5 Ideas to Reduce the Biggest Time Wasters
by Anne M. Bachrach
Have you ever thought to yourself: “If only I had more time?” You may even long for the
old days when you were young and didn’t have many or any responsibilities. You have
the whole world waiting for you. You can do anything you set your mind to—even the
things that that you think you don’t have time for!
How is this possible? By scheduling time for what’s important as well as what is fun. Of
course, along with this schedule, you have to take certain steps to eliminate time
wasters. What are time wasters? Time wasters can be anything, from an inanimate
object to a full living and breathing person. It is important that you first learn how to
identify a time waster and then learn how to stop this person, place, or thing from
distracting you. Let’s start by listing some of the most common time wasters.
1. There’s no question that computers and a high-speed Internet connection can
provide many valuable services to you. However, these tools are among the
worst time wasters in existence. Some companies have actually banned Internet
usage during working hours. If banning the Internet is not an option for you, then
at least make it a rule that you will not open any computer programs that are not
directly related to your work. If you catch your hand slowly approaching your
mouse with the intent to surf, catch yourself and get back to work. This fasting
from interactive entertainment also includes avoiding blogs, email, and instant
messaging services. What can you do about important emails? If you have a
problem with time-consuming emails then you might consider creating a separate
email account for all your professional contacts. That way, you won’t be
distracted by any forwarded messages or alerts from friends. Even better, ask
your friends to not include you in the personal emails they like to send to other
friends. You may even choose to only check email one or two times during the
day, and for a specific period of time – one time not being the first thing in the
morning when you arrive at work.
2. Interruptions from phones, team members, or pop-in visitors can be very
distracting. Human beings have a natural inclination to sit around and chat.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with this pastime, and there is no need to be
rude with your peers, associates, friends, and neighbors. However, you do need
to set some rules down and inform everyone who adores your company that
during certain working hours you are unavailable. This applies to team members
also. You create set meeting times when others can meet with you.
3. Unless you work on the phone, you may choose to unplug this device since
telephone conversations can easily take up a lot of time. Once again, explain to
family and friends that during working hours the phone is not an option. You also
might want to tell them that it’s only appropriate to call during a life and death
situation, since an “emergency” can be liberally interpreted.
4. The next time waster is to consider is not actually a tangible object, but a lack of
time management. When there is no time management or scheduling taking
place, then a person tends to be unfocused in his or her approach. A person
may not prioritize their tasks, or in the opposite case, try to take on too much
responsibility. Along with the threat of procrastination, a lack of time
management makes for a potentially devastating time waster. The use of a
calendar for time management will lead to more efficient and effective behaviors
that produce even better results and increases your overall success.
5. One of the most often reported problems with office employees is the lack of
education that newcomers are given. This takes up more time having to explain
procedures and demonstrate how to work various systems. You could apply this
lesson as well, whether you own your own company or work independently of
others. Try to learn new systems or new information on your own time, so that
by the time you start working you are not wasting any time reading over
instructions or surfing for help resources online. Creating procedures manuals
for all positions in the firm can have a huge impact on productivity and reduce
wasted time. Create a goal to create one or more procedures each week for
each position in your firm and put them into procedures manuals for each person
and their position.
Making the Most of Your Day
Other time wasters include stress, burn out, and sickness. Stress and burn out are
often times linked, so if you sense that the quality of your work is suffering because of
this, it may be “time” to take some time off. Sickliness is a tricky issue, because some
businesses prefer employees to come in sick, while others only want to pay workers
who perform at prime level. If you work at home then you also have to find a
compromise. You obviously wouldn’t disturb others if you work alone, but are you so ill
that the quality of your work is suffering? It may be wise to take a sick day and regroup
when you can mentally be at your best.
Keep in mind that the ore you incorporate health and fitness into your life, the more it
impacts and reduces stress, burnout, and sickness.
These are some of the most common time busters. If you sense that you are losing a
lot of time, take steps to eliminate the source of the distraction or distractions. This may
include sacrificing some items altogether or at least making it more difficult to access