When you want to be productive but you don't know what to do, or you want to be effective but you keep getting distracted, you end up wasting a lot of time.

The way to put a stop to our biggest time wasters is to identify them.

Here are 10 of the top time wasters we are all guilty of, if you see yourself in any of these, take action and reclaim your precious time.

1. Lack of structure.
Structure supports productivity by creating discipline. Without it, you don't have any way to know what you need to be doing. A system tells you how you should be spending your time, helping you stay on track and accountable.

2. Interruptions.
We all have them--from the drop-in visitor to the unplanned telephone calls to the pinging of our email--and we all know how much they interfere with productivity. Make the best of your time by scheduling specific "open hours" for those who need to contact you, and setting aside a limited amount of time for email and routine tasks.

3. Conflict.
Conflict can take up a lot of energy, draining your enthusiasm and effectiveness. The sooner you handle conflict, the sooner you can get back to focusing on results.

4. Procrastination.
Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. If you're prone to procrastination, create an accountability system with a colleague or friend, or work with a professional coach. An outside partner can hold you accountable for what needs to get done and help you develop better time management habits.

5. Unfinished Projects.
When you jump from one project to the next, when you start something but don't finish it, when you keep switching from one thing to another, you're wasting time. Finish everything you start and assign everything an end date. Don't buy frustration by leaving projects half-done; spend your time completing things and taking them off your to-do list.

6. Socializing.
There is a time and place for everything, but too much socializing with our colleagues or customers can cause us to waste time. And gossip, even if it starts out innocently, is surprisingly destructive. Find the balance between appropriate socializing and time-wasting chatter.

7. Drama.
One of the biggest time wasters is the personal drama we bring to ourselves, our work, our colleagues, our business. Whether you work for a company or for yourself, it's important to respect the boundaries between personal concerns and business. Keep your interest in other people's lives at an appropriate level.

8. Undefined priorities.
When you know your priorities, you have a blueprint to guide your actions. If you feel time slipping away and you aren't sure where to start, spend some time clarifying your priorities.

9. Misplaced effort.
Knowing how to get from point A to point B is critical. To maximize your time, you need to invest your time 80 percent of your time in the activities that get you results.

10. Guilt.
The should's in our lives make us do things we don't want to do. Separate what you truly have to do from what you feel you should do, and see if guilt is driving the need. When you get rid of guilt you can make time for what is important.

Time management principles are important skills that have to be learned. If you want to be successful, productive, and effective--and have more time for fun and family--make a commitment to overcome your own time-wasting habits, even if you are guilty of them, there is always a way to conquer them.

Never miss a post:  Sign up for my weekly newsletter, visit my blog, and follow me on Twitter.