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  • Nov 23, 2016
  • 5 Min

The unequal battle against yourself: fighting against chronophages


Last time we discussed time devourers and how to identify your own chronophages. Today it’s time for action. Let’s try and devise an adequate strategy to counter against the devourers of our precious time.

Can a hobby become a chronophage?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as there are different types of hobbies. But you can surely figure out if they are in fact the gluttonous chronophages. Let’s take a sheet of paper and split it into four columns. In  the first one you need to list all your hobbies (if there are many), in the second – all the pros a certain hobby has. The third column is for honest account of how much time a day (week/month) you dedicate to each of the hobbies. The fourth column you are going to need for writing down any cons that hobby comes with. You may be constantly late to work because you are an avid melomaniac. Or you may not be meeting deadlines for your projects because you are so fascinated with knitting. At this point it’s very important to be honest with yourself and not make justifications for yourself or your hobby.

If the fourth column clearly tells us that a hobby has detrimental effects on our productivity and efficiency, while the pros from the second column are not too convincing, the hobby can obviously be classified as a chronophage. Even if you cannot give it up completely (it’s a hobby after all), you should try and cut down on the time you dedicate to it. You might even need to fine yourself for excessive devotion to it, to achieve a better result.

Inability to say no is a reason for many evils

Practice shows that inability to say no to people causes a multitude of problems. It’s one of the most ravenous chronophages. The worst thing is that not always your agreement to do someone a favor generates real value or any particular significance.

You must absolutely do your best to get rid of this devourer. It’s pretty easy to do: make a plan for the day and see that you don’t really have that much free time, a couple of hours at the most. And now decide whether you are prepared to spend this small period trying to solve other people’s problems.

And don’t think that saying no always translates into negativity. Absolutely not. Any straight-thinking person will completely understand if they see how busy you are. Besides, keep in mind that even if you choose to shoulder extra duties, it does not mean everyone will be boundlessly grateful. That’s just the way life is.

Perfectionism is the most damaging of all human qualities

It’s our pursuit of perfection that makes us do it all (and perfectly so). Unfortunately, this cannot lead to anything but a nervous breakdown, as perfection is essentially  impossible to achieve. Perfection doesn’t exist in nature, because everyone has their own idea of what perfect is like. Make a rule for yourself: never to do more than one thing during a set time period and stop yourself in time. Good is good enough.

Devising a counter strategy

As soon as you note down the time dedicated to all your chronophages, it will become clear that you simply do not have so many free hours and days to spend pointlessly. Moreover, all of us could use a couple of hours a day to do something useful. And we are always running short of that time. Below we will define strategic points that will allow performing effective self-acupuncture to treat the procrastination syndrome.

1) A clear sense of purpose and systematic planning will not leave any room for chronophages. Plan ahead your whole day and you will understand there isn’t a single minute for idle chatting, senseless browsing and other nonsense. You really need just 20 minutes to answer your e-mails.

2) Vanity is a very efficient tool, as it helps you properly prioritize. And if you take some time to ponder on chronophages putting some distance between you and the goals you set, you will clearly see it’s time to cast them out of your life for good.

3) Cold calculation tends to have a sobering effect. Sometimes it makes sense to calculate what exactly you are losing thanks to the time devourers. Maybe the cold hard numbers will help make your favorite game or social network “conferencing” less appealing.

4) The stick is another useful tool. When the carrot isn’t working, there is always the stick. Come up with a system of fines for own inability to give up your “weaknesses” – and you might just free up some time for truly useful things.

5) Think about how you could spend the time you would otherwise be wasting. While recording the time spent on your chronophages it may be useful to think how the time you are wasting could be spent. Often the alternative turns out to be much more appealing than the actual chronophage. Just make sure you don’t swap one chronophage for another.

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