A colleague texted me this afternoon to see if I had time for a coffee. I was in the middle of a writing project when she texted me. On one hand, I really wanted to have coffee and see her, but on the other hand, I really needed to finish my work. I paused and asked myself: “Should I have a coffee now or finish my work?” The choice was clear. I had to finish my work and not drag it out into the late hours of the night. Having coffee with my friend, as pleasant as it seemed, would have added stress to my day.

One of the most effective and efficient ways to avoid wasting time is to get in the habit of formulating and asking yourself choice-based questions before making a decision.

For example, ask yourself: “Shall I start my math homework assignment or browse through Instagram for a bit longer?”


“Shall I stay an hour longer at this party or get a head start on tomorrow by leaving now and planning out my day?”

Although you will find it difficult to choose the more productive option very consistently, pausing and asking yourself these questions nevertheless creates useful dialogues in your mind and provides you with more opportunities to make good decisions. Some of the decisions we make may appear trivial but we should strive to make firm, short-term choices that incrementally improve our lives.