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10 Ways to Stop Employees from Wasting Their Valuable Time

10 Ways to Stop Employees from Wasting Their Valuable Time

More than 60 percent of workers have admitted to wasting up to an hour of time every workday. There are a variety of reasons that this happens, and some of them are inadvertently caused by the tools that they are given to perform their job. After all, even if someone is actively working on an assigned task, this does not mean that time is not being wasted by a less than desirable setup. The good news is that there are numerous ways to reduce time waste, ranging from keeping employees focused on their job to eliminating work-related time suckers.

1. Keep Meetings Short

The typical meeting is twice as long as it needs to be, and this causes 91 percent of attendees to end up daydreaming instead of focusing on the topics at hand. Therefore, it is critical to make your meetings a more realistic length, and you also need to stop inviting people who do not absolutely need to be there. Take a moment to think about mandatory team meetings and the people who actually attend them. If someone is going to be in a meeting who will not gain any useful information to fulfill their role, then they should not be forced to attend. This combined with shorter meetings will minimize wasted time and help boost productivity.

2. Invest in Proper Tools

The software and other tools that you provide your employees with can either help them excel or drastically hinder their performance. For example, if you are using an outdated point of sale machine, your employees may end up being forced to waste time on getting everything to run properly. On the other hand, modern iOS and Android POS setups such as those offered by mSteamPOS.com are designed specifically to be simple yet powerful tools that anyone can utilize.

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3. Have Notification Free Times

The typical office environment causes employees to spend a whopping 28 percent of their day reading and responding to emails. Although this is a good way to share information, being constantly plugged into emails can actually be the root cause of a lot of wasted time. This is because people tend to automatically respond to each new notification that they receive, whether it is for an email or a comment on their latest Facebook status update. To help combat this problem, you can designate certain notification free times during the workday. Having everyone close their inbox and turn off the notification sound for an hour or so at a time will enable them to pay closer attention to other tasks.

4. Consider Changing Your Schedule Parameters

Have you ever had a specific task to complete in one day that you knew you could finish in four hours but waited until after lunch to focus on? The truth is that many people are motivated by deadlines, and they will also waste any extra time that they receive. To remove this issue, you may wish to consider changing your schedule parameters to encourage speedy and accurate work. When it comes down to it, if people could go home early if their work was performed in a satisfactory manner, many of them would stop wasting so much time. If you actually need to get eight hours out of everyone, you could consider offering rewards for meeting certain faster deadlines.

5. Implement Several Short Breaks into the Day

Surveys have shown that the majority of workers can only focus for one hour or less at a time, so it actually makes sense to offer a five minute break every hour to help purposefully concentrate wasted time. In other words, allowing your employees to goof off for the last five minutes of every hour should help them stay more on task throughout the rest of the day.

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6. Install a Social Media Blocker

Installing a social media blocker can help reduce wastefulness. However, if you leave the blocker in place all the time, employees will simply turn to their cellphones or personal laptops to get their social media fix. A good compromise is to turn the social media blocker off during scheduled breaks or to install a blocker that allows you to input specific time variables. This will give workers some flexibility but will also instill the message that most of their day needs to be productive instead of wasteful.

7. Create a Training Culture

Surveys have shown that approximately 40 percent of employers do not place a major emphasis on training. This is one of the biggest mistakes that your company can make, especially if you want to reduce wasted time on the clock. Consider for a moment how inefficient employees tend to be when they do not have the necessary training to attend to all of their daily tasks. Not only does this reduce productivity but it also causes job satisfaction to plummet. As a result, even well-trained employees will suffer due to the actions of those around them, and your company will lose more time finding replacement employees. You can avoid these problems by creating a training culture.

8. Provide Solid Instructions for Each Task

Most people want to do a good job, but this becomes very difficult if they are not given good enough instructions. In fact, spending a few minutes giving a thorough overview of how a task needs to be completed can end up saving you tons of wasted time in the long run. Keep in mind that each employee has different needs when it comes to instructions. Therefore, repeat instructions when it is necessary and allow other employees to take the ball and run with it after they have exhibited a high level of competency in the desired area.

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9. Tie Goals and Timely Completion into a Bonus Structure

It has been proven that a realistic goal and bonus structure can boost productivity and reduce time waste, so this is definitely something that companies of all types should consider implementing. One study by the Harvard Business School found that quarterly bonuses are more effective than annual ones, and you may even want to look into switching to a monthly structure to get the best results.

10. Utilize Vacation Time and Flextime to Minimize Burnout

Professional burnout can happen for a variety of reasons, ranging from repetitive tasks to constantly working long hours. The good news is that vacation time and flextime can be used to help prevent burnout from occurring. Essentially, you need to make sure that each of your employees has a break every so often because this will be good for their mental and physical health, and it will also make them waste less time when they are on the clock.

Now that you have a better grasp of how to prevent employees from wasting time, it is also wise to give them time management tips that they can put to work in every aspect of their life. Always remember that the training, breaks, bonuses and other tools that you put in place can be instrumental in reducing wasted time and improving employee morale.

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Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Holly Chavez

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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

Are you looking to move up the career ladder? Or maybe you’re tired of having a “job” and want to start looking for a more permanent career?

Whatever your motivation, you are going to have to learn some new and different hard skills to broaden your opportunities. After all, there’s a very famous quote that says:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

While the insanity part doesn’t really fit here, the overall message is a good one. If you are looking for a different result (career advancement, more money or even a career instead of a job), it’s up to you to make it happen. This is both the good news and bad news!

The good news is that because it’s up to you, you have complete control over it happening. The bad news is that change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit, that’s why we develop routines, and anything that disrupts that routine causes us anxiety. And we will do almost anything to get rid of that anxiety. The overweight person will calm their anxiety by eating that doughnut, the smoker will light up a cigarette to avoid anxiety.

What we want to do with this article is to give you the hard skills you’ll need to reduce that anxiety so you can move up that corporate ladder, make more money or have career instead of just a “job.”

The following hard skills are essential to learn if you want to advance your career. They may not be easy to take up, but definitely worth your effort of learning:

1. Cloud Computing

“Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet “the cloud” to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.” Microsoft[1]

There are many different jobs available in the cloud computing world today. They range from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros. Each job is its own specialty and requires a high level of specification for advancement.

This is definitely a hard skill that requires education. But if the tech world and computers are your thing you can make cloud computing a lucrative career.

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2. Data Mining and Statistical Analysis

Again, these are highly specialized fields. Data mining is defined as using large sets of data to look for anomalies and other patterns that can be used to predict future behavior.

Amazon is probably the best known company to use data mining. Have you ever noticed that when you buy something at Amazon, you’ll see a little ad at the bottom that says “customers who bought this also bought…”and it lists 2-3 other items? All of that information comes from data mining, by examining the millions of sales amazon makes they can predict that if you buy item #1 there is a high likelihood that you will buy one of the other items too. T

his not only increases sales for Amazon, but it also serves as a reminder for you that you may need these additional items for your project. This is very valuable information and has a wide range of uses. Although it has a bad reputation and evil sounding name, it is a very useful tool for maximizing productivity and sales.

3. Data Management

All companies today deal with a ton of data! Being able to manage that data in an efficient manor is not only highly prized, but a necessity.

We all have these things on our desks called computers. Unless there is a need for a paper copy, almost all of our data is computerized. Meaning that, in theory it is all at our fingertips. Being able to organize that data so that it’s easily and quickly retrievable is why computers are replacing filing cabinets!

However, just like the old fashion filing cabinet, data management on a computer is only good if it’s well organized. You want to make sure that you are keeping your data well organized so that it’s easy to find when needed. This is a skill that comes easily to some people (are you a person that makes lists? Good!) but with others it will be a skill that needs to be practices. Make sure that this is a discipline you master.

4. Scheduling

Being able to make and keep to a schedule is a very useful tool in both business and life. Effective scheduling means that you can prioritize projects, understand the tools needed to get the job done on time and that you are organized enough to lead people.

An important point here is to write things down! Whether it’s in an old fashion daily or weekly organizer or in a PDA. Have a copy of your schedule available at your fingertips at all times.

5. Financial Skills

These are especially important when looking for that promotion. The higher up the ladder you go, the more you’ll have to deal with things like accounting, budgeting, financial planning and cash flow management.

While you may not need to be an expert at all of these, you should have a good grasp of all of them. This is where taking a few night classes at your local community college is a good idea. You don’t need to become an expert, but brushing up on these skills will help you tremendously.

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6. Research Skills

These are important in all aspects of life, but especially in your work-life.

Are you looking for that first job out of school? Nothing impresses a boss or hiring manager more than someone who has researched the company. Trust me, they deal with people walking in off the street everyday looking for a job, but managers and owners need to see the value in hiring (or promoting) you.

So do your research and have some company specific questions ready to ask. Show that you are interested in working for that company or that position and not just “a” job or the “promotion” because you have seniority or need the money.

If it’s a promotion that you are after, never bad mouth the previous occupant. Instead pick out an example that he/she was good at and explain how you would like to use or expand that policy and how it would enhance the policy changes you’d like to make.

If it’s a new job you’re going for, then make sure to have some company specific questions ready to show that you have done your homework for the new position.

7. Marketing Skills

While marketing a companies products or services has always been a highly sought after skill. In today’s world, it can take on several different forms.

Some of the marketing skills that are highly sought after today include, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing and marketing campaign management. Familiarity with Google Analytics as well as Word Press are also valuable.

While traditional marketing and branding were focused on advertising and selling. Almost all marketing efforts now a days are focused on the internet.

8. Network Security Specialist

Again, this is a highly skilled position that requires specialized training. But the amount of data that all companies store is significant, and if that data is leaked or stolen, it can costs them millions of dollars in both lost revenue and lawsuits.

So, if you have an interest in network security you will find the field both lucrative and stable.

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9. Communication Skills

At first glance, communication skills may not look like it fits into the category of “Hard Skills” that can help you succeed. But in this ever shrinking world where companies can do business from almost anywhere, communication is more and more important.

Are you bilingual? It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s a company out there looking for someone who speaks that language.

10. Computer Programming

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that computers are going to be around for a while! As both the hardware and software get more advanced, the need for computer programming is only going to increase.

11. Graphic Design

As of 2018, there were 4.37 million new websites launched.[2] A good number of them will fail because they just aren’t interesting enough visually. The use of templates and replicated websites is only making the problem worse.

Part of the way Google ranks sites is through originality, this almost ensures that replicated sites will never get ranked through Google. So the more original your site is, the more likely people will visit and actually spend time there.

That is what a good graphic designer does. Takes your basic idea and turns it into a website that people actually want to visit.

Embrace the Anxiety That Comes with Change

You know it’s going to be there, you know that you’ll want to give up as you’re learning these new skills but, you’ll also know that the end result is worth the journey.

Here’s a little trick when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Have you ever met an ex-smoker who was sorry they quit? An ex-drinker or drug user that said life was much better before they quit? These people have gone through some of the most difficult challenges humans can go through including weeks, if not, months of intense physical withdrawal symptoms. They did it because they knew that the pain and anxiety they would experience would ultimately get them to a much better life.

Now what was that complaint you had about attending night-school?

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This is the part everyone hates, everyone thinks night-school, adult education and just generally giving up family and/or spare time. While those are certainly possible ways to develop the necessary skills, they aren’t the only way.

You’ll want to check with your human resources department because depending on the company, a certain degree maybe required in order to even be considered for a position. In those cases, night-school, on-line or some other form of adult education maybe your best route.

But as long as a degree isn’t required, then your options are wide open.

Let’s just say that you’re a sales person interested in becoming the sales manager but, the territory you’ve been given will never produce the sales figures that would make you stand out as a good candidate for sales manager. So how about you start your own side business (don’t compete with your company), but let’s say you enjoy golf.

In this day and age, there are plenty of places that will teach you how to sell products on-line and even set you up with your own website. So you start a site selling golf equipment and accessories (don’t worry, you won’t even have to carry inventory or worry about shipping).

Now, when that sales manager spot opens up, you can explain that even though other salespeople had better numbers than you, it had nothing to do with your sales ability, it was more of a consequence of the territory your were given.

And to prove it, you brought in some information about a side business, you started showing that you’re on target for a sales growth rate of 30% this year. And because you had to do all of the marketing for the business, you came up with some marketing strategies that you can bring to the new job (built-in experience).

The Bottom Line

We’ve put together these 11 hard skills as a way to give yourself a “leg up” on the competition. We’ve tried to make this a mixture of both skills that require a great deal of training, and also ones that you can work on and develop by yourself.

We know that not everyone is cut out to be a cloud computing expert, but we also know that working on and having good scheduling skills will make you a much more desirable candidate for the position!

We also don’t want you to discount the idea of a “side hustle“. Especially for people new to the workforce, having a business that you have started and run successfully shows potential employers that you have initiative, scheduling skills and ambition which can put you well ahead of your competition!

As usual, we hope you found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your family and friends through social media. It really does help us and is greatly appreciated!

More Skill to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing
[2] Netcraft: December 2018 Web Server Survey

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