We’ve all been there… Sitting at our desks, staring at our computer screens, trying to get some work done but finding ourselves distracted by endless time wasters. Whether it’s checking social media, reading random articles, or just staring blankly into space, there are countless ways to waste time at work.
So, to help you avoid these pitfalls and get more done in less time, we’ve put together a list of some of the biggest time wasters at work, along with some helpful tips to overcome them.
But first, let’s talk about time wasters in general and their role in a work setting.
What are time wasters at work?
The definition of “time wasters,” according to the dictionary, refers to people or things that consume an unnecessary amount of time or provide no benefit.
Regardless of whether you work as a freelancer, in a team, or as a manager, it’s inevitable to waste time occasionally.
Despite wanting to maintain maximum productivity, numerous distractions can divert our attention away from important tasks.
For example, small talk with coworkers, browsing social media, surfing the internet, and losing focus all contribute to wasting several minutes each day.
Studies reveal that spending excessive time in meetings hinders more than 50% of employees from being productive at work. Additionally, multitasking during meetings is common. These time wasters can lead to a loss of focus, motivation, and productivity.
Therefore, it’s crucial to recognize them and eliminate them from your schedule. To assist with this, we’ve compiled a list of 10 common time-wasters at work and provided tips on how to avoid them.
10 Time wasters at work and how to avoid them with a quick fix
Let’s face it, we all need a little distraction in our workday, right? But here’s the thing—those sneaky time wasters can really do a number on our productivity.
However, by taking some simple steps, we can kick those distractions to the curb and get things done, together (pun intended for Chanty’s tagline).
So when you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of emails and social media notifications, take a deep breath and remember that you’re in control. Don’t let those distractions drag you down! Instead, make a few tweaks and get back on track. After all, ain’t nobody got time for that.
But what we do have time for is to walk you through a series of dangerous time wasters and some quick fixes for them. Read on…
1. Limit social media or other distracting websites
Let’s face it, social media is a black hole for productivity. One minute you’re checking your notifications, and the next thing you know, you’re knee-deep in a Twitter argument about pineapple on pizza.
The solution: Set limits for yourself. Use browser extensions or apps to block distracting websites during work hours. And if you really need a social media fix, schedule designated breaks throughout the day to check your accounts.
2. Don’t keep going back to your emails
Email can be a great communication tool, but it can also be a massive time-suck. Constantly checking your inbox, responding to every message, and sorting through spam can easily eat up hours of your day.
The solution: Set specific times to check your email throughout the day, and stick to them. Use filters and labels to automatically sort your messages, and unsubscribe from any unnecessary mailing lists.
3. Unnecessary meetings are biggest time wasters
Meetings are notorious for being unproductive and time-consuming. Between scheduling conflicts, long-winded discussions, and off-topic tangents, it can feel like you’re stuck in a never-ending cycle of pointless conversations.
The solution: Be selective about the meetings you attend. Make sure there is a clear agenda and objective for the meeting, and decline any invitations that don’t align with your goals or responsibilities. And if you do attend a meeting, come prepared with a clear understanding of what you hope to accomplish.
4. Stay focused and don’t stress over multitasking
Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is not a productivity hack. In fact, trying to juggle multiple tasks at once can actually decrease your overall efficiency and make it harder to focus. As a result, it may even lead to toxic productivity.
The solution: Focus on one task at a time. Prioritize your to-do list and work on the most important tasks first, giving each one your undivided attention until it’s complete.
5. Chatty coworkers
We all have that one coworker who loves to chat. While it’s important to build relationships and socialize with your colleagues, too much small talk can quickly turn into a time waster.
The solution: Set boundaries with your chatty coworkers. Politely let them know when you’re busy or need to focus and suggest catching up during lunch or after work hours.
Procrastination is the ultimate time waster. Whether it’s putting off a difficult task or simply avoiding work altogether, procrastination can derail your productivity and leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
The solution: Break large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. Set deadlines for yourself and hold yourself accountable. And if you’re struggling to get started, try the “five-minute rule”: commit to working on a task for just five minutes, and see where it takes you.
While it’s important to take pride in your work and strive for excellence, perfectionism can quickly turn into a time waster. Spending too much time obsessing over small details or trying to make everything “perfect” can prevent you from making progress and moving forward.
The solution: Recognize when your perfectionism is getting in the way of your productivity. Set realistic goals and timelines for your projects, and focus on making incremental progress rather than obsessing over every small detail.
8. Avoid keeping things disorganized
Have you ever found yourself in a frantic search for a crucial document or file right before a meeting or while trying to send it to a colleague?
Trust me, we’ve been there too. Let’s face it, disorganization is a major time sucker. And it’s not just a waste of time; it’s also a guaranteed way to increase your stress levels and drive you up the wall. But fear not, my fellow disorganized comrades! The solution is right below.
The solution: You can avoid this chaos by getting your act together and creating a spesific system and start using organizational tools that work for you and those around you. Tidy up your workspace, make a schedule or a checklist, and you’ll be able to find what you need in a snap. Don’t be a victim of the disorganization monster; take control of your life and make it easier!
9. Avoid leaving difficult tasks for the end
Let’s face it, we all have that one task that we’d rather avoid than confront. It’s like the elephant in the room, but instead, it’s an elephant-sized task looming over us.
But guess what?
Ignoring it won’t make it magically disappear! So why not tackle it head-on? And if you’re feeling especially brave, why not eat that frog for breakfast and get it over with? Trust us, your future self will thank you (and your present self might even get a kick out of it).
The solution: Acknowledge that avoiding the task won’t make it go away, and it’s only going to cause more stress in the long run. Try breaking down the task into smaller, more manageable steps so that it doesn’t seem as daunting. You can also set a specific time and date to tackle the task and stick to it. And lastly, reward yourself once the task is completed, whether it’s with a treat or a celebratory dance (or both!).
10. Learn to say “NO”
Listen up, all you eager beavers out there! We know you want to impress your boss and colleagues by taking on every task that comes your way, but slow your roll, my friend.
You need to know when to say “no” and put those overachiever tendencies in check. Because, let’s face it, taking on too much will only lead to you becoming a hot mess express, and nobody wants that.
Your work will suffer, and your company will suffer even more. So if you’re feeling the weight of your workload crushing you, don’t be afraid to talk to your boss about it. They might be able to lend a hand or lighten the load.
Remember, it’s okay to say “no” sometimes; just make sure you’ve got a solid reason to back it up. Your sanity (and your coworkers’ sanity) will thank you.
The solution: Be clear and concise when declining a task, but also be polite and respectful in your delivery. Provide a solid reason for why you’re saying no, whether it’s due to workload or other commitments. You can also offer an alternative solution or suggest someone else who may be better suited for the task. And lastly, stand your ground and don’t feel guilty for prioritizing your own well-being and workload. Remember, saying “no” is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of self-awareness and time management. You’ve got this!
Bottom line: getting rid of time wasters
When we find ourselves taking longer than expected to complete tasks and processes, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.
There’s likely a pesky time-waster lurking around, causing delays and headaches. But don’t worry; following these quick fixes above, you can easily avoid some typical time wasters at work.
Let’s prioritize productivity, efficiency, and employee well-being, and say goodbye to those pesky time wasters!