When I think about wastefulness, the first thing that comes to mind is leaving lights on while you’re at work. Or pumping the A/C instead of turning on a fan. Or filling up your gas tank just to cruise around the neighborhood. While these things definitely aren’t great for the environment or your wallet, there are so many other signs you’re being wasteful, as well as ways to do it.
“Being wasteful doesn’t always mean in terms of money,” life coach Jaya Jaya Myra tells Bustle. “It can mean being wasteful with time, space, energy, and anything else you value. Anything in excess can clutter the mind and emotions.” And that’s never a good thing.
If you can recognize how you’re being wasteful with your time, for example, you might be able to find ways to free up your schedule. (Always a good thing, right?) “This is a great place to zero in when you’re wanting to develop yourself,” says self-mastery strategist Danny Zoucha, in an email to Bustle. “So, let’s start itemizing ways we can identify our wastefulness in a number of aspects.” Read on for some examples of how you might be wasting your time, your money, and your energy, as well as how to rein it all back in.
The lure of the grocery store (and awesome sales) can make overfilling your cart pretty tempting. And yet, as physician Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD, MS tells me, this habit can end up being incredibly wasteful. So from now on, promise you’ll only shop with a list. “Planning ahead of time … makes it less likely that you will diverge from your list, and make unnecessary food purchases that may likely go to waste,” she says. That way you can get exactly what you need, and save yourself from the horror that is number two below.
Good for you buying fresh produce. But unless you’re in a family of 14, it’s often impossible to use all those bags of spinach and cartons of tomatoes before they go bad. That’s why it’s so important to buy less, or shop more often, so you can make sure you’ll actually have time to cook everything before it rots.
If you’re being wasteful, Myra tells me you might catch yourself using disposable cups while you travel. Or blowing through several paper coffee cups a day. Sound familiar? If so, a few tweaks to your routine (like finally getting a disposable water bottle) can make all the difference in the world.
As I said above, waste can apply to many things — including your time. That’s why, as Myra tells me, if you’re spending more than 30 minutes a day online, you might be wasting your time. Unless it’s your job to be on the internet, experiment with spending less time on social media and more time with friends, your partner, or outside in the wonders of nature.
Take a look at all the stuff accumulating around your apartment. “If you have four or more entire sets of bath towels, hand towels, toilet seat covers, shower curtains, floor mats and scented candles — you need to consider yourself a near-hoarder,” says Zoucha. Or, at the very least, someone who needs to do a little spring cleaning.
A week can easily fly by in an instant, so be careful with what you agree to and what you put on your calendar. “If you waste time on unimportant things, you’ll likely not have time if something important comes up,” Myra says. And that’s not OK.
If clothes are your thing, then enjoy your full closet and don’t feel bad about it. But sometimes, an overflowing wardrobe can be a sign of waste. If you can’t keep track of what you own, or you spend a lot of money on things you never wear, it may be time to reevaluate your priorities, Myra tells me. By doing so, “you can save money, and have a cleaner, more organized space.”
Do you get millions of paper fliers and bills in the mail? If so, spend some time making calls, canceling subscriptions, and going paperless wherever possible. “Identifying areas of waste will help you find opportunities to save money and will often positively impact the wider community and environment as well,” says leadership coach Aenslee Tanner. “Don’t make the mistake of thinking little things you do don’t make a difference — they absolutely do!”
OK, so sometimes a busy schedule can’t be helped. And yet, there’s nothing healthy or helpful about letting to do lists run away with you. “Mind clutter is a huge sign of wastefulness,” Zoucha says. “It shows a complete lack of focus.” To waste less brain power — and get more focused — he suggests narrowing down your goals and resisting the urge to spread yourself too thin.
If you’re consistently the last one left in the office at night, it may be a sign you’re wasting your time. “Again, this comes down to focus,” Zoucha says. “You are too bright of a star to dim yourself through diffusion.” So narrow down what you’re willing to contribute to, and do your best at saying “no” to the rest.
Getting a new phone or the latest laptop is fun and refreshing. (So many new features!) And yet, if your current model still functions, Zoucha tells me it’s almost always wasteful to snatch up that new one. Instead, you might want to clean up your current laptop or quell your desire for newness by getting some different apps. Anything to stick with what you have.
And, of course, to prevent wastefulness. Whether it’s with your time, your money, or your electric bill, wastefulness abounds in so many of our lives.
Learn more at Bustle