Are You Wasting Time at Work?

small business tipsThe challenges of our work lives can be both daunting and positively detrimental to our productivity. From unaccommodating offices to chatty co-workers to not having the technologies we need, our office lives can fall well short of their potential and keep us fighting uphill battles every day.

One thing that many professionals feel challenged by each work day is how easy it is to waste time. From our computers to our co-workers to the recesses of the internet, there are plenty of opportunities to get distracted and wheedle away hours of our workday. If you find yourself challenged by the tendency to waste time, take a look at our list of ways to get back those hours of your workday.

Limit Your Socialization

Socializing is among the biggest time wasting black holes in the office. Having sociable co-workers is a wonderful morale booster, especially in an office environment that is otherwise tense. But feeling the need to socialize too often can put a dent in your time before you even realize it.

Curb your socialization by setting a schedule for when you can and cannot chat with co-workers. Wear headphones to block hearing unwanted chatter around you if you must, but always be cognizant of the time you’ve spent chatting and not working. Collaboration over work matters is obviously another story, but the type of bottomless chatting that many of us get into at work can be bad for our time management and should be controlled.

Silence Your Phone

You might not realize it, but the continual alerts we often get on our phones throughout the day can be seriously detrimental to our time management. You check one text message or Facebook notification and before you know it, you’ve been nose deep in social media or a texting conversation for far longer than you intended.

By silencing your phone, you remove the possibility of constant distractions from your phone alerting you every time you get a text or notification. Set aside times to check your phone, like your breaks or lulls in your daily tasks. Even then, make certain that you don’t get too involved in the interactions you’re receiving; doing so can lead you right back in to a series of time wasting activities.

Stop Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking has long been thought of as the key to productivity throughout the workday. Unfortunately, recent research has proven that multi-tasking actually puts a divot in productivity and may even lead you to waste even more time than you would have not multi-tasking.

Because multi-tasking divides your attentions so finely, the chances that you’re actually getting more done are slim, especially considering what a small portion of the population can actually multi-task successfully. Focus on one task at a time, and move on to another when the first one is completed.

Control the Time Spent with Email

Email is another one of those at-work black holes that can snag a much larger fraction of your workday than it should. We know that it’s important that you answer emails and keep in contacts with clients and potential clients who need your attention. But the tasks of your workday must always take precedence over answering emails. The easiest way to ensure that you aren’t spending too much time in your email inbox is to set time limits, or better yet, an actual schedule for what times of the day you check email and for how long you do so.

Of course there will certain emails that are vital and demand large chunks of your time; determining for yourself the best email-checking schedule is important to reducing the amount of time you waste checking emails that aren’t vital to your work productivity.

Have a Plan

Walking into work each day, knowing that distractions and time wasting are weak points for your productivity, it’s important that you have a plan for how you’ll get more done. Know what tasks are absolutely important and which can be left for the end of the day. Schedule the amount of time you’d like to spend on each task and don’t deter from your plan. When you have a schedule in front of you and self-created deadlines, it will be easier for you to stay on track and fight the time-wasters that take a bite out of your productivity.

Time wasting at work can be a morale-killer and a real challenge to productivity and happiness at the office. But with a few useful tips in mind, you can figure out how to maximize your time at work and keep the moments of wasted time to a minimum.

photo credit: Sebastiano Pitruzzello (aka gorillaradio) via photopin cc