1. Parenting

The 10 Biggest Time Wasters and How to Avoid Them

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time waster photos
Photo credit: Yellow Dog Productions/Getty Images

Working mothers always seem to be short on one thing: time. We're trying to juggle all our parental responsibilities -- from helping with homework to making dinner -- with our career demands, and we often find ourselves wasting time trying to complete routine tasks. For this reason, we need to replace time wasters with tasks that do the opposite: save time. Try substituting the following time wasters with time savers.

At Home Time Wasters:

Time Waster: Lengthy small talk on the phone with random people.

Time Saver: Replace long phone calls with quick texts to people, such as your neighbor who merely needs to know if the block potluck party is still scheduled for next Saturday.

Time Waster: Looking for important documents amid clutter in your home.

Time Saver: Discard stacks of paper and junk mail piling up on desks and tabletops at least three times per week. File important bills and other documents in a designated place.

Time Waster: Your children's procrastination to complete homework.

Time Saver: Give them an incentive -- such as a sticker reward or promise of a weekend family excursion -- to complete homework in a timely fashion. Only give the reward when homework is complete and correct.

Time Waster: Searching for misplaced items, such as your car keys.

Time Saver: Designate a place for important items, and force yourself to keep them in the same spot.

Time Waster: Nagging your children to pick up after themselves.

Time Saver: Make cleaning fun for your kids by singing songs or making jokes while you work together.

At Work Time Wasters:

Time Waster: Searching for lost paperwork at the office.

Time Saver: Devise an effective filing system where all paperwork is labeled according to category. Force yourself to file all documents when finished with them to ensure they won't disappear when you need them in the future. Consider going paperless by scanning documents you must keep -- and shredding the rest.

Time Waster: Making more work for yourself when trying to finish a project.

Time Saver: Take a direct approach to your work schedule. By being proactive, you will streamline any work task that needs to be accomplished.

Time Waster: Waiting for subordinates to complete a task.

Time Saver: Delegate responsibilities, and give deadlines and detailed instructions to subordinates about how to complete a task in the most efficient manner.

Time Waster: Talkative colleagues when you need to get your work finished.

Time Saver: When colleagues attempt to chat with you during the workday, either cut the conversation short, or politely tell them you need to get back to work in order to make it home to your family on time. Do make time to connect with them later, but limit the socializing to five minutes so it doesn't interrupt your schedule.

Time Waster: Daydreaming at your desk.

Time Saver: If you find yourself distracted from your work duties, force yourself to get back on track. Give yourself daily deadlines (even if your boss doesn't). If you fantasize about getting a project completed before lunch, force yourself to meet that deadline. Reward yourself for finishing a task with five minute breaks to surf the Internet or walk around the office -- but use a timer so the five minutes don't stretch to 30.

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