Do you find you’re not as efficient at work as you should be? If you wonder where the time goes, and you’re baffled by why you didn’t accomplish more, you may be falling victim to some of the most common work and office time wasters. These time wasters can eat up your valuable time and keep you from getting the most important things done in a timely manner. After all, productivity is important whether you work for yourself or for someone else. Here are five of the most common ways people waste time at work and what you can do to correct them.
Not Prioritizing Tasks
Some people spend lots of time working but have little to show for it at the end of the day. That’s because they devote their time to doing low-priority tasks rather than focusing on the ones that really count. Rather than making a generic to-do list, write down everything you need to accomplish the next day and assign each a letter – A, B or C – based on its importance. Focus on the “A” tasks first rather than jumping from task to task, and don’t switch to lower priority ones until you’ve completed the ones at the top of your list.
Not Grouping Similar Tasks
How efficient would it be to make a trip to the grocery store, drive home and go back to the cleaners an hour later? Not only would you waste gas but time as well. The same applies to work. You’ll accomplish more if you group similar tasks together. For example, don’t return phone calls or check your email three or four times a day. Do those tasks during one time slot at the end of the day so they won’t be a distraction. This will leave you more uninterrupted time to focus on tasks that matter.
Drowning in a Sea of Clutter
Clutter is the enemy of productivity. It’s a challenge to focus and concentrate when you’re spending time shuffling through papers and wading through extraneous “stuff” you’ve been storing on your desk for months. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen the wood on your desk, go in early and do some re-organizing. Before starting, make a list of what is essential to do your job, and take the rest home so you won’t be distracted by it. De-cluttering your desk will also de-clutter your mind and free it up so you can focus and get more done.
Being Too “Social”
Sure, you want to be friendly with the people you work with, but don’t turn work time into social time. Most people aren’t aware of how much time they spend socializing at work. Talking too much to colleagues and making small talk on the phone can eat up a lot of time if you let it. Start by becoming aware of how much time you’re spending socializing by keeping a log. If you’re like most people, you’re probably “chit-chatting” more at work than you thought. According to one study, an intrusion occurs at work every seven minutes on average. That can take a bite out of your productivity. Focus on work during work time and save small talk for the lunch room. You’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll accomplish.
Mixing Home with Work
Is your work email cluttered with subscriptions to email lists that aren’t related to your job? Keep your email and work computer strictly for work. Don’t use it to subscribe to a newsletter about your hobby or the latest entertainment news. Save that for your home computer – and make sure you have a spam filter on your work computer.
The Bottom Line?
Don’t let these common time wasters steal your productivity. Eliminate them, and you’ll be surprised at how much more productive you’ll be.
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