10 secret time wasters revealed
Trying to be more efficient and free up more time for you? These supposed time savers are anything butBy Yuki Hayashi
Accidentally dialing a friend while trying to access a shopping list on my iPhone, it occurred to me that this ostensible time saver was actually a time vampire. Numerous false starts and accidental non-saves, as well as repeated clicks off-list while shopping, made it clear my old-fashioned paper list is actually more efficient for me.
As with so many things in life, time-saving tools are anything but one-mode-fits-all. Here are some time savers we’ve found can be anything but.
1. Packing lunch from home
“By the time I wash all that Tupperware, spin the lettuce, portion out the protein, and so on, I’ve spent 30 minutes of my day,” says Jade Osborne, a Toronto mom of one who prefers to buy her lunch during the workweek.
2. Eating at a restaurant
Conversely, others may find waiting in line, waiting to be served, then waiting for food at a popular restaurant to be more time consuming than noshing on non-perishables they’ve stashed in their desk or leftovers they’ve stored in the office fridge.
3. Digital shopping lists
They work for some. For others—present writing company included—inputting items is too time-consuming and the handheld device itself is too unwieldy to constantly have in your hands.
I have two hands. With them I have to: a) pick up products and read their nutritional values; b) load the cart; c) push it; d) retrieve and return junk food my child is trying to secretly ferret away in the cart. Upshot: My paper list is more efficient in real-world use.
4. Digital vacation-packing apps
You could be selecting, tapping, untapping mistakes and retapping items to pack for your trip. Or you could just grab your suitcase and start filling it, then use a Post-It to remind you of what you need to add last minute.
Big-picture, cars save time. But if you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic or circling around the block repeatedly in search of parking, city walking and biking are often faster. Dedicated traffic lanes, underground tunnels and raised light-railway lines all give public transit an edge in major cities.
6. Certain dishwashers
“The level of rinsing I have to do before turning on the machine is greater than the hand-washing I did for all those years before I had a dishwasher. I have to wash everything twice,” says Osborne. Performance varies from washer to washer (and between detergents), so read the reviews before you buy. Otherwise, this time-saver may turn into a big time-and-energy suck.
7. Salad mixes that need washing
Shockingly, some bagged or boxed salad mixes carry the warning that they need to be rinsed prior to consumption. Be sure to read the packaging before you buy, or your time-saving produce may eat up more prep-time than you’d anticipated.
Sometimes getting the job done right the first time before moving down your list is just more efficient, especially when it comes to issues of accuracy or safety. That’s why doing your online banking while helping your kid with homework, or making a salad while prepping raw meat for a casserole, will never go down in history as the best examples of high-level time management.
“Self-checkout should save time, but it doesn't. It usually takes longer than a cashier. Often something doesn't scan properly, or the computer claims I didn't place something in the bag when I did, then the supervisor has to clear that item. Self-checkout is a novel experience for my daughter, but a waste of time for adults,” says Hamilton, Ont. dad Ernie Ourique.
10. Doing it all yourself
Sure, it can be faster to sort laundry/properly load and unload the dishwasher/manage the weekly grocery shopping list yourself rather than train your child or partner in the fundamentals of these tasks. But once they get the hang of these chores—and you get the hang of delegating—it opens up a more amenable division of family labour...and free time!
What supposed time savers have you given up? Tell us in the comments.
Don't miss out! Sign up for our free weekly newsletters and get nutritious recipes, healthy weight-loss tips, easy ways to stay in shape and all the health news you need, delivered straight to your inbox.
Web exclusive: September 2010