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.

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Kill your time-wasters in 5 steps

Probably the first rule in economy for making money is actually saving money, sewing your pockets, identifying those unnecessary things that eat your money and getting rid of them – this also goes for time management – the first thing you need to do in order to save time is to stop wasting time.

We all know how easy it is to waste so much time by either doing nothing or doing completely irrelevant stuff that only brings frustration and non-productivity. Let’s check out some steps that can help us getting these obstacles out of the way:

1. Start with the Truth

This requires something that at times might be difficult to exercise – self-honesty. A good start here would be asking yourself these questions and laying the cards all out on the table (you can even write them down):

Am I completely honest with how I spend my time?

Am I a procrastinator?

Am I often frustrated from not finishing what I have planed to do in a day?

Am I aware of the things that waste my time?

Am I aware of the ways to get rid of the “time wasters”?

Am I aware of my priorities?

Am I satisfied with what I get from the way I spend my free time?

Am I willing to improve my time management skills?

2. Stop random email/social networks checks/clicks

These short interruptions from work are detrimental to your productivity not simply and only in terms of the actual time you have wasted with them – most often we forget to take into consideration the time it takes to regain our concentration after each stop.

3. Remember: You hold the reins

Recognizing yourself as the one in charge over your day and productivity is the key to accomplishing what you want. Assume responsibility and even extract from it the pleasure of being in control of your tasks – you can simplify your time-management using some digital or manual tools such as planners, and calendars, etc.

4. Stop drifting away

Don’t leave your day to chance. Make a schedule (to include time for yourself). Starting each morning without a roadmap will get you wasting time trying to find purpose in what you’re doing, wandering around a sense of direction. 10 minutes of planning will save you even hours within a day.

5. Stop procrastinating – remove the unessential

While some type of procrastination is very easy to identify, there’s another, subtler one that fools even the hardest-working among us. It’s the pseudo-busyness that we ‘achieve’ by filling our time with smaller, insignificant tasks which we then use to justify not getting not work on the real important ones or our lack of energy and desire for commitment.

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Essentials of time management

One of the first things you learn when entering the business world is the implicit value of time. It’s the one resource that is absolutely essential and yet can’t be increased. Time management is easily one of the most important variables in the equation for success. Indeed, it pays to think of your business’ success as an equation to get a sense of the value of its components. Here’s my go-to formula:

Success = (Talent + Innovation) * Productive Time

Thinking in these terms you can easily see the outsize value of time management. Squeezing a little bit more productive time out of your day actually has a greater effect on your overall success than any other component. The problem is that while you can permanently increase your talent, and augment innovation using many of the tips found in this magazine, your time will always be strictly limited.


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