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Seven Things That Keep Us From Getting Home on Time

Seven Things That Keep Us From Getting Home on Time
Water Cooler

Time wasters are often things that we enjoy. They often are the seed of great frustration as well. The frustration manifests at the end of the day when we think, “What did I do today?” or “Why didn’t those things get done?” or “I guess I’ll be here until 8pm so that I’m not late with that project.”
Recognizing some of our time wasters as we get into them is a great thing to do because maybe we’ll limit that habit of wasting time. And, limiting our wasting time hopefully means that we’ll be getting our things done and getting on to things and people we enjoy.

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  1. Procrastination in making decision is one of the unrecognized time wasters. It is under the radar because we are sitting at the desk immersed in data, thinking, and collecting more background. We have conversations with people more expert or closer to the situation than we. We appear busy because we are BUT it’s time to make a decision already. There is a time when we have to pound a stake in the ground by making the best decision we can given the information that we have. Be done with it. And, move on. It is likely that whatever the decision is, you can refine it later as things are tested, more information is gathered, and time passes.
  2. Surfing the net, also known as ‘research’, is a time waster that is noted for being the #1 time waster – even at work. This was recognized at polls done this year, 2007, by Microsoft and Salary.com. (see a summary article at Reuters). It is easy to follow a series of interesting articles on and on and on until you are completely off the topic that you started reading about. Yeesh that can take a lot of time.
  3. Meetings that are disorganized and unplanned are commonly pointed at with remarks like, “That was the biggest waste of time.” Meetings without agendas are offenders. Meetings that are political over productive can be demoralizing and demotivating. Even big meetings with attendees flown in from across the nation are considered a waste of time when the information isn’t relevant and meaningful to the attendees.
  4. People not meeting their commitments is a time waster. When a group of people is working on a project often completion of one set of tasks precludes the start of the next set of tasks. If the first set isn’t complete the work cannot move forward and those waiting for results to be handed off are wasting their time in the waiting game.
  5. Chit chat at the water cooler and instant messaging are often time wasters. Sure, recounting the great soccer game from the past weekend can be entertaining and enjoyable. Instant messaging with a few people is definitely distracting and can interrupt your flow of getting work completed. Chatting can be motivating and promote inclusion. Chatting can take you so far off track that an hour passes without productive results.
  6. Playing solitaire or other games on your computer. I am a testament to losing track of time while playing games on a computer. I could not tally the hours I spent playing backgammon online one year – but it was a lot of hours. So, I quit. Haven’t played it for a few years.
  7. Perusing catalogs can be an immense time sink especially at this pre-Christmas time of year. In my classes I assign ‘record the time you spend viewing a new catalog’. The results average to approximately 12 minutes per catalog. 5 catalogs totals an hour of lost time.

What’s your favorite time waster? Tell us in your comments to this post.

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Susan Sabo is the writer at Productivity Cafe – a favorite place to stop and spend some time.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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