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Top 7 Ways People Waste Time At Work And Get Away With It

Top 7 Ways People Waste Time At Work And Get Away With It

‘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:

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  • 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:

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  • 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.

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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.

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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

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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