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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 November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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