5 Things You’re Wasting Your Time on at Work

Amber Clark

Apr 03, 2017

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5 Things You’re Wasting Your Time on at Work

How many of us can honestly say we’re productive for every single second of every single work day?

If your answer is yes, we’d love to know how you do it.

For the rest of us, we’re wasting time doing things that take away from our productivity.

Roughly 60% of employees waste between 30 minutes and a full hour daily, and we could be productive for as little as three hours a day.

The next time you find yourself mindlessly participating in one of these activities, think of how much time you’re losing. It’s not fun to explain to your boss that you missed deadlines because of an online flash sale. 

1. Checking Email

We spend more than six hours checking, reading and sending emails every day — more than three of those dedicated to work email.

Minimize the attention you give your email and keep it organized with folders based on projects or tasks at work. Set up rules in your email application to automatically filter emails that don’t require immediate attention (such as e-newsletter subscriptions).

Email can be distracting, so turn off desktop notifications and disconnect your mobile. And for those of us with overwhelming, ever-growing inboxes, an application like Unroll.me will minimize clutter by grouping subscriptions into a single daily digest email.

If you can swing it, avoid checking your email for the whole first hour of your day. This will help you start fresh and be more focused in the morning, so you can give email attention after you’ve gotten some serious work done.

2. Meetings

Meetings are meant to be productive, but they often do exactly the opposite, causing us to waste 31 hours every month.

Though half of meetings are considered wasted, we still have 62 a month. How can we spend this time better?

Time-wasting meetings generally fall into one of two categories:

  • You could have accomplished the same thing without a meeting
  • The meeting itself is a waste of time and unproductive

The first of these is more easily avoidable. When possible, keep it to an email, chat or phone call. If you can’t accomplish the task in those mediums, it’s probably a sign that a meeting actually will be helpful.

The second case happens because of a number of reasons.

Sometimes the meeting has no agenda, thus nothing is accomplished. There could be a lack of leadership, structure, focus or organization with the meeting.

Other times, the meeting attendees are late, absent, ill-prepared — maybe they didn’t read the brief, or maybe there was no brief in the first place — or distracted. 73% do other work while in meetings, and 91% daydream. Unengaged attendees wastes time for everyone.

Distributing a brief a day or two prior to the meeting, as well as creating an agenda that you adhere to during the meeting, can avoid these circumstances.

3. Being Too Social

Nearly a quarter of working professionals waste time at work by talking with colleagues. And while it’s great when you can have a friendly and professional relationship, don’t allow the habit to affect your job performance.

If you have an office, shut the door for at least an hour every day — and sign out of your office chat. This can be your most productive hour.

Keep the bulk of your socializing outside of work hours, meeting for after-work happy hour or going for a lunchtime walk with your coworkers.

4. Checking Social Media

Whatever your social media network of choice may be — Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, even OkCupid — don’t make it a habit to check your feed at work.

Social media sites are designed to draw you in, mindlessly scrolling the infinite posts from your networks. It’s not surprising that 77% of people use Facebook at work.

Turn off your push and email notifications, and sign out of the networks from your work computer. You can check social media before or after work and during lunch.

5. Online Shopping

The most skilled online shoppers know how unbeatable flash sale deals can be, but even casual shoppers are guilty of spending money while making money. 60% of people make online purchases while they’re at work.

But no matter how big the savings, it’s not a good habit to have while you’re on the clock. The occasional one-time deal here and there can be worth the risk, but browsing the most popular products every morning over a cup of coffee? That’s going overboard.

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