It is rightly said that time and tide waits for no one. We all have 24 hours in a day, and it’s up to us on how to make the most out of available time. The same holds true for modern-day businesses that are always looking for ways to be more productive, yet can’t figure out how to cut down time-wasting activities.
One of the main differences between successful and not-so-successful, or mediocre businesses is the way they track and manage the time spent on different tasks and other activities at work. While the former is very good at it, the latter struggles to utilize time efficiently.
It’s no secret that good time management plays a crucial role in determining whether or not a business would be able to successfully deliver projects on time, or even before it.
Most professionals always seem to be catching up on time; they rue that they have so much to do and have so little time to complete the tasks at hand.
Surprisingly, only a handful of business professionals recognize the value of time. What’s even worse is that little is being done to make better use of perhaps the most valuable asset any individual or organization can have.
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Let’s accept that we all go through days, or even weeks when we are far from being our productive best. While “occasional” lows at work are not much to be worried about, it’s when your output steadily diminishes that it becomes a cause of serious concern for both the employee and employer.
Wasting time at work, or its ineffective utilization has emerged as the main culprit behind poor productivity and low efficiency of employees. Why do so many employees waste time at work? Let’s dwell on some reasons behind it.
Common Causes of Wasted Time at Work
- Checking social media and texting on mobile devices too often
- Poor documents organization (both digital and paper documents)
- Checking personal email accounts multiple times
- Unplanned meetings
- Poor collaboration within teams
- Colleague interactions
- Lack of motivation
I’m pretty sure that most (if not all) of these causes are resulting in a lot of precious time wasted in your organization. However, as a responsible business owner or team manager, you just can’t let these things be a burden for your business forever.
As the Chief Marketing Officer at ProofHub, when I realized that we need to eliminate time wastage during working hours, I was quick to implement some useful and “proven” ways to tackle the aforementioned distractions, and results delighted us in the form of increased productivity and high efficiency of employees.
Let’s take a look at how to minimize employees wasting time at work.
1. Have A Concrete Plan For The Day
Do you know that the biggest waste of time happens when employees do not have any solid plan for the day or week? When we don’t have a plan for the day, we don’t have a clear sense of purpose at work.
It results in most employees just picking tasks randomly and drifting through the day, without making any progress to achieve organizational (and personal ) goals or purpose.
First things first, team leaders should encourage employees to create a to-do list for the day ahead before they start working in the morning. Ask them to prioritize tasks and set expected time in which they hope to complete them.
This will help them to have a clear goal and focus on accomplishing it, without giving attention to “irrelevant” work, which can eat up a lot of valuable time.
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2. Lead From The Front
You’re a team leader and all eyes are on you; you have to set a strong example because your employees are likely to emulate your approach to work. Whether you’re a business owner or a team manager, you set the tone for the entire team.
Before you define work instructions for your team, it’s crucial that you’re working to the best of your ability, and as efficiently as possible. Set a clear start and stop time for your daily tasks, use mobile devices for urgent calls only, prohibit using social media during work hours, and avoid casual discussions to achieve more in less time.
However, having a mile-long to-do list will not help you or your employees to be much better at work. It’s important to be realistic about your daily plan, rather than being over-optimistic with it.
3. Use The Best Team Collaboration Tools
It’s important for the entire team to be on the same page when working on a project. It is seen that poor team collaboration leads to misunderstandings, miscommunication, and lack of mutual trust, which eventually leads to doomed “project failure”.
As a savvy team leader, you should use the best team collaboration tool to simplify project management and improve inter-team coordination. The best tool usually has all the right features in one location, which will help your team members to coordinate tasks and make every one of them accountable for their work.
Using a feature-rich project management and team collaboration software, you can create tasks, assign them, assign project managers, chat instantly, visualize the project’s progress at every stage, set deadlines, and much more
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4. No Agenda; No Meeting
Poorly defined meetings are among the top time wasters in business.
Having a team meeting without an agenda is nothing more than another way of wasting time at work. Do not schedule meetings which do not have a clear agenda, because much of the time will be wasted on bouncing from one discussion to another, without achieving much in terms of decision-making.
On the other hand, meetings with a clear agenda and a decisive chairperson can be precise and productive. Clear topics for discussion and strict start and finish times eliminates time wastage from the picture.
5. Give Longer Breaks
No, that’s not a typing mistake. You read that right!
Giving longer breaks to your workforce could actually turn things in your favor. A report from Salary.com found that some common time-wasting activities in offices are gossiping with other co-workers (43%), online activities (34%), texting, and employees indulging in personal phone calls (4%).
These time-wasting activities tempt each one of us during the workday, which can indirectly indicate that we need a break to recharge our focus. Rather than exerting pressure on employees to work more, you may get positive results by giving them longer breaks.
During longer breaks, they can do their own thing (texting, social media, watercooler conversation), and regroup themselves for the rest of the workday. You can consider increasing the break time by 20–30 minutes per day and see if it brings out a positive impact on the workflow.
6. Offer Incentives
Incentives can go a long way in motivating employees to be at their productive best. People are motivated by money, and you can use it to your organization’s advantage. Incentives can be in the form of monetary bonuses or something else that’s useful for the employees.
The idea is to encourage the workforce to hit certain targets or milestones and reward them when they can achieve set goals. This will also help eliminate employees wasting time at work as they’ll be more focused on doing tasks at hand.
When I worked for a small digital marketing start-up, my boss would give us a bonus incentive if we reached a set goal each month. While I was already a self-motivated professional, I used this opportunity to manage my time wisely to progress during the entire month so that our team could get the bonus.
Overall, an incentive can give that extra push to your employees to get things done on time and avoid wasting time on irrelevant tasks.
7. Protect Your Workspace
If your team members can drop over to your desk as and when they feel like then you’ve got a problem to sort out quickly. Yes, you have to be there for your employees whenever they are stuck with a task or facing a problem at work, yet you should not let them interrupt you regularly.
Frequent interruptions mean a lot of time wasted regularly. Your workspace should, and must, remain a highly productive space. If people are interrupting you regularly, you can try the following tips.
- Inform them you’re busy with your schedule, and to put any queries they have via email
- When you allow them to meet you, give them a specific duration of time and you must stick to it
- Ask them to contact you through a phone call at a given time
In business, time is money and you don’t want your employees to waste it doing unproductive activities. You want your business to become successful by inspiring your team members to use their time effectively.
We cannot afford to throw away those valuable hours we are given every day; since we are never going to get them back. Use these proven tips to allow yourself and the entire workforce to be more time-efficient and meet important organizational goals.
And, see how it transforms your team into a more productive and highly efficient unit.
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