Time wasters plague our lives from the cradle to the grave! It’s one of those things that creep up silently and literally take over our precious time. When we realize their presence, it’s too late.
However, if you are aware and conscious of how you spend your time, you already have started to manage it better. In this blog, we look at those activities that waste our time at work and how you can avoid them and blaze your way to productivity.
Table of contents
- What Are Time Wasters
- How To Identify Time Wasters At The Workplace
- The Top Time Wasters At Work And How To Avoid Them
- Inefficient engagements
- Smartphones and Social Media
- Checking and responding to emails too often
- Disorganized workspace and clutter
- Lack of motivation
- Unhealthy diet
- Doing tasks manually
- Avoiding Time Wasters With TimeTackle
What Are Time Wasters
Any activities that don’t have objectives and impactful results can be termed as time wasters. Moreover, these tend to de-focus our attention from activities that need to get done on a day to day basis to those that suck up our time without giving us any concrete outcome.
Simply put, the activities that were not pre-planned and that prevent employees from completing planned tasks are wasters of time.
The reason that such activities get a hold on our lives could be various.
↣ to avoid an important and urgent task
↣ a boring meeting where we don’t feel like paying attention.
↣ having no task at hand
↣ waiting for other employees to get their work done
↣ getting sucked into a time sink.
Let’s move on to the next section to learn how to identify which tasks waste our time.
How To Identify Time Wasters At The Workplace
Obvious Time Wasters 💁
Obvious ones are activities like binge-watching a series on Netflix or scrolling down the Facebook news feed and completely losing track of time.
Even when workers try to know what’s happening around the globe from a news website, they don’t stop at reading the headlines but get deeper without having any control over the time they are wasting.
Hidden Time Wasters 🙅
On the other hand, some time sinks are not so obvious. What we guise some tasks as an important part of a bigger task could actually be wasting work time.
Like instead of doing a certain activity, if you spend a lot of time researching how to do that, it’s a hidden time waster. You could have easily spent all that time getting the work done.
So, if you want to know how to identify any job that could end in wasted time, ask yourself the following questions the next time you’re about to start:
· Did I plan on doing this task?
· Does this task have one or more objectives?
· Are the objectives SMART?
· How is this task going to help me or the team in a positive way?
· Is it high on my or the team priority list?
The Top Time Wasters At Work And How To Avoid Them
Here’s a list of the biggest time wasters at work and how you can avoid them. These will help keep individual and team focus where they should be and get recognition from the management for increased productivity.
Inefficient interactions in the workplace include:
→ unproductive meetings
→ watercooler chats
→ snack breaks
→ gossiping, and
→ loud co-workers who trigger distraction and make people less productive.
Signs Of An Inefficient Meeting
Whenever you are required to attend a meeting or you are about to send a meeting request, think about the objectives of the meeting and the role each attendee is going to play there.
If you see that there are no new updates or information to share or you don’t need to approve of any decision, then participating in that meeting will surely be a time waster.
Watercooler Interaction Facts
Beware of these time wasters and when you feel that an unnecessary conversation is about to take place, politely excuse yourself and get back to work. You will score brownie points with the management.
Gossip Will Get You!
For many of us, the workplace is not the ideal location to be for 8 hours of the day. We blame the management, the lack of any system in the office, how unqualified our team members are, and so on.
Indulging in office gossip is the worst thing you can do to yourself. Not only do you give the impression that you are susceptible to such gossip, but you also become the giver and receiver of negative energy that defocuses you from the important tasks you need to do.
If a co-worker starts to say something negative about people, walk away.
Block Out Loudmouths!
When some of your co-workers are loud, use a pair of noise-canceling headphones and put on some light music to help you focus on your work. If space allows, you can move to another part of the office where sound will not reach you.
Smartphones and Social Media
You think you will take just a peek into your personal Instagram account but you end up looking at the stories your friends have posted, counting the number of hearts your latest vacation photo garnered, watching a recipe video on YouTube, and reading comments from strangers on a personal post that has nothing to do with you. And while you’re at it, you also check if there is any juicy news on the WhatsApp group chat.
How To Curb The Social Media Madness
If you don’t handle your smartphones smartly, these stop being smart. You can look at social media while commuting or when work is done. This way you are not going to waste office hours.
Another way is by turning off notifications. If it doesn’t ping, it doesn’t distract your attention from the task you’re doing. You can opt for a do-not-disturb mode too.
Some people go as far as deleting social media apps from their devices and go on a detox. If you don’t want to go this far, you can always set aside a specific block during the day when you check your email or social media accounts.
Checking and responding to emails too often
At the back of our mind, there’s a nagging feeling that the email ping we just heard might be some urgent email by the boss or a client. We easily fall into the trap of checking our email too often and then responding to them immediately.
If it’s something really urgent, chances are that your client or boss will give you a call. So, chill and put 30 minutes away daily during the day when you will read your email and respond to them according to their importance.
Our brain is not equipped to give equal focus on multiple tasks at the same time. Although people may think it’s pretty smart to write, glance at the smartphone, and answer phone calls at the same breath.
The truth is they have not been able to perform a single task efficiently. Their focus was all over the place and soon some or all the tasks may need to be done again.
To stop multitasking, you have to use the Eisenhower matrix to plot personal and team tasks on the urgency and importance parameters.
Multitasking is a huge time waster at work and can be handled only by putting tasks in the right order of priority.
Disorganized workspace and clutter
When you see files, folders, uncapped pens, and sheets are strewn all over your desk, it certainly doesn’t give you a feeling of calm and control.
Moreover, if you’re looking for that vendor bill under the pile of clutter, it is a big time waster at work. Therefore, it also puts a serious dent in your productivity and your energy level as you can’t get work done on time.
Filing systems are there to help you maintain an organized workstation. Use different types of clips to hold loose sheets together.
Or, put away the stuff that you don’t need daily in drawers. Put all your pens, markers, and pencils in a holder.
Add a personal touch by keeping your family photo or a vase of fresh flowers or a souvenir.
Lack of motivation
Okay, so you don’t work in one of the Fortune 500 companies. Maybe your office is not exactly plush. Or, it could be that you aren’t particularly fond of your job. But you have to face reality and it is what it is.
Don’t wallow in self-pity or moan about your job that would result in wasted time. Think about the work related perks or any positive side. Write these down and put them in front of you.
Practicing daily gratitude can bring you out from a state of lack of motivation. Once you start to affirm the positives, you will be more appreciative. You will gradually move toward starting and completing your tasks without wasting time.
“That rolling marketing budget for Q2 is going to take tons of hard work and lots of communication with the Sales head and the regional reps. Groan… Maybe I’ll start this tomorrow.”
The level of difficulty of any task is directly proportional to your tendency to procrastinate, another time waster at work.
The only way out of procrastination is by forcing yourself to start the activity no matter how tough it is. The moment you put your pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard, you have overcome the tendency to procrastinate.
Not starting at all will lead to more stress, wasting more time, and ultimately a non-productive you.
Break down the task into smaller parts and focus on one part at a time. Pat yourself on the back after you complete each segment. Before long, you will find you have completed the job.
“You are what you eat.” Nothing can be truer than this oft-quoted statement. What we put in our bodies comes back to us in the form of our energy level, physical and mental well-being (or not).
The empty calories in energy drinks and that sugary, frothing, creamy, and foamy coffee concoction from your favorite café do more harm than good. Sure they give a spike in your energy level. But that’s for the short term only.
The juicy burger with layers of processed cheese with a side of fries and a dip make you feel heavy, bloated, and uncomfortable. Who would want to work in this state!
If you eat balanced meals daily and drink plain water, you’re likely to feel light, full of energy, alert, and ready to take on anything work-related. Don’t waste time on your unhealthy diet.
Doing tasks manually
If you’re someone still using the paper and notebook or manually creating calendars, don’t waste time at work!
Use the whole host of digital apps that make life easier, more organized, and best of all – save time. Just by using Google Suite, you can stop wasting time at work as you can make notes, create tasks, send meeting requests, and do everything else virtually.
From your smartphone, you can manage a whole team and all your work with the right apps that bump up your productivity.
If you have it 98% correct, no need to go back to it and strive to make it 100%. Perfectionism is another time waster at work. It can come in the guise of efficiency but it’s more like spending a whole lot more hours just to make an insignificant difference.
Avoiding Time Wasters With TimeTackle
Logging your daily activities and meetings in your calendar and then running a calendar audit is the best way to keep track of how you spend time and avoid time wasters at work.
TimeTackle has it all to capture and crunch the calendar numbers to produce an impressive analysis and prevent waste of time at work.
Read the absolute numbers, percentages, graphs, and charts. You can identify unproductive meetings, time wasted at water cooler chats, time spent in coffee breaks, indulging in gossip, and checking social media highs and lows.
Check the Meeting Health 💪
Break down all meetings by hours and other time choices to get an insight into the health of meetings.
Track your Work 📈
Track your work progress by clocking in all related activities and conducting calendar analytics with TimeTackle to prevent you from procrastinating.
Keep an account of every event and all meetings with TimeTackle to keep you going in alignment with your KPIs.
Let TimeTackle identify the most and least productive hours of the day or week for you so that you can do effective block scheduling. So, use that time for checking and answering emails, schedule similar meetings, decluttering your desk, and focus on any task that is high on your priority list.
In short, you can create time pockets for deep work instead of resorting to ineffective multitasking that lowers your productivity.
There will always be interruptions and distractions but it’s up to you how you handle these interruptions and prevent time wasting to increase productivity. And with a little help from TimeTackle, you can go from a time waster to a time manager in no time.