Stop Doing These 4 Things That Eat Up Valuable Work Time

5 young professionals standing together staring at their phones

Lauren Nowacki

January 12, 2022

Some days, you glance at the time and can’t believe it’s already 5 o’clock. You look over your to-do list and realize nothing has been crossed off. Where did the time go? We may have found the culprit.

The 4 Biggest Time Wasters

These may seem like no-brainers, but they’re so common in our daily office lives that we may not realize how much time they can actually take away from our work. Here are four things that eat up valuable time and how to avoid them.

Cell Phones

When employees are distracted, their focus isn’t on their work or productivity. And the biggest distracter of all is the cell phone – at least according to 55% of employers who were surveyed by CareerBuilder. Smartphones allow you to do so much at once, right in the palm of your hand – and that’s the problem. With cell phones, employees can easily play a game, text loved ones, make personal calls and hop on the internet with ease and some level of privacy. Even if they aren’t intentionally going on their phones, with the cell phone in sight, they are constantly glancing over as they get text messages and other alerts. To help combat this, try some of the following with your employees and with yourself.

  • If clients call your cell phone, figure out the times that clients aren’t calling you and plan your day around that schedule.
  • Dedicate a specific amount of time (25 – 30 minutes) in which you will solely focus on your work, then give yourself a short, 5-minute break to check your phone before the next shift.
  • If clients don’t call your cell phone, put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode during dedicated working times.
  • Turn off push notifications and internet access completely while at work.
  • Use the Screen Time app to put time limits on the apps you use.

Social Media

Social media should be an important piece of your business marketing plan. It helps you connect with clients, promote events, direct people to your site and build your brand. But even when you sign on with the best intentions, it’s easy to get sucked into your own news feed. Here’s how to avoid the black hole of Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.

  • Schedule your posts in advance to remove the task of posting daily.
  • Use third-party sites to manage your posts, schedule paid media and handle comments. This can help keep you off social sites entirely.
  • If you’re able, hire a social media manager.

Our Marketing Hub makes it easy for you to create social tiles that you can customize with specific messaging. It’s another great way to save time and focus on your business.

Meetings

Meetings are notorious for being time wasters – and they can cost your business money. To see how much 1-hour meetings are costing the company, simply take the hourly wage of each person sitting in your next meeting and add it up. Then, multiply the sum by each 1-hour meeting held that week. Think about this number each time you schedule a meeting, then ask yourself, “Can this be solved quickly over the phone or by walking over to someone’s desk?”

Of course, there will always be a need for some meetings. Face-to-face interaction with your team is often the best way to plan ahead, strategize or present a major project. When a meeting is necessary, use these tips to make it more efficient.

  • Cut the length of your meetings down to 30 minutes and have a hard stop.
  • Determine the purpose of the meeting and have a clear goal for what you wish to accomplish.
  • Create and hand out an agenda before the meeting so you have a roadmap to keep you on course.
  • Have all materials ready at the start of the meeting. If using technology, make sure it is set up and ready to go before the meeting is scheduled to begin.
  • Get down to business at the time the meeting was scheduled to start. Don’t make small talk or wait for people to shuffle in.
  • Focus on the things that are off track, not the things that are going smoothly.
  • End the meeting with specific takeaways and make sure everyone knows the next steps that are expected.

Emails

According to a survey by Adobe, the average American worker spends about 3 1/2 hours checking work emails and a little over 2 hours checking their personal emails every day. That’s more than 5 hours a day, more than half a typical work day.

Email is one of the most common ways employees communicate with one another, so it isn’t going away anytime soon. Here’s how to tackle emails better.

  • Schedule time on your calendar specifically for reading and responding to emails.
  • Turn off email alerts during unscheduled time.
  • Create reply-all and CC guidelines for your team to cut back on unnecessary emails.
  • Before you send the email, ask if it can be solved with a simple phone call.

Finding creative ways to avoid wasting valuable time at work should be a collaborative effort between co-workers and leaders. Work within your team to create solutions everyone can use and watch your team’s productivity grow.