Productivity is a hotly debated topic in the workplace, and more often than not, the conversation revolves around what you need to spend more time doing. However, there are numerous time wasters that you’ll come across during your day that you need to eliminate, or at least reduce, to gain absolute control over your time.
According to the New York Times, the average office worker being interrupted every 11 minutes. This statistic shows that modern technology has become as much of a hindrance to our productivity as it is a boon. To gain control over your schedule and improve your productivity, you need to learn what the most common distractions are in the workplace, and what you can do to avoid those time wasters.
Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.
Using Your Smartphone
According to a recent study, adults spend up to four hours on their phones each day. While some industries require that you use a smartphone while you’re working, it can be a major source of wasted time at work.
To solve this problem, you could set a designated time to check your phone and respond to any notifications. You could also install an app like Forest that requires you to keep it open, stopping you from accessing other apps.
Checking Your Emails
According to HBR, the average person spends 28% of their workday reading and responding to emails, making it a significant time drain if you’re not in a profession where all of your incoming emails are important.
If you’re finding that your emails are distracting you from your tasks, or incoming tasks are diverting your attention away from your priorities, then you should have set times for checking your emails throughout the day. You should also unsubscribe from emails that aren’t relevant to you to save time trying to find important information.
Almost every employee has sat in a meeting wondering whether the conversation could have occurred over the phone or in an email chain. With a recent survey from Booqed finding that the average employee wastes 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings, they can be a major time-waster for you, the meeting organizer, and any other attendees.
Project management software is a good solution for this, as it allows you to share notes with your team and quickly see where everyone is with their tasks. As a meeting organizer, you can save time by first asking if a meeting is necessary. If it is, then make sure you have a clear meeting agenda, a time limit on the meeting, and that all participants have the relevant materials at least half an hour before the meeting.
If you’re not motivated or aren’t interested in completing a task, it’s easy to procrastinate instead of working on the task at hand. It’s often difficult to focus on a task that you’re not invested in, which can only compound your stress and make it harder to hit deadlines.
To overcome procrastination, a good time management tip is to try to set a timer to work on a task for five minutes. You’ll often find that this is enough to get you motivated to finish the task, as starting something else when the five minutes are up will take more energy than completing the task.
If you’re managing a team, then you’re already familiar with having to multitask throughout your day. While you might think trying to complete more than one task at a time makes you more productive and good at time management, splitting your energy and focus between tasks can be detrimental in the long run.
Instead of trying to focus on everything at once, try scheduling your day using a productivity or time tracking app, and give yourself set blocks during the day to focus on a single task. You could also have set days during the week where you handle specific tasks in your job description if that works for you.
Not Asking For Help
As a manager, it’s normal to feel pressured to do everything yourself, even if you’ve not been trained to complete certain tasks or you’ve been asked to do something outside of your job description.
Not asking for help is a major time-waster in the workplace because, if you’re not sure how to complete a task, you’ll often be learning how to solve this problem as you move forward. This means you’ll be spending more time than you need on a task. To solve this problem, if you’re not sure how to complete a task, then you should ask someone to help you. Whether that’s teaching you how to complete it, helping you with resources, or you can even delegate that task to someone with more experience, this can save you time.
Having a Cluttered Desk
The adage of a cluttered desk being a sign of a cluttered mind is true, to a degree. When your desk is cluttered, you’ll likely find that the clutter takes your attention away from the task at hand. Not only that, but having too many things on your desk can make it difficult to find the materials you need.
To fix this, set time every week, two weeks, or month to clean your desk. You could also decorate your desk with personal items like photos, plants, or some trinkets to encourage you to maintain a clean desk.
Too Much Noise
Having a noisy office doesn’t only make it hard to focus, but it can also distract you away from your work if you hear an interesting conversation.
If it’s possible to work away from your coworkers, whether that’s at home or in a separate room, then that can help to eliminate distractions. You could also buy noise-canceling headphones and play the music that helps you focus so you don’t get distracted by what your coworkers are talking about.
Staying away from distractions and time wasters can be difficult in the modern workplace, or in your remote office space. Realizing where your time is going during the day is the first step in optimizing the time you do have, and better maximizing your productivity.
It’s always a good idea to use a time management app to help you manage the time you spend on those tasks, so that you don’t waste time where you don’t need it. Additionally, you can use a Task Management software, such as Profit.co’s task management module, to help you manage your duties.
Profit.co task management gives individuals and teams the power to create and organize tasks, specify due dates, priority, and attach documents, and even to create project or department-specific task boards to help you collaborate with team members. The task management module’s Workspaces are perfect for department- or team-wide collaboration, and the Boards within Workspaces help organize tasks, projects, and responsibility for better productivity and cohesion throughout the entire team. Additionally, you can associate your daily tasks with your important quarterly goals and OKRs so you always know how your work is affecting overall company priorities. This helps employees stay engaged with their important work, and helps managers identify important tasks.
Profit.co’s task management software gives you the capabilities of a sophisticated software, but maintains easy usability. All edits and additions to tasks are updated in real time, so your colleagues always have an up-to-the-minute account of what progress you have made, and where certain items stand. You can also leave comments and responses directly in your tasks, so that unnecessary communication via email or meetings can be quickly condensed, and nothing falls through the cracks!