8 Wastes of Time That Can Actually Make You Smart

Updated: January 16, 2012

Caleb Wojcik

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We've all had it happen to us. A whole day flew by and it felt like a total waste. 

Everything took twice as long as it was supposed to, countless hours were spent surfing the web, and a marathon of your favorite show just couldn't be missed. It happens to the best of us.

But what if you could reengineer the things you waste time on, so that the time wasters actually make you smarter, better, and more awesome?

Some may say that everyone needs their downtime to do nothing, recover, and start anew. I agree to a certain extent, but why not repurpose your "downtime" so that it is also "uptime"?

Here are eight of the biggest time wasters in our society and how you can turn them into ultra-productive, brain-growing habits.


Whether you are stuck in a super long bathroom line at halftime of the big game or you get to your doctor's appointment way too early, you can spend that time learning or absorbing new information. You don't want to try to digest War & Peace on your iPhone though.

Pick up an e-book that is easy to read in short sittings. Some great examples are:

Just put these on your smart phone's e-reader app like Amazon's Kindle and read a quick chapter while you wait.

Twitter, Facebook, and Google +

Scroll, scroll, scroll, click the link, read something, go back to your feed, scroll, scroll, scroll. How long do you spend on social media a day just reading what other people share? Why not spend 90% of that time doing the creating and sharing instead?

Don't just read what other people say. You could be spending time building a personal brand online and using that to interact with people and brands you like.

You should:

Instead of allowing your day to be wasted bouncing from website to website, deliberately try to be someone that other people want to listen to on your social media networks. 


One of my favorite pastimes when it is time to prolong going to bed is to scroll through every single category available on the Netflix instant queue. I don't want to miss putting that one awesome movie I haven't seen in forever in my queue.

But seriously, what Netflix should be used for more is education. There are a ton of awesome documentaries on Netflix's instant queue that are both entertaining and informative. Here are three of my favorites:

Educate while you vegetate.


If you don't know what Pinterest is, I recommend you turn and run in the other direction. Pinterest is an online pinboard for content people find on the web. Users can "pin" something they want to put on one of their "boards" for inspiration. Pinterest can be extremely addicting though.

If you're not careful you could waste hours on the site looking at everything people have pinned. Pinterest itself is a pretty awesome tool when used for a purpose though. 

For an example, check out how Mars Dorian uses Pinterest to track epic visual artists that have impacted him over the years. When he needs some inspiration, he just needs to look there. Use tools on the web for a purpose.


Not only do many people spend the majority of their weekdays at a job, they also have to drive to and from their job.

How many people spend this time:

  • Listening to pointless talk or sports radio
  • Speeding and looking around nervously for police cars
  • Singing along to the same song for the 100th time
Instead of wasting the time spent on a commute, use it productively. Get a free audiobook from audible.com, try to learn a language, or listen to the "stuff you missed in history class" podcast.

Your commute doesn't have to be boring. Use it to learn.


A blogger that says that blogging can be a waste of time? Absolutely. 

If you blog and you have no direction or plan for what you are doing with it, you're wasting valuable time.

Instead of writing the same things everyday, try reading brand new sites for inspiration. Find awesome people to follow and learn how they became successful.

And then, instead of blending in to the blogging noise, start a blog that matters. It may be just the thing you need to learn more, do more, and be more.

What do you waste time in your life doing that you could repurpose and make it more productive?

(Tomorrow over at Think Traffic, Corbett and I are launching How to Start a Blog That Matters. A 90-day action plan for starting a blog that could change your life. Head over here to be one of the first to find out more.)


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