The 7 Biggest Time Sucks

man checking watch
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Feel like you never have enough time to exercise, sleep or mate with your mate? We bet a few of these surprising daily drainers are to blame.
  1. Time Suck: The Boob Tube

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    The average person spends about half of their free time (about 2.8 hours a day to be exact) watching TV. Listen, we know there's some quality programming out there these days, but almost three hours every night is a waste of time -- even if the Kerry Washington show is on.

    The Fix: Watch only what you love and stop settling for whatever is on. Do you really need to see Kim, Khloe and Kourtney vajazzling their you-know-whats? No, you don't. Set your DVR/VCR/TiVo to tape just your fave shows and vow to watch only those -- no mindless channel surfing (or commercials -- yay!).

  2. Time Suck: Your Cellphone

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    In theory your BlackBerry/iPhone/smartphone should save you time. But ironically, those time-saving devices can end up being major time killers. Checking your email while you're grocery shopping (or doing the laundry, or cooking dinner, or any other task that requires even the slightest bit of concentration) will actually slow you down -- at both tasks. While you're reading and responding to the flurry of emails rehashing last weekend's bachelor party debauchery, you're not focusing on the grocery list. A quick 10-minute grocery run turns into a 20-minute excursion, followed by a 9-minute fight with your significant other for forgetting half the stuff on the list (including the freakin' ketchup!), followed by a second 20-minute trip to retrieve said items...and suddenly, there goes an hour of your time. Funny how that happens, huh?

    The Fix: Save the checking and sending of emails for when you're on the train to your in-laws' house (NOT while driving!) or while you're waiting in the checkout line.

  3. Time Suck: Looking for Things

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    The five minutes you spent searching for the warranty for the mixer you just broke, the seven minutes you wasted emptying your purse (or pockets) in search of quarters for the vending machine, the 10 minutes it took you to find your cell phone stuck in between the couch cushions -- it all adds up in a big way.

    The Fix: Give everything a home -- and use it. Designate a place for your keys and cell phone, and put both of them there every time you walk in the door. Have a box where you keep any receipts you want to save, and toss the rest instead of crumpling them in your wallet. Get tons more time-saving organizing tips here.

  4. Time Suck: Errands

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    All those little excursions and detours (picking up a prescription, dropping off your dry cleaning, running out for dog food) can really eat away at free time over your lunch breaks and weekends. Hell, waiting in line to send a package can take the entire lunch break if you don't get there early enough!

    The Fix: In case you didn't already know, you can do pretty much all your errands online -- sans the lines, the 15 minutes there and back, and the laps around the block looking for parking spots. UPS, FedEx and even your local post office all allow you to fill out, print and pay for postage on their websites, so all you need to do is drop off the package (and with drop boxes conveniently cropping up at gas stations and grocery stores, you don't even need to make a trip out of your way). That Rx? Quite a few insurance companies offer mail-order prescription programs, many of which allow you to sign up for automatic refills, saving you even more time. Dog food, deodorant, groceries? They can all be ordered online and delivered to your doorstep from websites like FreshDirect.com, Peapod.com, Soap.com and Walmart.com. Bonus: A lot of those sites even allow you to keep your previous shopping lists on file, so you can save a few minutes the next time you order. And even many dry cleaners have started offering pickup and delivery services. As for the errands you have to do the old-school way, try to save them for off-peak times (read: not during your and everyone else in the world's lunch break) and wait until you have a few items to drop off to avoid having to make multiple trips.

  5. Time Suck: Chores

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    You may not realize it, but on an average day, most people spend time doing some form of housework, whether it's laundry, vacuuming, cooking, mowing the lawn or paying the bills, and -- get this! -- they spend over two hours doing it! We don't know about you, but we're thinking that's way too much for anyone (even Mr. Clean!) to spend sweeping up dust bunnies and putting away dishes.

    The Fix: If you absolutely need your house to be spotless at all times, you could suck it up and hire a cleaning lady. Yes, it's another expense, but maybe to you $50 a week is worth 14 hours of your time. But if you don't have the cash to spare (or would rather spend it on something else), then stop being such a neat freak! Unless you're entertaining your in-laws or hosting a dinner party, you don't need to do a scrub down of the entire house every week (or day). In fact, 30 minutes once or twice a week is all you need for a clean enough house (click here for speed-cleaning tricks). If it's not the cleaning but the constant picking up and putting stuff away that's eating away at your downtime, rethink your storage. Save under-the-bed bins and hard-to-reach shelves for stuff you don't need access to on a regular basis. If you're routinely carrying books and other items back upstairs every day, place a catchall on your stairs so you can save yourself the trips without creating more clutter.

  6. Time Suck: Stupid Fights

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    Those little spats over whose turn it is to clean up the puppy's latest puddle or who forgot to put the toilet seat down for the 100th time? They're not just annoying -- they're a waste of time. A small little tiff about the dishes can magically transform into an all-out brawl over how you do everything and your partner takes you for granted -- which, depending on how much ammo you've got stored up, could last anywhere from 10 minutes to 10 days.

    The Fix: To avoid clashes over the “stupid stuff" that nonetheless, still gets to you both, sit down together and come up with practical solutions for your most common arguments. Chores sending you two to battle on a regular basis? Make a list of all the household tasks and how often each should be done, and then divvy 'em up. If you're always arguing about how much you spend on groceries, devise a budget together (get tips for creating a budget together ). For all your other most common and annoying fights, find practical solutions (that you'll both love -- we promise!) right here.

  7. Time Suck: Waiting on Hold

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    No one should waste any part of their day listening to elevator music. It sucks.

    The Fix: Hang up the phone! Most companies have websites where you can get most of your questions answered, submit a query for the ones you can't or even IM with a live customer service rep who can answer your questions right away. For the rest, make an appointment with your doctor, clients or busy friend to talk, so you don't wait for 10 minutes only to find out they're too busy to chat. And for those times where there's no getting around the wait, at least make the most of your hold time with these ideas.