Productivity Time Wasters


In today’s business world we all face pressure. Pressure to be more productive, more responsive and do more with less time. Time wasters are factors that negatively impact your accomplishing of tasks. They can come from internal or external origins. Knowing how to recognize these negative factors will help you avoid them and stay on schedule. These days, no one can afford to waste time at work with mindless routines that curb your creativity. Choose a time to get certain task accomplished, such as answering email, working on a project, completing paper work; and then sticking to it every day.

Everyone likes to think they’re great at multi-tasking, but there’s a limit to how many things you can do at once without taking away from the quality of your work and, ultimately, slowing down the process. If you are shifting between five different projects at once, you are probably wasting your time. Despite the fact that smart people tend to take pride in their ability to multi-task, science has shown that it actually decreases intelligence and creativity.

Both people and technologies can be time-wasters, if we let them. It is very hard to focus because of the frequent interruptions from calls, emails and visitors. We have to apply critical thinking to decide if the person or activity is genuinely good and necessary for us. Are the conversations, emails, meetings and other communications that fill your work day as productive as they could be and have you ever been left shaking your head, wondering what was accomplished during an endless, long-winded meeting? 

Think back to your last workday, and consider for a minute the many interruptions that occurred. They may have been phone calls, e-mails, colleagues stopping by your office, or anything else that unexpectedly demanded your attention and, in doing so, distracted you from the task at-hand. If you feel out of control due to interruptions, it’s time to take the bull by the horns and become the master of interruptions. Once you learn how to handle interruptions at work, your efficiency will soar.


Productivity Time Wasters

  • E-mail – When it comes to getting sidetracked, e-mail is a major culprit. And although e-mail can be a huge time saver, it can also be a huge time-waster if we become its slave instead of its master. Like receiving phone calls, responding to emails the moment they arrive can help to decrease your time management if you allow your email to rule you. As with your phone, you might decide to only send and respond to emails at certain times. Responding to e-mails as they come in, without attention and focus is tough to let the creative parts of your brain really shine. Researchers have carried out a study and found that e-mails have gone from being a useful office tool to a curse that actually takes up huge amounts of work time.


  • Mobile Connections – Cell phones, pagers, and PDAs connect us anytime and anywhere. As a small business owner who wants to be in several places at once, these gadgets can be lifesavers. Communication overload has also become a part of people’s lives in the 21st century. Don’t let the desire to stay connected overrun your working life. Although, if we are to analyze our improved state of interaction, it turns out that not only we are dependent on current technology to the point of considering it as our basic need, but most of the times we misuse the very nature of its working and generate far more communication overload than required.


  • Internet – Like email, Internet usage can be a big time waster. Use common sense here. Wasting time using the Internet probably just means you have to end up staying late at work or bringing work home that you could otherwise do at home. Before you know it, you’ve got six tabs open in your browser. No need to ask where your afternoon went. Your browser history says it all. If you’re tempted to look something up, wait until you’ve at least finished what you’re working on. It’s just too easy to get sucked in when there’s endless information at your fingertips.


  • Social Media – The advent of social networking has seen a flurry of activity as people sign-in, locate and message friends and lost acquaintances, share images or video, and invite you to their interest group. The initial idea behind social networking sites was to provide meaningful interactions and reduce unwanted communications. In practice the opposite has happened leaving you with more “noise” collecting in your inbox.


  •  Meetings – Anyone who has worked in an office environment knows that meetings are inevitable. But if run poorly, they can be a colossal waste of time. Meetings should have a purpose; a set of tangible goals you want to accomplish. This should be realized by tackling a set agenda, which should be distributed to attendees before the meeting starts. Stay focused on the task at hand. By paying attention to the various dynamics, you’ll know that the meetings you organize are successful and that the participants will find them valuable as well.

  • Office Interruptions – The average manager receives six interruptions an hour. And following each interruption, it can take more than five minutes for them to get back into their task. One of the most frustrating things about trying to be productive at work is the occasional “pop-bye” colleague who drops in and stays beyond a reasonable amount of time. Do people waltz into your office unannounced? Do they “hang out” and talk about things that aren’t related to work? To ensure focused concentration, block out time when nobody is allowed to interrupt you. Close the office door. Put up a sign that says, “Focus time. Come back in an hour”.

“Time wasters” are bitterest enemies of business effectiveness. Learning to stay focused by minimizing interruptions at the job is an ongoing process. The most difficult aspect of this is that you are the only one monitoring yourself. Self-monitoring can be a very difficult process in itself. It requires a lot of discipline and lot of honesty.

It is very important for you to be able to identify things which waste time. If you cannot get these things under control, your productivity will fall, and you will fail to achieve your goals. If you can recapture a wasted hour here and there and redirect it to a more productive use, you can make great increases in your daily productivity and the quality of your life.

Jamie Wood, Avatel EVP


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