4 things that make you waste time at work

When you’re at work, you want to be productive. You don’t want to get in trouble with your boss, you want to look good for that promotion, and you want as much of your work done by 5 as possible so you don’t have to take it home. So what are the things that are killing your productivity? Here’s a quick look.

1. IMing. Whether you’re using facebook, gchat, Skype, or another IM client, IMing is a huge time waster. Sure, it’s super-convenient because you don’t have to get up to ask your co-workers questions, but it’s far too easy for the chatter to get off topic, or at least off topics relevant to the work that you are currently trying to complete. Save time by not signing in to IM programs at work in the first place or by setting your status to away.

2. Too much email. Sometimes, it’s actually quicker to just get up and go ask a question. You don’t have to wait for each response and, of course, you can communicate more quickly – and more precisely – in person. Sometimes the answers you get in person are more valuable, too, because you can read the other person’s body language and see how their non-verbal cues reflect on what they are saying.

3. Tiny scheduling gaps. When you have 15 or 20 minutes between meetings or appointments, there’s not much productive you’re liable to accomplish in that time. You’ll maybe respond to some emails – which may have been answered more quickly in person – and then kill some time at the water cooler. There’s pretty much nothing worthwhile you get done, though. Scheduling your appointment back-to-back can prevent those little 15-minute breaks. Of course, that only really works for meetings and conference calls within the office; if you’re attending an outside appointment you’ll need to allow time for commuting.

4. Multi-tasking. You might be good at multi-tasking, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Multi-tasking is one of the ways that it’s really easy to get sucked into IM chats and lengthy email exchanges. If you don’t see yourself as wasting time IMing, but rather as being doubly productive by IMing while you write up that report … well, you’re still IMing. Sometimes multi-tasking can just distract you from the task at hand. Set specific times for doing things like answering your voice mails and responding to emails. Don’t just answer every call, IM, and email and chalk it up to multi-tasking. You might still flip back and forth between a couple tasks at once, but make sure that those tasks don’t include any of the major time wasters. Those should just be dealt with at designated times.

Can Akdeniz

Can Akdeniz is the author of seven books and founder of Business Hacker, a popular business blog. His books such as Go Nuts, Cool Boss, Happy Company and MBA 2.0 have changed how people think about business, productivity and work.