12 things smart people don’t waste their time on

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Being highly intelligent is more than just having a high IQ or understanding advanced science.

There’s more than one way to become highly intelligent, which could make it difficult for others to become one themselves.

But observe enough highly intelligent people and you’ll begin to see patterns in their behavior – specifically how they manage their time.

They have the same 24 hours just like the rest of us.

The difference isn’t what they do with it, however, but instead what they don’t do.

Paying attention to what they don’t waste their time on helps us better understand what sets them apart from others.

So here are 12 things smart people don’t bother spending time on.

1. Consuming Shallow Media

In our age of streaming, it’s easier than before to watch movies or an entire series in just a weekend.

Anyone, anywhere can tune in to the newest reality TV show or celebrity gossip series.

But spending that much time in front of a screen could have some adverse effects on the brain.

Research suggests that people who spend 3.5 hours a day in front of the screen could experience cognitive decline.

Highly intelligent people, valuing their own knowledge, look for other ways to stimulate their mind.

Maybe they have an active hobby such as playing a sport, or creative passions such as playing the violin.

They don’t waste their time on things that won’t ultimately benefit their own mind.

2. Wallowing in Regret

We’ve all done things in the past that we aren’t proud of.

Looking back at those moments can send us a pang of regret; it becomes too easy to return to those moments in our heads and try to imagine a different outcome.

We might wish we had said something else, or done something differently, if only.

But then we return to the present feeling worse about ourselves for not having been better.

Highly intelligent people tend to avoid replaying the past over and over because they have a more pressing concern: living in the moment.

They understand that no matter what ending we imagine in our past moments, nothing can change what has already happened.

So there’s no point in them wishing for different outcomes.

Instead, they might now focus on doing the best they can today while they still can.

3. Looking for the Best Tools

When you look at a successful artist, one of the first thoughts that might pop into your mind is “What tools are they using? What brush are they using? What software or computer model do they have? What camera is that?”

While the tools that professionals use tend to contribute to the quality of their output, it often isn’t the defining factor.

Others tend to look at these tools and think that “If professionals have these tools, I’m going to be just like them”

But that isn’t always the case. The tools are merely an extension of the professionals’ abilities.

While others focus on what the best pencil is for writing, highly intelligent people would rather spend their time learning how to actually write better.

4. Processes That Can Be Made Easier

There are certain activities that don’t have to be as difficult as we think. Take cooking, for instance.

Often, people who might already be working hard have to take precious time out of their day to prepare their own meals.

But highly intelligent people understand that, if outsourcing the meal prep would cost less than their hourly wage, it would be worth it.

There are always going to be ways to earn more money.

But you can’t do that with time.

That’s why highly intelligent people protect it at all costs.

If they simply pay for a service to deliver them healthy food on a regular basis, they’ll be able to save hours preparing food and use it to improve in their work.

5. Focusing Too Much on the Negative

Thinking in worst-case scenarios could be helpful… sometimes.

When someone is planning, say, a wedding, it’s important to consider what might go wrong.

What if the catering doesn’t arrive on time? What if the weather is bad? What if crashers ruin the event?

These are important problems to have prepared solutions for should they come up.

But spending too much time worrying about what could go wrong might also not be productive.

It could adversely affect one’s emotions and could even discourage them from taking any action.

So highly intelligent people instead acknowledge that some things could go wrong, and then address them in the present moment as soon as they can.

6. Hoping Too Much for Positive Outcomes

While luck does play a role in one’s success, it often isn’t the only determining factor.

Other people might do the bare minimum and simply hope for success.

Highly intelligent people, on the other hand, understand that replaying imaginations of grandeur and success without taking any action keeps their dreams from turning into a reality.

So instead of hoping for good outcomes, highly intelligent people do what they can to get the odds in their favor, whether it be working smarter, learning a new skill, or meeting new people to find more ways to encounter better opportunities for themselves.

7. Avoiding Their Problems

When others feel down, it’s common for some to try to look for distractions.

Maybe they meet up with friends, visit clubs for one-night stands, or immerse themselves in their work.

While they may keep the negative emotions at bay, these are ultimately band-aid solutions.

Highly intelligent people know that an even more effective way to overcome their negative emotions is to acknowledge them.

8. Impressing Others

Highly intelligent people don’t tend to be the type to play status games, seeing who’s better than others.

They don’t walk around, showing off how intelligent they are.

They tend to be modest with their abilities because they know there’s something more important they need to be concerned with.

Instead of saying they’re much more skilled than others, they let their achievements and work do the talking instead.

9. Worrying About What Others Think of Them

The opinions of others are one of the things that are completely out of our own control.

No matter what we say or how we say it, ultimately, it comes down to the person to decide what they think of us.

Since there’s nothing we can do about it, highly intelligent people don’t waste their time stressing about it.

10. Spending Time with Fake Friends

Highly intelligent people don’t waste their time on friends who spread negativity or are only there just to get something out of the friendship.

Maybe the highly intelligent person is wealthy, so the friend only sticks around because of the free meals or the lavish parties.

But when the highly intelligent person asks for help, their “friend” always seems unavailable.

But highly intelligent people would be quick to spot how authentic their friends really are and cut off the fake ones.

11. Waiting for the Perfect Moment

Some people believe that they’re destined for greatness and success – if only the right moment would come.

Then they inevitably watch life pass them by, never making any meaningful progress on their goals.

Highly intelligent people are aware of the fact that conditions are never going to be perfect to get started on their goals.

So they just go for it and improve along the way.

12. Taking Avoidable Risks

In every decision and action we make, there is always going to be a balance of risks and luck. The outcome is out of our hands.

But the action is 100% with us.

Say your boss assigns you with an important project to complete.

There might be certain details of the assignment you’re unsure about – but you don’t want to appear incompetent to your boss.

So instead of asking for a clarification, you go along with it, working on an assignment you aren’t sure about.

When you give it back to your boss and they say that it wasn’t what they were looking for, all the time and energy you put into it was wasted. That was an avoidable risk.

A highly intelligent person might have asked for clarifications sooner.

This way, they could avoid spending all the time and energy on a misunderstood goal.

13. Highly Intelligent Time Management

One of the reasons why highly intelligent people can be so efficient and, well, intelligent with their use of their time is because they understand what actually matters to them.

Knowing what’s most important to you isn’t often very clear, but it’s crucial to do so.

They will help determine whether an activity is actually worth your time or isn’t.

Knowing what matters to you helps give you more focus and direction in your life.

You might love to write, so you rationalize that doing writing practices would be an intelligent use of your time.

If you know you’re weak with sentence construction, then there’s no point in running spelling drills.

But to someone who likes to paint and become a painter, what you enjoy might seem more trivial.



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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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