7 Common Time Wasters in the Workplace (and how you can avoid them)

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Common time wasters in the workplace

Time wasters in the workplace reduce employee productivity by a lot.

On an average a person wastes around 30 mins to 3+ hours a daya according to a survey by GetVoip.

As shocking as the results of this study are, the common time wasters won’t surprise anyone.

In my experience most of the time wasted at work is due to digital distractions and some trivial tasks that can be easily avoided.

Here are the list of few common time wasters and proven solution to those.

Let's dive in.

Statistics of employees working hours while they aren't working.
A survey by Getvoip

What Are Time Wasters in Workplace & How to Avoid Them

Here are 7-time stealers at the workplace and some effective strategies to avoid them to increase employee productivity.

1. Social Media

Mindlessly scrolling through social media has become a habit for all of us and it doesn’t stop at work. Even a quick sneak peek to check your notifications takes away your focus and makes deep work impossible.

You'll have on an average of 40 second attention span when your phone will be near. No wonder why social media is now the major workplace time waster.

To have a mindful work you must restrict the urge of accessing social media at the first place. I would suggest you to establish a block time; when you'll never access the social media at any cost.

Pro tip:
It'll be hard to get along in the beginning but gradually it will become normal. For further assistance you can take help from some focus and productivity tools that can assist you in the starting period. 

2. Emails

It's estimated that an employee wastes around 2.5 hours of productive time each day by checking on emails. Although checking email is part of the job but a major portion of it is just another source of distraction.

Avoid randomly checking emails. Devide your day in mutliple segments and keep a specific portion of the time for email checking and reply.

Pro tip:
I found its best to check email after lunch hour when you tend to be less productive for any focus driven work. It's better to keep a fixed time window like 30 min or 1 hour for checking and replying emails.

Keep in mind your focus work time frame should never be distracted by anything at all.

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↘️How to Increase Productivity in Workplace

3. SmartPhone/Personal Work

Frequently checking smartphone notifications, irrelevant calls, texting with your friends, and relatives, online shopping, etc. are just killing tons of your time.

If you want to be productive there is no other way than dropping these habits.

Be as restrictive as you can regarding doing any personal work at office period. This not only helps you keep yourself on track but also benefits your office to a great extent.

Pro tip:
Avoding use of smartphone on the desk could be a great way to start this off. Also more and more employers are now focusing on employee time and productivity tools for ensuring better productivity at work place.

4. Unnecessary Meetings

Do you know what's worse about the meetings?

It never feels like a time waster but it always ends up wasting insane amount of time from every office day.

What's the solution?

Just put a full stop on unnecessary meetings.

Ask yourself before creating or joining any meeting. What are the specific outcomes you and your team is going to get?

If that's noting significant just plainly avoid those meetings.

Pro tip:
Canceling meetings without clear agendas and only inviting those who need to be there is a good way to cut down on time wasted. 

Moreover, you can introduce meeting-free days, set time limits, and document meetings to ensure employees feel comfortable missing meetings when their attendance may not be 100% necessary.

5. Gossiping

When you are in deep work, your coworker can come to you with irrelevant work or discussion that can damage your productivity.

Researchers have found that 86% of employees gossip during the workday.

Additional studies by the University of Virginia and Indiana University demonstrate that gossip damages trust and diminishes employee morale and reputation.

How can you tackle this? Unfortunately, there is no proven way to tackle gossip.

The best you can do is enforce a positive work environment and have policies in place to deal with extreme cases of negative gossip against employees.

Pro tip:
Encourage an uplifting culture where each one of the employees will have positive participations regarding how we can make the work place better. Technically an HR can play a significant role over here.

6. Multitasking

You think multitasking makes you smart & productive? You are wrong.

Mutlitasking is actually a time killer which prevents you from finishing off priority tasks on time. Along with that it deminishes your focus and productivity as well.

Learn how to prioritize instead of doing everything at once. Take one task after anothers and learn to say no to additional workloads that are dumped on you.

Pro tip:
Try taking help from different project management tool to keep everything organized and prioritized. Especially kanban board could be very helpful in terms of organizing tasks by priority.

7. Noisy Environment

The noisy office environment or unnecessary loud coworkers can distract you from your work which wastes your time.

A loud printer, the ring of cell phones, gossiping and talking loud make the office environment noisy.

You have to have zero tolerance for noisy office environment. Point it out to the management and ask for instant actions.

Pro tip:
If you can't influence the work enviornment directly then I'd suggest you to buy a noise cancelling headphone and deep dive into your focus work.

Why It is Important to Address The Biggest Time Wasters at Work

Manpower is one of the biggest assets for a company of any size.

Your ultimate goal has to be utilizing this power to the best and attain peak efficiency.

Time wasters in the workplace keep you from reaching this goal. Also, consider the financial loss you incur.

According to Forbes, millennials waste 2 hours a day or 40 hours on average at work and The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that an employee in the private sector earns $32.92 per hour.

That’s $1316 wasted every month for each millennial worker.  
So, it's in your best interest to eliminate these common time wasters in the workplace.

Some Pro Tips for Avoiding Time Wasters & Improve Productivity

Here are some of the strategies that proved to be very effective in terms of removing workplace time waste and improve productivity.

Set a Schedule for Deep Work

Image of an task list and clock
Set a schedule for deep work

My personal favorite strategy.

In my long career I've not found anything that beats focus work.

Focus work means you'll delve into the work with top most focus and avoid accessing anything. (No social media, no email checking, meetings, etc.)

Try setting up a task goal and an hour goal for your everyday focus work. You can also encourage your employees to set a schedule for deep work by themselves. Encourage using pomodoro tracker which was very useful in my case.

Every coworker will know the schedule of each one's deep work, so no one will distract anyone in that time frame.

When in deep work mode, you can set your phone to Airplane mode, and block distracting websites on your devices using focus apps like Freedom or Forest.

If you don’t want to be interrupted by others, use noise-cancellation headphones.

For remote teams, you can share working tips remotely with them to stay more productive.

Use Time Tracking

Interface of a time trackingg software
Use time tracking

Implement the use of time-tracking and employee-monitoring software across your organization. You can conduct project time-tracking or track specific tasks with the prominent apps.

You can encourage your employees to take charge and improve their working process to eliminate time wasting activities.

Plus, Time tracking softwares like Apploye generates productivity reports that will help you to hold your team accountable and aid decision-making related to increasing workplace productivity.

Improve your workplace productivity: Try Apploye Today

Establish Email Communication Hours

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Keep your email inbox closed

You should select a specific time to check the email that you have received and reply to them. Also let everyone know what is your typical replying time so no body keeps bothering you unnecessarily.

You can take advantage of AI rely or auto reply to keep your hands little free.

Limit Your Smartphone Usage

Interface of mobile writing on and off on it.
Turn off/mute your smartphone

Restricting your phones to access anytime can be a game chager for you. The less you use it the porductive your days become.

To bring this on effect you can keep your phone away from your desk (preferably on your drawer or some where you can't see it).

Designate a specific time of the day when you'll be using your phone.

Reduce the use of social media

An infograph signaling digital detox by the illustration of a mobile phone's restriction
Reduce the use of social media

Try digital detox. Avoid social media at work or limit it as much as you can.

Set a specific time each day when you want to go on social media. Turn off the notifications on your mobile and laptop.

Also don't forget to sign out from your social media accounts from your office devices.

Keeping a certain quota of time to use social media can be very useful for some people.

Automate Your Workflows

Using workflow automation tools will eliminate mundane, repetitive, and tiresome tasks from your employees' work schedules.

You can integrate most of the tools you use and bring it all into one platform. This cuts back time wasters as employees can access most tools from one platform.

Allow healthy break times

Trying out a million productivity improvement strategies won’t get you a hundred percent efficiency.

In the end, humans need breaks to function.

Overworked employees are likely to make more mistakes which can cost you even more money than wasted working hours.

So, allow enough breaks for you and your employees to feel refreshed.

Final Thought

The last words, Wasted time is inevitable, but if you become aware of the time-wasters, you can reduce wasted time in the workspace.