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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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Business Articles

Your brand is vulnerable just like Cracker Barrel’s recent troll spotlight #BradsWifeMatters

(BUSINESS) Brad’s wife got fired from Cracker Barrel which has sparked internet outrage and has presented us all with a few lessons.



cracker barrel

Crack in the barrel

It’s been an eventful week for Cracker Barrel so far. The Tennessee-based chain of family/country-style restaurants has found itself in the midst of not one, but two, trending hashtags on Twitter, #Justiceforbradswife and #Bradswifematters, and have seen their Wikipedia page altered multiple times over the past three days as well.

So, what’s behind all of the free—if unwanted—publicity?

They fired Brad’s wife.

Wait, what?

The TL;DR of it is this: Bradley Byrd of Milltown, Indiana, thrust the company into the trolling spotlight on March 4th by posting a simple question to the Cracker Barrel corporate Facebook page:

“Why did you fire my wife?”

Brad’s wife, Nanette, had apparently worked for the local Cracker Barrel for the past 11 years as a server, and was, to the best of Brad’s knowledge, terminated for lack of cause.

Rubbing salt into the wound

That she was fired on Brad’s birthday, and fired two weeks before earning vacation pay for this year.

What was posed as a question from an upset spouse has since taken a life of its own.

It gained a much wider audience when shared by comedian Amri King on Facebook this week.

Note from the Editor: if you want to spend a few hours digging into the many hilarious forms the topic took, click around here (warning: most of it is totally unsafe for work or around children).

People want answers

Not only do more people know about Brad’s wife being fired, but they’ve taken to trolling the Cracker Barrel Facebook page and Twitter feed, with thousands of comments being linked back to Brad’s wife, no matter the tenuousness of the thread connecting their comment to the original post.

There’s also been a petition started at to get Nanette justice, with nearly 9,000 signatures to date.

The range of feedback that Cracker Barrel is receiving spans the gamut from nearly nonsensical to rather witty and droll. But driving the continuation of the onslaught is their reticence; as of the time of writing, Cracker Barrel hadn’t yet responded to either the flood of negative public opinion or to Brad’s original question.

And that’s the smartest move that they’ll make.

The Sound of Silence

It’s so very tempting when your company, brand, or person is being dragged through the public arena, (for right or wrong) to comment back and defend yourself with the same vigor that you’re being attacked by.

That temptation, however, has real consequences if given in to.

In a termination case, you may find yourself in a similar situation.

Pay attention

A beloved employee has done a “VBBT”: a very big, bad thing, and has to be let go. Or, perhaps, it was an employee popular with both internal and external customers, but, while they were nice and good for morale, their job performance had been lacking over time, and you’d worked with them to try to correct it, unbeknownst to the public.

Either way, you should steel yourself for impact.

In the world of digital presence, it’s going to be relentless. And personal. And, usually, mostly wrong on all of the details. It may certainly hurt, and your bottom line may take a brief hit, but remember: you don’t get to comment back on things like this.

Your role is to stay above the fray and remain professional

You made the decision to terminate, and before you did, you did your research as to why it was the right time to terminate the employee (Shame on you if you didn’t—in that case, your problems with an Internet backlash are both deserved and the least of things you ought to be worrying about).

Now it’s time to keep the course and focus on moving forward.

By responding to these comments, you don’t appear to be in control. Making no statement is more useful at times that making a statement that compromises you, be that legally in an employment context, or in the marketplace by mis-stepping and giving the trolls something real to write about.

Issue a statement

If a response to media inquiry or public opinion does become unavoidable, a well-scripted response that is vetted by counsel in advance of releasing it to ensure that you haven’t inadvertently given rise to a defamation or unlawful termination suit, is your best friend.

Make it once in outlets that are responsive, and then let it stay.

No further comment is necessary, nor useful.

An Audience of One

The only person that Cracker Barrel owes an answer to about why Nanette was fired is Nanette. The world at large certainly doesn’t need to know, and, neither does Brad, frankly.

If the employee doesn’t know why they’re being terminated, and provided something in writing to that effect, then that’s an area to address.

Everyone deserves to have clarity in the workplace, especially about something so critical as employee performance feedback leading to termination. Having the cause of termination in writing will also help you to defend against any “re-telling” of the termination story by the employee after the fact.

Also, remember that you have an audience of just one when it comes to discussing the details about those who have been fired: the terminated employee.

Just because it’s a spouse asking the question of why their partner was terminated, that doesn’t give them any additional standing to have that information shared with them by the company.

You Signed Up For This

You’re looking to the long view for your company and brand.

Making a hard decision that is the right thing to do and is evidence-supported isn’t always easy and it certainly isn’t always popular. But it’s the job that you’ve got to do.

You likely have crisis plans in place about what will happen if you have a challenge to critical infrastructure, supply chain, or safety issues.Click To Tweet

In a hyper-present media environment, in which the next meme is lurking around the corner, it’s a good idea to extend that planning to include a media crisis so that when the spotlight is turned onto you, you’ve prepared for it and made certain that you’re putting your best foot forward, by not getting it stuck in your mouth.


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Business Articles

Uber’s tipping policy is janky, also potentially illegal

(BUSINESS) The tipping policy that Uber has in place is not much of a policy, nor is it 100% legal everywhere.




Tipping your Uber

Uber has an interesting policy on tipping, On the Uber website, in the Help section, this is what Uber tells passengers:

“As independent contractors, drivers may request tips at their discretion.”

The current pseudo-policy

Drivers care about rider ratings and do their best to create an ideal trip experience.

While Uber does not require riders to offer drivers a cash tip, you are welcome to do so.

Should you choose to tip, your driver is welcome to accept or decline.

Tipping is illegal in some places

Uber’s app has no place to add a tip for the driver, unlike Lyft, which does allow tipping through the app.

Uber drivers still hope for tips, but Uber’s policy of allowing cash tips might be illegal in some of the states and cities where Uber operates.

Michigan and Pennsylvania are just two of the 13 states which ban cash payments for ride-hailing services.

Paper monies

New York and Texas states are both considering legislation that would ban cash payments to drivers.

Some states simply ban drivers from accepting cash while others ban drivers from soliciting cash payments.

Uber has not updated its website to reflect the different laws in different states where it does operate.

Do you tip Uber?

Proponents of tipping say that Uber serves in the role of a taxi, although it is a private vehicle.

It is nice to tip your Uber driver the same 15 to 20 percent you would tip a taxi driver.

At the very least, you should leave a 5-star rating, unless something was really wrong with the ride.

The point of tension

Critics of tipping your Uber driver worry about whether Uber driver will serve lower-income areas, hoping to go into wealthier neighborhoods where they are assured of bigger tips.

Then there is concern about passenger ratings. Uber drivers would know if a passenger tipped or not before leaving a rating. Is it fair to rate passengers on the amount of a tip or not?

Uber drivers want the app to allow tipping, but Uber wants to keep things, “hassle-free.”


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Business Articles

Sephora is using AR to help all the Barbie girls in the Barbie world

(BUSINESS) Sephora make-up chain is diving into the world AR to help customers shop before purchasing.



sephora subscription sample box

Augmented reality taking over reality

Along with virtual reality and artificial intelligence, augmented reality (AR) is one of the most talked about topics at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive.

Companies are starting to make some serious investments in AR technology, creating innovative new ways of interacting with customers.

New face of AR

While AR has famously been used for interactive marketing and for gaming apps like Pokémon Go, other companies have incorporated AR into their apps and stores in ways that genuinely help make customers make better purchasing decisions.

A need in cosmetics

If you’ve ever tried to buy makeup from a drugstore or the Internet, you know that there’s a high risk that you’ll end up with a truly tragic shade of lipstick, or a foundation that doesn’t match your skin.

The beauty industry has always faced the challenge of selling products that are difficult to sample before purchase.

At a department store, cosmetic counters allow customers to try on makeup before buying, but with more and more people shopping online, it’s time for a high-tech solution.

Sephora’s dive into AR

By investing in AR, cosmetics company Sephora has given customers an excellent way to learn more about products, and even to try them out, virtually, before purchasing.

Their mobile app uses facial recognition technology to provide a fairly accurate estimation of how different products will look on your face.

The app also provides step-by-step makeup tutorials customized for your face shape and skin tone.

Making the choice easier

For Bridget Dolan, vice president of Sephora’s San Francisco-based Innovation Lab, AR provides an opportunity to educate and engage with customers who might otherwise have a hard time choosing which products to buy online.

“Our time, money, effort and energy goes into teaching clients. To achieve new looks, you need to try new products, and if we can make you feel confident, you’ll be more engaged overall,” says Dolan.

Banking on potential

The app is made possible through a collaboration with AR platform Modiface. According to CEO Parham Aarabi, in the early phases of developing their technology, Sephora saw Modiface’s “preliminary vision and its potential, and ran with it.”

By collaborating with a strong brand, Modiface was able to advance the technology further and faster.

“Brands need a champion who has the vision and who sees the long-term possibility – that’s Bridget and her team. They’re really invested in getting the augmented reality right.”

The versatility of AR

The Sephora – Modiface collaboration makes it clear that, as Dolan explains, applications of AR can be more than “just fun.” They can provide interactive experiences that educate customers and pave the way for sales.


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