How to Test If Your Wasting Time on a Project

Sometimes, things just don’t go according to plan. That’s life. To avoid wasting time, it’s critical to recognize when it’s time to hang up your hat and call it quits. Frankly, people have a hard time doing so. Their emotional or financial investment keeps them holding on to a lost cause.

Step 1: Recognize Time Wasting Biases

There are two biases that come into play that prevents people from accepting time losses.

The sunk-cost bias couples’ investment with success. If you invest $10 000 more, the more likely you will succeed, right? Wrong. The fact your previous investment didn’t succeed confirms that your next investment won’t.

The opportunity-bias is a result of believing your investment was worth it. You’ve spent 8 months chasing a customer, now you’re emotionally invested in making that sale. Quitting would make all that effort worthless, right? Wrong. Accept your loss and take it as a learning opportunity.

Step 2: Reflect on Your Time Spent

To free yourself from these biases ask yourself this fundamental question.

Knowing what you know after the time investment, would you spend more time?

Imagine it was the first time you saw this task, strategy, action, decision etc. and you had never done anything around it before. Then, analyze your predicted outcomes in relation to your true outcomes and time spent.

Step 3: Reassess the Time Commitment

Now that you’ve determined you’ve wasted your time. You need to learn how to properly identify time commitments worth your while. Ask yourself these questions:

What decision am I making and do I have the information to assess if it is a good use of my time?

To ensure that you’re making the most of your time, only do what you can do. If there are people, processes or technology that could do it better and more efficiently, utilize them!

Is the task something that is repeatable?

This requires determining which subtasks are necessary to deliver a larger task. If you notice a pattern, build a process that will decrease the workload the second time around or allow someone else to do it.

By keeping these three-time commitment tests in mind, you’ll instantly save yourself time.