Top Time Wasters and How to Avoid Them

It’s easy to find extra time in your week to get things done when you realize the amount of time you have never changes; being smart about how you use it gets more done in the available time.

The telephone. Interruptions caused by phone calls can reduce your productivity well below half. One client I worked with did a time study and found he was spending up to 2 hours a day answering phone calls that someone else could have dealt with or were calls of no value to him. He blocked out 2 hours a day when he did not answer the phone and found that he got about 4 hours worth of work done. He also reduced his working hours each day by 2.
Email now ranks with phone calls as a top time waster.
Action: schedule time to make and receive phone calls and emails. Put these in your default diary so you know when they are to be done. Block out time that is uninterruptable to get high value work done.

Visitors. Unscheduled meetings interrupt your day just like phone calls. A travel agent client I worked with had the constant disruption of people dropping in for a chat. It is wonderful that people want to keep that contact with you. However, the meeting needs to be kept brief.
Action: Prepare plans to deal with these circumstances. The plan should have a script that deals with ending the meeting such as needing to meet someone else, and it should also have movements, like standing and walking the visitor to the door.

Meetings that go too long or waste time. You are meant to be earning money. If the meeting is not contributing to making money don’t have it. The meeting should only go as long as its return on investment. If you are holding a meeting with 4 people who each earn $100 an hour, then your meeting better end up making more than that back. Otherwise, you would be better off not holding the meeting.
Action: Have a set agenda and time frame for meetings. The chairman must keep the meeting to the agenda. Circulate the agenda so that people come prepared. Put time limits on responses.

Procrastination. The biggest time waster of all is putting it off or letting something else get in the way. You know what I mean. “I will just get a cup of coffee before I start.” “I will just take the garbage out.”
Action: Stop putting it off. Write yourself a sign and put it up. The sign says DO IT NOW.

Socialising. The coffee break is the break. Work is not the break from socialising. Taking too long because you are busy chatting is wasting time. Time adds up. If you waste 10 minutes a day, that’s 50 minutes a week, which is 2500 minutes in 50 weeks. That’s 41 hours and 40 minutes. A whole week’s work.
Action: Mental sign BACK TO WORK.

Let’s have a quick review of time wasting, or more importantly the benefit of not wasting time. Take 10 minutes of less socialising when you should be working, take another 10 minutes of more effective activity from the other 4 areas mentioned. Start work 5 minutes earlier and finish 5 minutes later. That’s 30 minutes a day. You have just got yourself 2 1/2 hours a week of productive work (a day’s worth of just being busy being busy type work). How much more will you make in a year by working like this? Not harder, just more determined and efficient. What difference will that make to your business and your life? It is up to you.

Marcus Kroek
Winner: Best CLient Results 2008
ActionCOACH Asia Pacific

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