12 biggest workplace time wasters and how to avoid them - The UpStream

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12 biggest workplace time wasters and how to avoid them

posted Sunday Jan 28, 2024 by Noel Arcallana

Managing time efficiently can help you complete more tasks on a daily basis. While most businesses understand the importance of saving time and money, doing so is often challenging. Studies show that 31% of employees waste thirty minutes daily. The internet, social media, and petty talk can make losing concentration in the workplace easy. If you are struggling to improve your productivity levels, it's time to start implementing strategies to kill time wasters. This way, you can improve your focus, work efficiency, and goal accomplishment. Here are some common workplace time wasters and how to handle them.

1. Social media

Many professionals struggle to do away with social media in their work environment. Workers may log onto social networks through several devices, including smartphones and computers, which is not ideal. Businesses can avoid this problem by blocking these applications during designated hours. Also, interruptions like email notifications, calls, and text messages can waste time at the workplace. While they may seem harmless, they can be challenging for workers. You can encourage your team to turn off or mute their devices during working hours so they can focus on their tasks.

2. Unnecessary meetings

Not all business meetings are productive - some lengthy conversations waste valuable time. As with other businesses, your company may be guilty of this issue. One study showed that 67% of employees admitted to spending too much time in meetings, hindering their ability to stay productive at the workplace. They also found themselves multitasking during such meetings. Beyond this, unnecessary meetings can cause your staff to lose focus and the business to lose money. Therefore, rather than having unproductive meetings, your organization will find it helpful to prepare talking points and set time limits. You may also want to stay focused on the main topic instead of wasting time on things that are not part of the agenda.

3. Working without a plan or standard operating procedure (SOP)

SOPs help professionals and operatives understand the order in which they should perform various tasks. Unfortunately, writing SOPs can be time-consuming, especially if there are several roles in your organization. It can also waste precious administration resources, including money. Fortunately, AI-based generators make it easier to create SOPs within seconds. You can consider using this technology to create standard operating procedures for specific tasks and save time.

Operating without a plan can affect time management, as your team may not know what task they should be doing at a given time. You may also waste time trying to determine what duties each employee should focus on and at what time. Fortunately, avoiding this time waster is easy if you work with a plan. By arranging your workflow strategically at the end of each day, you can develop a schedule for everyone to follow to achieve your objectives.

4. Multitasking

Combining multiple tasks simultaneously may seem like a smart move. But did you know that the habit is actually one of the biggest workplace time wasters? Just a small 2.5% of people are able to multitask effectively. Jumping from one project to other causes employees to make needless mistakes, decreases productivity, and inhibits creativity. In addition to that, multitasking is a major cause of burnout. As a business owner, you should encourage your staff to focus on the task at hand and avoid the tendency to multitask. Your team can do much more work if they concentrate on one assignment before moving to another.

5. Micromanaging employees

Another thing that can impact productivity is employee micromanagement. This habit is often tempting, particularly if you care too much about the business and want it to succeed. However, it is a major time waster. Business owners micromanage in an effort to do things in their own way, which is understandable. However, you hired employees for a reason; delegating tasks and relying on their expertise to accomplish some projects is necessary. That said, watching over them and controlling their every move isn't ideal. Micromanaging employees doesn't only waste time but also impacts your team's efficiency. Therefore, instead of hovering over their heads, give guidelines, set specific expectations, communicate freely, and develop employee ownership. While at it, don't hesitate to ask employees for feedback. They may have some ideas to help streamline operations and avoid time wasting.

6. Poor organization

Disorganization is another big workplace time waster to watch for. Have you ever faced challenges trying to find an important document before a crucial meeting? Or did you fail to locate a file that you saw somewhere? If yes, you have probably become a victim of workplace disorganization. Spending several minutes combing through paperwork and files is something a few entrepreneurs want to experience. Poor organization is stressful and frustrating for everyone. Therefore, as a business owner, you must find a way to minimize this time waster in the office. Some ideas to achieve good organization include decluttering your workstation, maintaining a schedule and checklist, and using folders and digital storage.

7. Unimportant emails

Emails have become a major part of business communication systems, yet the irrelevant ones can eat away time. Getting lost in a rabbit hole of emails is easy, especially for business owners. Today, they waste up to 3.4 hours weekly reading messages that add no value to the company. That's an astonishing 177 hours wasted annually. That said, you would agree that getting rid of your business emails isn't really a great option. Therefore, try these ideas instead to avoid wasting time: schedule phone calls and physical interactions and read emails at set intervals. This way, you can save more time for important business matters.

8. Procrastination

Your team may waste precious time if they procrastinate performing key to-do list items. This is because procrastination leads professionals to spend time postponing and rescheduling their tasks. To overcome this, consider shifting your workflow principles and implementing a personal policy to complete your tasks as they pile up. This strategy can help your business become more efficient with time, strengthening your reflexes to avoid laziness. It's also pretty easy for workers to procrastinate if they find their work overwhelming. Therefore, make it a point to streamline the processes and give clear instructions.

9. Equipment issues

Many organizations rely on equipment like computers, printers, smartphones, and computers to run their operations on a regular basis. Unfortunately, there are times when they can break down and cause massive productivity and efficiency issues. Malfunctioning or outdated equipment can frustrate employees, create significant delays in workflow, and result in low motivation. Therefore, addressing equipment issues is important to use time judiciously. One way to achieve this is to ensure all your machines are up-to-date, functional, and properly maintained.

10. Perfectionism

While prioritizing excellence in the workplace is a good thing, spending too much time on perfectionism can harm your business. It can frustrate employees and clients, too. Therefore, instead of always striving for perfection, try to ensure your team does things to the best of their ability. You also don't have to spend several hours going over tiny details to ensure everything is superb when you could have finished other tasks. More often than not, employees will wonder what qualifies as a good job. It would help if you set standards for yourself and your team and avoid agonizing over little things that won't harm the business in the long term. Finally, it is worth noting that mistakes are part of life, and they will happen occasionally.

11. Not knowing when to decline tasks

Workers may try to impress their managers and colleagues by taking on more roles than they can do. Unfortunately, not knowing when to say no to additional tasks is another thing that can waste time. Being a team player is a good trait, but you should know when to draw the line. Attempting to overwork your team will only stress and overwhelm them, thereby limiting their ability to perform tasks to a high degree of satisfaction. Low-quality work can impact the company since it may not meet the standards. Consider asking employees who struggle with their workload to chat with management and explain the situation. You may be able to re-allocate some of the tasks to other team members who are less busy. Learning to say no is a smart idea to steer clear of tasks that waste time, so keep this in mind.

12. Lack of clear goals

Boosting workplace focus and motivation can be hard if no one is working towards a goal. Aside from this, employees may waste time doing things that don't contribute any meaningful returns to the organization. This is why both managers and employees should have realistic goals and objectives. As a tip, businesses should set specific, achievable, and relevant milestones and communicate them clearly to employees. This will enhance morale in the workplace, improve the quality of work, and avoid time wasting.

Time wasting is quite common at work, although it can be problematic for your business. Knowing how to prevent it is crucial. Hopefully, these strategies will help you achieve success.


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