Raise your hand if you waste time during your workday. Okay, everyone should have their hand raised right about now. If you do not have your hand raised, you are either a robot or do not understand what wasting time is.
For some reason when I think about wasting time at work, it always leads back to the below clip from Peter Gibbons in the movie Office Space. When meeting with “The Bobs” about how much work he had been missing, Peter stated, ‘I wouldn’t say I’ve been missing it, Bob.”
Though missing work and wasting time at work are two different things, they both end in the same result—not accomplishing the tasks you need to. So, how much time does the average person waste at work instead of doing these tasks? According to Scoro, a data management software company, “Most people actually use 60% or less of available work time. This means we’re productive only 3 days out of 5 every week.”
Let that sink in for a second, though you are physically at work, you spend close to two days a week in the office not working. Each minute spent wasting time at work adds up, and if you really think about it, you can locate the biggest time-wasters you are performing every day.
Thanks to the good people at Scoro, they identified the three biggest time-wasters according to their survey—which is going to be the focus of our weekly “Three for Thursday.” Since the team here at NexGoal is all about providing solutions to the potential problems, we will take a look at the top three time-wasters and give you suggestions on how to become more productive in the office.
I know what many of you are thinking right about now, “I have to check my email for my job.” While this is true, you do not have to check it every single time a new one hits your inbox. The fine people at Scoro actually suggested in their infographic that you only check email three times per day—and there is a major reason why (aside from wasting time).
If you stop performing a task to respond to emails that just came in, the average person spends 16 minutes to refocus on the task they were working on. This means that it could potentially take you 16 minutes every time you stop, so if you are stopping 10 times per day to check and respond to email—that is 160 minutes, or just under three hours a day you spend trying to refocus on the work you were completing.
Now, not all of us have jobs we can just ignore emails and only check three times a day. If you are in that situation, I would suggest blocking off time on your calendar to work on high priority tasks. Those that you work and share a calendar with will clearly see you have that time blocked off, to make it easier you should close down your email client and focus on getting those tasks done.
Another prime function of the workplace is going to meetings, and it happens to be the second biggest time-waster in a person’s workday. Think about it. If you have a 9:30 a.m. meeting and start work at 9:00 a.m., you are not going to start on any major tasks for the day because you do not want stop in the middle of doing it. Say that meeting is an hour, now you are already at 10:30 a.m. of your workday and if the same rule applies (16 minutes to refocus), now it is 10:46 a.m. before you really start working.
I do not think we need to continue breaking down your day, you get the point—for every meeting you have, employees can lose major production time. Now, meetings are a major part of a job for most companies—but I would challenge those setting the meetings to ask themselves two questions before sending that meeting request.
The first question is, “Do I really need all of these people in the meeting?” The second question is, “Is a meeting the most productive way to convey whatever message/discuss whatever the meeting is about?”
When it comes to the first question, companies have a tendency to want to involve every department and every employee in that meeting. I cannot tell you how many meetings I have personally been paid to sit through where it had absolutely nothing to do with my job function. At the end, employees emerged annoyed they wasted time in that meeting, and did not have a better understanding of whatever the meeting was about. In fact, many stated an email would have sufficed, which is directly related to question number two.
My suggestion? Less is more when it comes to meetings. If you control that aspect of your business and are holding meetings every single day, maybe you need to ask yourself those two questions above.
Let’s take another quick survey. When was the last time you checked Facebook or Twitter that was for a non-work related function? Don’t be ashamed of your answer, we are all guilty of it—the 24/7 news cycle that is social media has corrupted all of our lives.
While writing this article, I stopped to check Facebook and Twitter twice each. Not because of a need to know what was going on out there, but because it has become a natural habit while completing tasks. Now, a big part of my job is posting on social media and knowing what is going on in the wonderful world of hiring and recruiting, so I have an excuse sometimes. But it does not change the fact that browsing these sites comes in third place on the list and is causing employees to waste an hour a day.
How can you break this oh so vicious need to be “on the line” (see Internship reference below) so much while you are working?
Turn back the clocks to elementary school, and give yourself a reward system. Set a goal of tasks you need to complete before you can do a little web browsing. Complete an hour’s worth of tasks? You get five minutes to browse online. If you are currently wasting an hour or more a day browsing the internet, doing this means you would need to complete six hours of work tasks per day to “waste” 30 minutes browsing the internet. With this system, you would get 30 minutes of time-wasting back per day, and likely get more work done in this process.