Featured image by Motortion Films
For most of us, little workplace time sucks have become a regular part of our working lives. We’ve learned to accept them as part of the deal.
But in fact, when it comes to the daily grind of working, there’s little that we all hate more than having to put up with the mundane and tedious. However, the little tasks that sap our energy and leave us barely able to function are just part of the job. Or are they?
But these time sucks don’t just make you feel bad about yourself. They can also have serious effects on your company’s productivity. This is why you need to know how to combat them. Here, we discuss some of the biggest time sucks that lower your productivity in the workplace and what you can do to put a stop to them.
The Biggest Time Sucks
If you are always at the computer and checking email on a regular basis, you’re probably doing it wrong. The best way to combat over-emailing is to only check your inbox when you have something specific you need to respond to, no matter how big or small it may seem.
Some of the reasons people over-email are to keep track of what everyone else is doing. Or they want to make sure they are doing their job and make sure they do what they’re supposed to be doing.
But the reality is that most of us over-email with absolutely no gain whatsoever. When we email in this fashion, a great workplace tool can become a time suck.
Ubaldo Perez, CEO of Hush, shares, “I’ve got a really clear picture of what over-emailing looks like. Most of the time, I’ll only check my inbox when I have an important client reply to me. Or when I’ve received some sort of new reply that needs a response.”
You could learn a lot from that approach. Staying away from endless email-checking throughout the day ensures that you will spend your time better elsewhere in the workplace.
Transition rituals are the practice of jumping on social media or taking a quick break between tasks. If you’re not careful, this practice could become a time suck.
While there is a time and place for these things, it shouldn’t be right before you have an important project or meeting coming up.
That small window of time should be for preparation for the next thing on your agenda. Cesar Cruz, co-founder of Sebastian Cruz Couture, says that “There is no sense in engaging yourself in something that only serves to take your head out of the game.”
He continues, “I believe that just because you’re an employee shouldn’t mean that you don’t work on making your own dreams a reality. Remote and flexible schedules will open up more free time for individuals to solve problems and create things.”
Bottom line: You need to make better use of your time. And checking Facebook intermittently throughout the day isn’t the best way to achieve that goal.
If your office doesn’t have a strict meeting schedule, there’s a good chance that it’s holding endless meetings that serve no real purpose.
To combat these unhealthy time sucks, you need to figure out why you were asked to attend these meetings in the first place. Then, you can present a plan to establish a meeting schedule in the workplace and stick to it.
Once you’ve got a schedule going, you’ll also want to make sure that these meetings are actually helpful. In other words, you want to ensure that you’re not just holding a lot of meetings for the sake of it.
There’s no need for endless meetings if there’s no viable reason for them. If you find that a lot of people are constantly holding endless meetings, you can combat this by being a leader. Point out the fact that some meetings are only serving as a time suck in the office.
Your Daily Calendar Is Overloaded—Again
According to Alex Chavarry, managing member at Cool Links, “Your overloaded daily calendar is ruining your productivity.”
This time suck comes in many forms. But all it really means is that you’re constantly overbooked, you’re overwhelmed, and you can’t get anything done.
He also says it’s important to pick your team wisely if that is what’s causing you to feel overbooked and overwhelmed. “The people who make up your team can absolutely make or break any project even if it seems routine and simple. If you have control over who is going to work on your team, choose wisely,” Chavarry states.
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The first step toward lowering this time suck is to identify what is causing it. Are you overbooked? Is there something that you can cut out of your schedule? Are you just planning the wrong things?
Once you’ve identified what the problems are, there are a couple of ways you can combat them. First, you can reduce the number of people you’re working with. You can also get help with delegation. These might seem like basic solutions, but they can pay off big-time.
Being Distracted by Distractions
Being distracted by distractions (thinking about responsibilities, daydreaming, and so on) is the biggest time suck many employees have to deal with. This is when your mind is always wandering. Or it’s when you are always being pulled out of the task at hand by some other idea that occurs to you.
There are a few things that you can do to combat this. Let’s say you find that your distractions are about work and what you have to do throughout the week. If that’s the case, start by making time in your schedule for essential tasks that you absolutely must do.
No matter how busy you are, you can make time for what you truly need to do and what you truly want to do. You can also put up boundaries. In other words, make sure you’re not bringing people into the workspace who distract you when you’re trying to work.
As Will Watters, co-founder and creative director at Western Rise puts it, “You can’t let other people dictate your goals. You have to come first.” Watters knows a thing or two about staying on a tight schedule. You can’t do that unless you’re committed to change.
In other words, if you want to lose the distractions while you’re at work, you need to find time to take on the things that are causing them in the first place. Once you’ve eliminated those distractions, you won’t have them hanging over your head.
Hoarding work is when you constantly have work piled up in your head, but you never get anything done. The reason you’re hoarding work in your head is twofold.
First, you’re over-emailing and you’re overbooked. Therefore, you’re constantly thinking about what you should be doing, what you should be doing better, and what you should be doing with this work that you’re ignoring.
Second, you’re a perfectionist. If you’ve spent the last couple of years working through a huge project, and you’ve been feeling guilty about it, this is likely what’s happening. This is just one example of the effects of hoarding work. But rest assured, there are many more.
So, what can you do to put a stop to this unhealthy time suck? Tavis Lochhead, co-founder of Looria, says, “You have to get radical about your ambitions, whether in life or in the workplace. Anything less will probably result in failure.”
So instead of sitting on your projects and procrastinating, get serious about getting things done. Your stress levels alone will see a huge improvement.
Over-promising is when you promise more than you can deliver. This is a huge time suck for a couple of reasons. First, you feel bad about yourself when you don’t deliver. And you also end up making a fool of yourself and your team if you don’t deliver.
The solution to this is quite simple. Tom Mohr, founder of CEOQuest, says it best: “Promise only what you can deliver, and deliver only what you promise.”
This is an easy formula, sure. But it’s something that you can start implementing right away.
Non-intuitive software can send your blood pressure through the roof and delay even the simplest of projects. If your workplace uses non-intuitive software, you can rest assured that you aren’t the only one dealing with this time suck.
According to Meredith Kokos, head of marketing at Guaranteed Rate, “It’s imperative to your productivity that you give your employees a quality work environment.” This would, of course, include good, reliable software.
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Now that you know some methods to combat common time sucks in the workplace, you can develop a strategy to eliminate or at least reduce them from your daily routine. Depending on your position in the company, it may take some time to implement all the things we covered.
But don’t be afraid to voice your concerns. As Michael Van, CEO of Furnishr, states, “Business owners and leaders want to improve the workplace for their employees. But we won’t know until we hear from you.”
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