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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 For example, if you are using an outdated point of sale machine, your employees may end up being forced to waste time on getting everything to run properly.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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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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