of necessity on projects, tasks, or even just emails. There’s a point when what you’ve done is good, then great. But making it even greater won’t benefit your customers or you. So, why waste time further refining or perfecting when perfection isn’t necessary or even desired? It’s easy to think you’re adding additional value, but if you’re not, let it go. Jeff Haden -- Owner's Manual

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3. Chasing rabbits.

My number one time waster is going off on Google wild goose chases when I should be working. It starts innocently enough -- I'll see some interesting reference in the text of a project I'm working on, say Warren Buffett. So I'll Google Warren, then find all these interesting articles about him: who he plays cards with, what he has for lunch, what he said to Bill Gates, and so on. Before I know it, 30 minutes have gone by, my project has not moved forward, and I'm suddenly an expert on Warren Buffett's eating habits. Peter Economy -- The Leadership Guy

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4. Staying on the phone.

I confess -- I don't always use the phone wisely. A client session may end in five or ten minutes of extended chat; a call with a business partner often involves overplanning and much talk of the future. And of course, I can go on forever helping friends with a personal or career challenge. It may be fulfilling at the time, but those minutes really add up! To stay on schedule I often assign a cutoff time as I pick up the phone; I tend to remain disciplined when I do this. Otherwise, I'll have to make up the time somewhere, and working late isn't my favorite thing! Marla Tabaka -- The Successful Soloist

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5. Hanging out on social media.

One way I find myself losing track of time is using social media. Social media networks are meant to keep me connected and better informed to do my job, but they can also prove distracting. I am very active on Twitter and can easily waste hours checking my feeds and interacting with my followers.

Instead of removing myself from social media completely, I limit time spent on social media channels, especially Twitter, to about three times per day for about 30 minutes total. I move engaging or longer conversations to a more productive and manageable medium of communication -- email or phone. Eric Holtzclaw -- Lean Forward

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