In some form, at some point in time, in one day or another, we all waste time. You may think it’s easier to lose track of time doing menial tasks outside of the office, but that’s not always completely true. Most often it can be just as easy, if not easier, for time to slip away from us during the work day, especially if you do not care for the work needed to be done that day.
According to the infographic Time Waste @ Work by TrackVia, despite what many may think, social media —such as Facebook and Twitter —only account for 5 percent of the time an employee waste’s during his or her day. What is the no.1 culprit? The oh-so loved water cooler and the discussions (more like gossip) that take place there.
Now we’ve all heard the sayings before: Time is money. Time is precious. Time is valuable. But even though time holds such esteem and our work life places such an emphasis on it, keeping track of our time can still pose a problem every now and then, even for the most dedicated worker. So, is there any hope? Will we ever permanently eliminate time wasters from our day?
The answer is most likely not, but there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of time you waste at work. Below are three areas to focus on cultivating to decrease the time wasters in your work day while increasing your personal productivity:
1. Internal commitment
To cut down the minutes (and possibly hours) you spend doing everything but your required work, you will need to build your internal commitment. Of course your employer may have time restrictions and policies in place, but an employee cannot fully count on these to control his or her actions. Some companies have more lax rules than others, and, even still, everyone learns how to bend the rules and make policies work for them.
If you truly desire to be more productive, make the commitment internally knowing that no one else can motivate you to action but you. Think about your reasoning for the goal —increased productivity, truly following the rules like an employee is supposed to, keeping your job, etc. —and then write these down. This way, like any other goal, you will be able to go back and look at your initial motivation for doing this if ever you become distracted.
Once you’re fully committed you will need to manage your actions. Remove any and all distractions and time wasters. Bring bottled water with if you know going to the water cooler or break room steals your time. Or visit these places at times other than your normal routine when you know so-and-so co-worker will be there to chat. If possible, block social media and other leisure sites from your computer. Make a schedule with timed tasks, set a timer and tackle each one. Check off the list as you go. This will not only help you make the most of your time, but will show you just how much more you can accomplish without outside distractions.
Don’t forget to layout consequences for breaking your internal commitment to not wasting time. Many times we do things we know we shouldn’t because there are no or minimal immediate consequences involved. Reprimand yourself for time lost, knowing not to act too harshly but being forceful enough that you won’t want to break your commitment again.
Often times we become distracted from our work and waste time doing other things when working alone. When you’re working around or with others it can be easier to stay on task, especially if you’re a part of a group effort. Wherever possible, collaborate with co-workers and/or team members on assignments. This way someone can hold you accountable for how you’re using your time.