How can I stop wasting time?

by Sam on October 31, 2011

Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. ~Philip Dormer Stanhope

We are each guilty of letting time slip away that could be better used for productivity, rest, or enjoyment. If only ten minutes on the job are thus squandered each day, that’s close to one workweek gone up in smoke each year!

Here are ten time wasters that if they each consume one minute will constitute that workweek. Which are the worst robbers of your time? Will you follow the advice provided to set yourself free?

“Oh, no…here he comes!” Some people don’t have enough to do and love to gab. They circle like office vultures looking for prey. When they land in your office they may say, “Sorry to interrupt you, but…” ADVICE: Stand up and say this: “For you I’m interruptible. Let’s make it 4 o’clock this afternoon. I’ll have 15 minutes. See you then…and what will you want to talk about?” Be kind, but firm. There’s a good chance he won’t return.

“My pen’s got legs.” Where are the keys to your car? Where are those glasses you set down? Your purse? That jump drive? Your cell phone? Favorite pen? Money clip? Book? ADVICE: Have a designated resting place for each of these items; don’t vary from them. Keep your desk and your office well organized.

“I’m supposed to be where?” An unchecked slip of the finger can easily cause a false entry on electronic calendars that puts you in the wrong place or at the wrong time. ADVICE: Verify that an appointment you believe you entered is where it should be. Confirm engagements the day before.

“I’ll remember that.” How many times have you taken a phone call in your car verifying an appointment? Practicing good safety, you delayed entering it on your calendar, and forgot later to record it. ADVICE: Stop the car, and record the appointment or use the voice record feature on your smart phone to describe the commitment.

“Why am I here?” You don’t need to go to every meeting or event to which you are invited. ADVICE: Contrast the value of attending every meeting or event with how you could alternatively spend that time. When appropriate, announce your intent not to attend or to send a representative.

“It doesn’t take much more time.” Most people have mastered 25% or less of the efficiencies that their favored piece of software offers. Why waste time performing operations that your software will do for you? (Most of us lose more than ten minutes a day just on this one!) ADVICE: Register for an intermediate or advanced course on the software on which you most depend for productivity.

“Why did you do it THAT way!” Communication experts claim that about 75% of the time people do not understand our directions or requests well enough to satisfy us with their responding behavior. What a waste of time it is for them to get it right the second time or to argue that you weren’t clear enough! ADVICE: Ask yourself how you can send your next message such that listeners can’t possibly get it wrong. You’ll need to focus on them to do this and be alert for signs that you’re not being understood.

“What did you say?” Sometimes you’re on the receiving end of misunderstanding and the resulting lost time. ADVICE: Focus on people when they speak to you; don’t let anything get in the way of your understanding of them. Determine that you’ll not leave their presence without clear confirmation of their intent.

“Oh, No! Not the blue screen of death!” There are two kinds of PCs—those that have crashed and those that are about to. ADVICE: Invest in a system that will continually back up everything on your computer. Consider switching to a Mac.

“This is fun!” Goofing off and daydreaming can be therapeutic and energy building, but carried to an extreme will cost you. ADVICE: Schedule breaks and fun into your workday, but guard against overdoing it.

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