‘It is better to waste money, than it is to waste time. You can always get more money.’- Hal Sparks.
Running to the bank or supermarket to do various errands seems to be quite popular with people who waste time at work. A whopping 35 percent say that they like surfing on the Internet. When they actually want to do something for themselves, about 17 percent say that they book trips or plan dinner menus. Not to mention gossiping, sending personal texts and trying to understand office politics!
If you are a team leader or boss, you should consider that there may be other factors lurking behind all that time wasting. You cannot blame Internet and social media for everything. Most workers when asked why they wasted time gave some pretty damning answers:
- Procedures for tasks are unclear.
- Not enough incentives to work smarter or even harder.
- Unhappy with job generally.
- Certain tasks were not challenging enough which led to boredom.
- Poor management or leadership
Let us look more closely at the top seven ways of wasting time and how to stop it.
1. Limit and shorten meetings
Several companies now have meetings for 10 minutes and they do it standing up. It depends on the teams and projects but this can work well in many cases. People swap information on what they are doing, what needs to be done, obstacles and deadlines. It is a great way of keeping people in the loop and is quick.
2. Encourage routine and batching
Far too often, you jump from one thing to another and multi tasking is a curse rather than a blessing. There are usually underlying causes. For example:
- Not enough attention to prioritizing.
- Failure to establish a routine for getting some tasks done.
- Inability to batch similar type tasks.
These can be used as a basis for developing skills sets for staff training. It can really improve productivity.
3. Take action to discourage private calls and surfing
If you are a manager, you may decide that certain social sites like Facebook will be blocked on employees’ computers. You can opt for a softer approach by encouraging everybody, including yourself, to use Chrome Nanny. This is an add on and will block certain sites you are addicted to at certain times, when you should be working! You can make it as severe or as lenient as you see fit.
You can also ban private calls, except for family or personal emergencies.
4. Make time work for you, not against you
There is a very interesting article in the New York Times by Tim Kreider called ‘The Busy Trap’. The obsession with being busy is often a cover to hide inefficiency, emptiness, poor time management and a host of other problems. Being busy reassures us that we are getting on with it. But what we need is to make time to be creative and take breaks, go on vacation and also delegate more often.
“The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play.”- Arthur C. Clarke
5. It’s not your job
How many times have you wasted time on whether you should be doing a particular task or not? The waste of time is incredible. There is a very easy solution. You must do everything on your list or delegate some of the tasks.
6. Reduce those interruptions
One expert, Kathleen Alessandro has done a study on how many times people are interrupted each day at work. She found that an intrusion (coworker stopping by, phone calls, texts, etc) happens every 7 minutes. Each one tends to last for about 5 minutes. Do the math- that is about 68 disruptions in each working day and that adds up to 5/6 hours! This may seem to be an exaggeration but the message is clear. You really have to reduce the number of interruptions by:
- Use barricade tape to protect your cubicle.
- Log interruptions so that you can identify the main culprits.
- Use email to warn co-workers that you are unavailable because of an urgent deadline.
- Refuse to attend an unnecessary meeting, using the same reason as above.
7. Control your email addiction
There are very few emails which will demand an immediate response. This lets you off the hook. Stop checking them every ten minutes or so. This is worst time waster of all. Set a fixed time every day when you will read and reply to all your emails together. You will be amazed at how much time you can save.
“We cannot waste time. We can only waste ourselves.”- George Matthew Adams
Let us know how you deal with the problem of wasting time at work in the comments below.
Featured photo credit: Time/Celestine Chua via flickr.com