If I Could Save Time at the Water Cooler….
Have you ever left work and asked yourself, “Did I even get anything done today?” Even workers who save Candy Crush and Hay Day for their personal time can’t escape the fact that the office is riddled with time wasters. According to this pretty rad infographic from Atlassian, these are the main culprits of time wasted at work:
- Inefficient communication processes, namely email.
- Time consuming, pointless meetings.
- The office is full of constant interruptions.
The way we communicate via email has led to burdensome strings of emails and inefficient processes. Yes, email is faster than homing pigeons, but that is hardly the standard these days.
- The average employee receives 304 weekly business emails.
- The average employee checks his/her mail 36 times a day.
- It takes an average of 16 minutes to refocus on a task after handling incoming email.
Phil Libin of Evernote decided that he didn’t want this time waster in his office. According to Libin,
“One of the things I’ve tried to do is uproot any sort of e-mail culture at Evernote. We strongly discourage lengthy e-mail threads with everyone weighing in. It’s just not good for that. Plus, it’s dangerous, because it’s way too easy to misread the tone of something. If you want to talk to somebody and you’re a couple floors apart, I kind of want you to get up and go talk to them.”
Email has also become overtaken by spam. Email lists are traded more freely than a Little Debby in a lunchroom. The seconds that it takes to search through all that junk email can add up. Spam ends up costing companies an annual productivity loss of $1,250 per employee. They also lose $1,800 to unnecessary emails and about $3,100 on poorly written communications.
The average employee attends 62 meetings a month. Don’t get me wrong, meetings are important for creating cohesion and teamwork, but meetings are all too often a pretty massive waste of time. Employees actually consider ½ the time they spend in meetings to be wasted, and the average employee will spend about 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings. That adds up to a pretty ridiculous amount of wasted time. According to an Atlassian study, the average meeting goer:
- 91% Daydreams
- 96% Missed the meeting
- 39% Slept
- 45% Felt overwhelmed by the number of meetings they’re expected to attend
- 73% Did other work
- 47% Complained that meetings were the #1 time waster at work
We all know just how hard it can be to regain your focus when someone interrupts your work, and it happens far too often. The average employee is interrupted 53 times per day resulting in a lot of time lost refocusing and getting back on task. In fact, Atlassian states that the average employee spends 2 hours per day recovering from distractions. When asked about the relevancy of these interruptions, respondents reported that about 80 percent of interruptions are considered trivial.
This Atlassia study concluded that only 60 percent of work time is actually spent productively. This should be a big eye opener for management. A focus on better communications is where it starts. Secondly, meetings should be held when they need to be held, not because someone has an announcement or it’s Harry’s birthday. Lastly, focus on not being the distractor; close the office door when it needs to be closed and learn how to Google things. Time wasted at work will often mean bringing work home. A conscious effort to maximize time spent at work sets an example, boosts productivity and keeps free time work free. Here are some great Life Hacker tips for staying on task at work.