Mar 25, 2016 · 4 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

Do you know where your time goes?

Do you get work done in the time you allot to yourself to get it done?

Do you feel distracted and unfocused?

You could be losing time to a time suck., that bastion of modern-day vocabulary, describes a time suck as “something that’s engrossing and addictive, but that keeps you from doing things that are actually important, like earning a living, or eating meals, or caring for your children.”

You might not be so far gone that you’re having a hard time caring for your children or earning a living, but you could be losing valuable time to things that don’t really matter.

Here are three time sucks to recognize and limit whenever possible, so you can make the most out of your life.


I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever watch TV. Sometimes it’s relaxing to catch a show after work with your family or partner. But that’s it. Just one show. Three hours of TV in a row will, as moms the world over have said, just rot your brain. It’s also going to take away time from you doing what you love. I’m pretty sure watching TV isn’t your contribution to the world. I’m pretty sure you have other talents that the world needs to benefit from. Why not use a few of those hours that you would have spent watching TV to do the thing that feeds your soul and will make the world a more beautiful place?

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and all the other social media sites do have value. They help you stay in touch with old friends and meet new ones. You can follow people whose ideas you find intriguing; you can learn more about the world; you can engage with customers for your business. But they can also be a HUGE time suck: You can spend a lot of time looking at pictures of what people had for dinner, taking quizzes about the kind of unicorn you might be and trying to decipher vague, pseudo-deep statements posted by angsty, wannabe poets.

Yup, those are hours you’ll never get back. Avoid giving them away to the time suck black hole by staying off social media for most of the day. This is something I struggle with, since reaching for my phone has become almost a reflex, not something I do intentionally. But I’m trying to put my phone away, only check social media a couple times a day and limit my time on it. (Of course, when I do put my phone away, I come back to a bunch of accusatory texts wondering where I’ve been and why I haven’t responded IMMEDIATELY to whoever wanted something from me. That’s a post for another time.) The point is, the quizzes and pictures of food and vague statements will still be there, so you won’t miss out on anything, but you will gain time to pursue the thing you love to do.

Unnecessary shopping

Whether to assuage boredom or loneliness, or just out of habit, shopping when you don’t need something is a time, money, and resource suck. If you do it to hang out with friends, why not suggest an experience, like a picnic or a bike ride, instead? You can spend quality time together, enjoy the great outdoors, and save some money.

If you do it out of boredom, instead ask yourself if you could be using that time to pursue your passion or make the world a more beautiful place. You don’t have to work on your passion project in every spare moment, but shopping when you don’t need to is a poor replacement activity. The point is to be intentional about your actions, rather than just going shopping because it’s easy and a habit.

Avoiding unnecessary shopping will also save you money and help save the planet. Buying cheap crap for no good reason (or even expensive crap) is a drag on the earth’s limited resources used to grow or mine the materials, produce the object and ship it to the store. Much of what we purchase just ends up in the landfill anyway, and that’s an unsustainable pathway for a few hours of diversion.

There will never be more hours in a day, but you can devote more to what you were meant to do by avoiding a few activities that bring little return on investment.

What are your biggest time sucks and how do you avoid them?


Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.