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By James Parmis
There’s a quote by author Bernard Clive, that goes, “We don’t manage time, we manage activities within time.”
He hit the nail on the head with this quote. Very often, we see people talking about time management and the truth of the matter is that you can’t manage time for the sheer fact that it keeps passing no matter what you do.
The best way to get the most out of the time that you have is to be as productive as possible. By reducing unnecessary time wasters and focusing on actual work instead of merely being busy, you’ll not only get more work done, but you’ll find yourself with more free time too.
In this article, we’ll look at 10 time wasters that creep up on you without you even realizing it. Eliminate them and your life will become much simpler and more focused.
Make a plan and stick with it. If you’ve decided to complete a certain task, do not keep thinking if you should work on another task first. Finish what you decided to do.
By being decisive, not only will you save mental energy, but your work will be more focused, and you’ll get the job done faster.
2. Not Saying No
It’s very common to have colleagues try to dump their little jobs on you. The general reasoning is that it’s only a small, quick task and they’re really crunched for time. Since it’s easy and you’re so helpful, it shouldn’t be a problem.
If it happens occasionally, it isn’t an issue. But if you have a problem saying no, and people start taking advantage of your kindness, all the little tasks will add up and you’ll be bogged down.
Always complete your tasks first and assess if you have time to do the odd favor or two. If you can’t, always say no and tell your colleagues that you just don’t have the time.
3. Focusing on Easy Tasks
Another common mistake is to keep finishing off the smaller tasks because they’re easier. As a result, the bigger and more important ones are neglected and by the time you get to them, there’s barely enough time to give them the attention they need.
Always prioritize and finish the most important tasks before tackling the rest no matter how time consuming they may seem. Do first what you don’t want to do most. The rest of the less important work can be rushed later.
4. Lack of Concentration
When you’re working on one thing, keep that the main thing. Avoid multitasking or taking several short breaks to check your social media, etc. Concentrate for about 50 minutes and take a 5 or 10-minute break after that.
These short breaks will give your mind a brief rest and you can work for longer periods without getting exhausted.
Phone calls, text messages, colleagues dropping by your cubicle/office to make small talk, etc. are all interruptions. Minimize them and you’ll get more work done.
Once a job is done and you give it the once-over and it all seems fine, move on to the next task. Do not nitpick and try to keep improving the on current one while you aim for perfection. There is no such thing as perfection.
7. Reinventing the Wheel
If you’ve been doing a certain task one way for ages, don’t suddenly try to change it up. Do what works. Very often, in organizations and companies, countless meetings result in new changes to existing protocols every month or so.
While it’s done in the name of ‘improvement’ and ‘streamlining’, very often, more problems arise because people take time to get used to the new way of doing things. There’s a period of trial and error… and just when they’re getting into the swing of things, suddenly there’s a new way of doing things… and it’s back to square one.
So, plan your tasks wisely once and make sure your actions are effective. Once you get into the habit, do not keep changing your patterns or workflow.
8. Unnecessary Planning
Having one to-do list with a plan of action should suffice. All you need to do is work the plan. Do not have plans on your calendar, plans on your laptop, plans on your refrigerator, etc.
Over-planning leads to confusion and too many points of reference. One plan – work it. That’s all you need.
9. Constantly Answering Emails
Set aside blocks of time dedicated to specific tasks. Instead of clearing emails throughout the day as and when they come in, set an hour aside to clear all emails. After that, get back to the other tasks.
10. A Never-ending To-Do List
If you have a list of things to do, complete them first. If any new things come in, put them on a new list. Unless a task is extremely important, do NOT add it on your current list.
Clear one to-do list first before moving on to the next one. If you do a little from one list and a little from another, before you know it, you’ll have 5 lists with incomplete tasks on each one… or one list with so many things to do that just looking at it intimidates you.
Observe these 10 points and eliminate these time wasters from your work day. What gets measured, get managed. Always check your productivity and streamline things until you’re highly efficient.
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker