5 Things You Spend Too Much Time On At Work

Do you ever find yourself, after a work day at the office, perplexed at how fast time went by and how little you were able to accomplish? This feeling is not too rare; often times the day-to-day minutia adds up in our schedule, and with the help of some unsound habits, you may end up feeling like a hamster in a wheel.


Here are 5 things to be mindful of, on how much of our time and energy we’re investing on daily:


  1. Email


For many, email is a never-ending loop of questions to be answered, information to be taken in, trash to be sorted through. But, as easy as it is to get lost in the black hole of your inbox, there are a couple things you can do to shorten the amount of wasted time:


– Reduce the influx: It takes time to save time. Take one or two hours (not in a busy day) to go through your inbox, and unsubscribe from all those newsletters and websites that in reality you’re not interested in receiving communications from. You will usually find the “unsubscribe” option at the very bottom of the email, where you’ll be redirected to the website itself to opt out of their mailing list. It can be a painful process, but it’s necessary if you want to decrease the volume of garbage that comes in.


– Say what you mean: We often get lost in the formalities of the written word unnecessarily, and end up spending a couple more minutes per replied email, which will add up to your wasted time tally. Practice the habit of clear, brief communication and exercise it whenever possible and appropriate.


  1. Overextending your help


Although it is an honorable drive to want to help others in their own endeavors, keeping a healthy balance between how much you give and how much you don’t is an important part of your internal wellbeing, and yes, your efficiency. Many of us find ourselves, in the midst of the stress of a deadline and piling obligations, helping coworkers and employees in tasks that they could do themselves. Instead of saying “yes” to all requests for help, or undertaking a task when someone expresses to you that they seem to be unable to do it, use your wisdom to identify which task doesn’t need you in order to be completed, and direct them to a resource that will teach them how to accomplish the task themselves. Share a link with an instructional video or article, connect them with someone who has experience in the matter, and allow them to figure it out for themselves. You can leave the door open for them to reach out to you again if they’re unable to get it done after having exhausted their resources, so they know that they count on your support. Sometimes the most valuable and empowering help you can give someone is to let them discover that they can do something they didn’t know they could do before.


  1. Smoking


If you’re a smoker, you know you spend more time hanging out with this fiend than you might like. The time spent smoking during a work day not only impacts the individual’s health negatively, but it also takes away valuable time from one’s performance at work.


A survey conducted by the Society of Occupational Medicine in the UK can help you see the impact of smoking in the workplace more clearly: 646 surveyed participants smoked 9896 cigarettes per day (Monday through Friday.) 86 of the participants said they didn’t smoke while at work, while 558 smoked an average of 6.4 cigarettes while at work. Calculating that 10 minutes were spent on each cigarette, the average employee spent 64 minutes smoking per work day. The productivity impact is not difficult to imagine. The silver lining is, there was a reported 15% of quitting rate when a workplace-led smoking-cessation initiative was implemented. An in-house initiative can be a powerful incentive for individuals to quit smoking, impacting their health and productivity.


More research is supporting the findings of the positive impact of smoking cessation initiatives in the workplace: according to a study published by the Australian Health Review, the introduction of the smoke-free policy throughout the facilities of Peninsula Health, a public healthcare provider, created a positive response among staff members. During a 3-year period, an increase of employees quitting smoking was seen as early as 6 months after the policy became effective. The World Health Organization found that smoking bans in public spaces has reduced the nation’s smoking by 22.3%, so this initiative has an actual influence on individuals’ choice to quit smoking.


  1. Mobile, web and social media


Social media notifications, texts, email alerts, event reminders… they all make our cellphones light up. We often tend to them as they come up and don’t think much of it, but should we? Just think of the time you spend refocusing on a task after you have diverted your attention to something else, and multiply the number of minutes by the amount of interruptions you face (or create) each day. A study conducted by US George Mason University found that students who were interrupted during the planning and execution of an essay writing assignment produced significantly lower quality work than those who were not interrupted at all, and those interrupted during the writing process had a notably lower word count than those who were able to work undisturbed, or had only been interrupted during the drafting process. Interruptions take a toll on your creativity, and your ability to produce work that reflects your highest potential.


Checking your phone for social media notifications can cut your work flow, and therefore, your creativity and efficiency. According to a Sensis study, 65% of Australians use social networks, and 34% of them use them at work. For many, social media is a daily component of your business. However, you can create a schedule to check your social media instead of responding to it whenever you receive alerts. Allow for blocks of time where you are as uninterrupted as possible, and give your work your undivided attention during those blocks.


  1. Meetings


A report by Ovum and LogMeIn found that 3,900 Australian and New Zealander professionals consider 66% of the meetings they attend to be useless, and cost them about 5 ½ days of work per year. Make sure your meetings are effectively planned, organized, and truly purposeful. Keep your ad hoc meetings in check, and choose the participants conscientiously.


In the world of business every minute counts, and the way you use it paints the bigger picture of your vision. We hope you continue your entrepreneurial journey with greater awareness of how you spend your creative energy; time is golden, your talent is invaluable, and together they’re priceless.

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