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Top 10 ways you are accidentally wasting time at work

(Business News) Productivity is a challenge in the digital era, and unfortunately, there are still many innocent habits that most people have that lead to wasting time at work.

wasting time

Get ready, it’s time to waste time!

Let’s face it, life is filled with distractions – Angry Birds, snack foods, one more episode of Breaking Bad while you binge, and so forth. But today, it is not the obvious distractions we are talking about, no, it is the tasks that many of us are dedicated to every day that force us to accidentally waste time at work, even the tasks we have designed to save ourselves time.

Sometimes efforts backfire, and sometimes the average workday forces us to lose time, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Let us discuss of the top 10 ways you are accidentally wasting time at work.

1. Redoing things

You create a to do list before you leave the office, but after checking email in the morning, you recreate your to do list. You’ve wasted time redoing something.

You sign up for a new shiny social media tool, you set up your profile picture, complete your bio, and tie it to all of your other social networks. You spend an hour learning how to use the tool, and you realize that for one reason or another, this particular tool isn’t going to work for you, so you begin researching alternatives and ultimately set up a different tool. You’ve wasted time redoing something.

You are in a hurry to finish, so you copy and paste a specific company policy from the web into your own employee manual, and later realize that the policy doesn’t address unique challenges presented in your company, and you have to start from scratch. You’ve wasted time redoing something.

2. Obsessing over productivity

You spend hours researching productivity tools, because you’re the most productive guy or gal on the block, so you’re ahead of the game, right? Wrong. It is actually counter-productive to obsess over productivity, because it cuts into your actual work time.

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It is productive to test out productivity methods and apps, but to obsess over tweaking them and always knowing about every single productivity tool wastes more time than it makes.

3. Over-checking social networks

Most of us are guilty of this. You open a browser and you’re just going to peek at Facebook, right? Then, you look up and an hour has passed, and all you’ve done is comment on cat pictures.

There is a tremendous difference between checking in on your social networks and putting out fires, versus falling into the wormhole that is social media. There are endless tools that can help you to get in and get out, and others like Cold Turkey that completely block time-wasting sites.

4. Allowing interruptions

One of the biggest time wasters is allowing interruptions to ruin your workflow. We’re all guilty of it – you get an email pop up and you have to answer it. You see the push notification on your phone alerting you to a tweet that just mentioned your brand’s name, and you have to go make sure it isn’t negative, then you answer it. Your phone rings and of course, because it’s ringing, you answer it (because there’s a chance it’s money).

You can’t ignore all interruptions, but without prioritizing which interruptions to allow dictate your day, you’re accidentally wasting time. Select which type of interruptions are the biggest money makers and stick to those, but never allow everything to interrupt you and rule your day – you’ll never get your to do list done.

5. Whining and/or negativity

Negativity is a huge time waster. Period. If you check in to Facebook and you’ve been tagged in a troll fight, what happens? You spend an hour trying to diffuse a situation or stepping out of it. Your coworker wants to tell you all about how much she hates that other girl for making her do such and such, and because you’re a team player, you listen (without engaging), but 15 minutes pass and your email is blowing up. Time wasted.

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In the same vein, whining gets you nowhere. Instead of being that coworker who spends time whining about such and such, take that same amount of time and deal with the actual problem instead of whining on Twitter while you waste everyone’s time with pettiness. And even if it’s not petty, when you find yourself whining, ask if you’re accidentally wasting time that you could spend fixing a problem so the problem is over and no longer a time suck.

6. Wandering aimlessly, online and off

Some people accidentally waste a lot of time at work by wandering. Online, you log in to your feed reader and click a link, which takes you to another, then you click an ad on the sidebar, then you end up comparing products to the advertised product.

Offline, a lot of time is wasted getting settled in when people arrive at the office at the beginning of the day, and after lunch, and then, restlessness at the end of the day creates wandering from desk to kitchen to coworkers’ desks and so on.

Quit wandering and watch your productivity soar.

7. Obsessing over metrics

You’re hip, you’re happening, and you’re smart enough to know that there is an endless amount of actionable data just waiting to be discovered, if only you are using the right tool – and wasting time obsessing over metrics is the same pitfall as obsessing over social networks.

While implementing analytics and metrics for your website, your sales data, your employee performance data, your social networks, and more, is important, and can be the difference between failure and success, it can be a time suck if you obsess over it.

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8. Meetings, meetings, and more meetings

You may be trying “innovative” methods for meetings, ranging from stand up meetings to limiting meetings to only essential staff, but studies reveal that one of the top workplace complaints is that there are too many meetings that waste their time. Then, there are the wrapup emails and follow up meetings and follow up email chains, and it really is the scourge of the workplace.

It’s not just about making meetings more productive, it’s about having less of them, and even using digital tools… this Google+ commercial comes to mind:

9. Not just picking up the phone

You get an email that is confusing. You email back. They email you back about how you’re not understanding, and you return the email with an assertion that you do understand. They email you and tell you new details that change your understanding, so you clarify and email back. They email you an attachment to update the email chain, and you think you’re all clear, but now they tell you they need something else from you that never made sense in the first place.

We’ve all been there.

When you sense that there is a miscommunication with a customer, employee, coworker, or anyone, just pick up the phone and save yourself a lot of time. You think you’re being productive by typing a few words and zipping it off on the interwebs, but sometimes, you’re wasting time by making things more complicated than they have to be.

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10. Lack of prioritization

For many people, particularly in the digital era, everything is an emergency and must be dealt with right now. But not having priorities can land you in a rabbit hole that ruins your day.

Without goals set for the day, even if simple and few, you’re likely wasting time because you lack priorities, therefore, everything is a priority. Huge time waster.

Next steps

Evaluate where you are accidentally wasting time, don’t beat yourself up about it, avoid negativity, and just move on with a more productive day. When you catch yourself accidentally wasting time, snap back into place and get back to work!

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.


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