Small Things Waste A Lot of Time

It’s a new year, and the gyms are filled with people again. They’re so crowded that it’s hard to get the equipment I want when I’m in there.

But like clockwork, I know they’ll thin out by February or March as people lose motivation and give up. But not me. I’ll be there all year. Or at least most of it; I fall off too sometimes.

And I feel good, glad to be at this commercial gym, despite the crowd, because I’m wasting less time. I’ll explain why.

What I want to talk about today is those pockets of small things in your daily life that add up and waste time.

I did CrossFit for 5 years, and usually only took 2 or 3 days off a week. And while I loved a lot about CrossFit, one thing I disliked was the 15 minutes before you could start each workout where the coach would have to explain and walk through every movement because there were always new people in class or people who hadn’t been there a while.

Then, there was a whole ramp-up period to pull out the weights you wanted and roll them to your rack and them move them onto your barbell. There’s more to it sometimes, such as the time spent finding a partner to share a rack with and then moving the weights on and off to accommodate differing strength levels. Plus, a lot of the classmates, even if they’re experienced don’t realize how far they are from failure, so they’ll count a warm up set with less weight as a set. Then, they’ll stop at a weight that isn’t showing much strain and/or stop at a rep count that’s far from ideal. The 3 or 4 sets they’re supposed to get is really like 2 sets. You get the point.

You don’t have to waste a lot of time tolerating this stuff when in a commercial gym. You can just get right to the weight you want, especially with machines. And I know what I’m supposed to do and how hard I can push, so I am not skimping out. While I miss the CrossFit community a lot, I can’t say I am not enjoying the efficiency of the commercial gyms I go to now.

Think of all the other ways we’re wasting time without realizing it. Have you ever cracked or broke your phone?

Over the years, I’ve noticed that literally everyone I meet has at least once…except me.

What I did to prevent this wasn’t anything revolutionary. It was a $25 case by Spigen. It’s literally a brand that is trusted to protect your phones and designed to be affordable, sleek, and prevent your phone from cracking no matter how you throw it at the ground.

Yet how come almost everyone I meet has cracked at least three phones in the last 5 years? Because they don’t have a case or the choose a random case that isn’t designed to protect your phone from drops.

If they ever buy a case, it’s literally completely useless for protecting the phone. It doesn’t come out on the edges to prevent the damage of a drop. They opt simply for how “cool” or “pretty” the case looks.

Every day, there’s a chance you’ll drop your phone. You’re opening yourself to constant opportunities that will cost you at least $100 in repair or replacement, and several hours of extra time driving somewhere to get it done.

The point is this:

Eliminate small, unnecessary obstacles that result in big costs in time and money in the long run.

Another example is my home-built computer.

I was told by all these people on Reddit and online that it’s easy to build your own computer and so much cheaper.

What I didn’t realize was that these people were computer nerds.

It was more difficult than I imagined.

I ended up buying a majority of a pre-finished custom computer and adding in a couple custom parts for the rest. I had no interest in building one from scratch.

And even then, it had problems. It would sometimes take up to 10 minutes to boot up. The monitor would randomly go black indefinitely after 30 to 60 minutes of use. It would take at least 5 minutes to reboot and get back to where I was before.

On a daily basis, this was just 15 minutes of wasted time. But on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, that adds up.

Every year, that wasted 15 minutes adds up to 5475 hours of time where I’m just tearing my hair out in frustration. That is at least 91.25 hours a year of needless frustration.

I was probably going to use this PC for at least another 3 years so that’s at least 273.75 hours of wasted time. Can you imagine waiting in annoyance and frustration for 273 hours straight?

How much money could you have made in 273 hours? That’s 34.1 eight-hour workdays.

Suddenly, a $100 repair on a computer doesn’t sound that bad. And what ended up happening was I stopped using that desktop and just used working pre-built laptops.

I mostly focus on big wins because they have a bigger effect on your success. A random life hack on how to save 10 seconds peeling a banana faster is no interest to me.

Having said that, I wanted to show you why I also focus on the small things as well.

Some things add up in wasteful time if they’re part of your daily routine.

Other than the gym switch, I’m still on the hunt for big wastes of time that I can fix. A few that I came up with that I’ve done include:

  • working remote. The 30+ minute commute I used to take to and from work is gone. If I lived even farther away from work, which I know some who live like this, it would be even more
  • prioritizing the proximity of my gym and where I live to interesting activities I go to to reduce the commute time
  • finding ways of not having to spend as long cooking. Bulk cooking, 5 ingredient meals, or being okay with eating out.
  • choosing social activities and gyms/things to do based on how crowded or not crowded they are when I get there (No one likes waiting in line at the gym).

One caveat I would add is that saving time isn’t everything. You have to balance that with other priorities that matter, such as choosing a gym where everyone around you knows what they’re doing and you can feel that energy versus a low-tier gym where everyone is an amateur and the energy is weak and doesn’t help you level up; your environment matters.

If you’re an ambitious person, I challenge you to leave a comment answering these questions: What’s one thing that wastes 15 minutes of your day that you could outsource for cheaper? What’s the #1 thing you can do right now to use this information to improve your workflow?

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By Will Chou

I am the the founder of this site and I am grateful you are here to be part of this awesome community. I help hard-working Asian American Millennials get rich doing work they love.

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