Naturally, an employee should be efficient and productive. However, how can you achieve this when a new season of The Crown was just released on Netflix? Assignments keep piling up, but you still need to deal with mounds of emails. All the while, you get distracted by social media notifications.
According to a survey conducted by Salary.com, 89% of employees admit to wasting time at work. 30% of those workers said that they waste roughly an hour daily. That is roughly 252 hours or 35 workdays in a year!
It’s critical for an employee to learn how to eliminate as many distractions as possible. By mastering the skill of focusing, they can experience a profound improvement in their output, productivity, and mental well-being.
Without further ado, here are some of the biggest time-wasters at work and how you can overcome them:
1. Checking Emails When It’s Not Necessary
It is not surprising to know that emails are among the biggest time-wasters in the workplace. A worldwide study featured on Statista revealed that 306.4 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2020. An employee checks their inbox an average of 36 times an hour. Most workers are guilty of this, especially those who are members of geographically scattered teams.
It’s completely understandable to feel a sense of urgency when you know that something important is lurking in your inbox. However, even when we receive coupons or newsletters, we instinctively click links and find ourselves browsing websites that aren’t related to work. In this case, it is ideal to install filters on email clients. The IT department of a company can do this for the business email accounts.
Now, if you want to manage your productivity on your own, you can try limiting the time you spend checking your emails. For instance, you can set aside about 30 minutes of your workday to read and respond to messages. You can also limit yourself to reviewing your inbox three times a day. To make monitoring easier for you, we recommend that you use a time tracker like Traqq. This tool will monitor the time you spend on your emails. By checking its dashboard, you will know whether you are about to exceed your time limit.
2. Useless Meetings
According to a study conducted by Atlassian, $37 billion worth of wages is wasted on unnecessary meetings in the U.S. Even executives have admitted that some meetings could have been executed through quick emails. So, if you think that a significant chunk of your day goes down the drain because of useless or unimportant meetings, you must do something about it.
You can conduct a calendar audit to determine which meetings are indispensable and which ones can be killed. When done correctly, this review will help you and your colleagues use your time efficiently. You can condense regular meetings into a single event that is more focused and organized. Send materials in advance, set clear expectations, and keep meetings under 30 minutes. This way, you can ensure that these gatherings are as productive as possible.
3. Doing All Things at Once
People often mistake multitasking for productivity. They think that they are achieving more by doing more than a single task at a time. In reality, they are doing the opposite. Studies found that only 2.5 percent of people can be considered as ‘supertaskers’. Meanwhile, the rest of the population performs not so well when trying to accomplish several tasks at once.
You don’t need to search for scientific evidence just to determine that multitasking can be a daily time-waster. In a way, juggling several tasks is like texting while driving—only a bit less dangerous. So, instead of trying to get multiple things done at once, design a schedule that will help you promote single-tasking. Perhaps, you can try time blocking or organizing your tasks via a project management app.
4. Trying to Perfect Everything
Sometimes, people are not aware that the standards they set are unrealistically high. When this happens, they spend more time than they should on their tasks. Even when they’ve fulfilled their requirements, they keep making revisions, trying to achieve perfection. While there is nothing wrong with aiming for excellence, you must be careful not to obsess over it. If things don’t go your way, it will only lead to frustration. In some cases, you may even procrastinate because you want to get things done perfectly the first time.
Remember that perfection is an unreachable goal that kills your productivity and harms your health. It is not easy to overcome this mentality. However, you can begin by focusing on finishing your tasks within a timeframe and to the best of your abilities. For instance, work on accomplishing your major goals. Then, you can go back later to make things ‘perfect’. Moreover, you need to have a growth mindset instead of labeling yourself a failure if things do not go the way you want them to. Learn to let go of anxiety and accept that you’re right where you’re supposed to be.
5. Lack of Motivation
While you might be pretty good at powering through your daily tasks, there are times where you may find it challenging to focus on your duties or lack the motivation to start working. When such things happen, you might procrastinate, which only leads to more stress. Even if you lack the inspiration to move mountains, it is better to force yourself to get on with your task. Writers are a case in point here. Instead of pulling their hair out over a blank page, they work on the first draft and worry about cleaning up the text later.
Are you struggling to get your engine running? Well, in this case, we recommend that you condition yourself to work on a particular task for only five minutes. Most of the time, that gives a person enough motivation. However, once you’ve started, you may get frustrated when you assess your progress. Of course, this can quickly drain your motivation. So, what’s important is you celebrate wins no matter how small they are.
6. Unorganized To-Do Lists
Whether you list your tasks in a notebook or use a project management tool like Trello, organizing activities can be a real life-saver. Your to-do list can be handy when you are in a meeting or even when you are doing simple tasks like grocery shopping. However, as useful as a to-do list can be, it can be detrimental to your productivity if it is bloated and unorganized. So, you need to configure it for optimum efficiency.
To prevent your to-do list from overwhelming you, keep it short and highlight the most important tasks you need to accomplish. Also, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Naturally, we want to impress others and avoid disappointing them. However, it is not possible to please everyone. Instead of saying “yes” to every project or task thrown at you, learn to say “no” when things get overwhelming. Make sure you have a to-do list that you know you can handle efficiently.
7. Cluttering Your Workplace
You may try to justify having an ‘organized mess’ on your desk by saying that cleaning will waste your time. In reality, you’re killing your productivity if your workspace is messy. Princeton University professor Sabine Kastner said that the physical clutter around you will compete for your attention. Consequently, with so much mess in your surroundings, you may experience stress and a decrease in your performance.
One of the best ways to improve your productivity is by removing the distracting clutter from your workspace. Set daily, weekly, or monthly reminders to organize your desk items and get rid of things that you don’t need. You can also clean out digital clutter like unnecessary files on your desktop and inactive browser tabs.
Also, just because you’re trying to be a minimalist, it doesn’t mean that your work area should be barren. You can still decorate your desk with office plants that can boost productivity.
8. Unhealthy Eating Habits
Not many people consider food as one of the biggest time-wasters in the workplace. However, when your energy and focus drop, it can get difficult for you to get things done. What you consume determines whether you will power through your tasks or drown in them. There are plenty of tips out there for nutrition, and you need to find the meal plans that will work best for you. However, one thing is for sure: staying hydrated and avoiding drinks with a high concentration of sugar will give you balanced energy throughout the day.
9. Browsing Online
Smartphones can be major time-wasters if you do not practice moderation. The same goes for social media networks and news websites. What’s dangerous about these types of distractions is they are sources of never-ending content. You can keep scrolling and scrolling and you will still find something fresh and interesting.
It’s not enough to use your willpower when you’re trying to get rid of online time-wasters. Again, we recommend that you use Traqq to curb the distracting sites at work. This tool has a dashboard that shows you all the apps you use and the websites you visit. You can also learn about the time you spend on every activity you do while your tracker is switched on. This way, you will know when you are going overboard and wasting your time on sites that aren’t related to work.
Taking Actions to Control Time-Wasters
It’s only natural for humans to get distracted. However, you’re doing a disservice to yourself when you let yourself get controlled by activities and items that waste your time. Hopefully, our list helped you learn how to eliminate things that do not add value to your work and life.