“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us” ~ J R R Tolkien

In business and in daily life, the one thing we probably complain about the most is Time, or rather the lack thereof.  We are all guilty of wasting time during the day and then we wonder why we use these phrases far too often, sometimes on a daily basis: 

  • How am I suppose to do it, there is simply not enough time in the day?
  • What do I spend my time on?
  • Tell me how I could be more productive
  • Time really flies!
  • I am too busy ….
  • If I had time, I would do a lot more during the day.

Many time-wasters rob us of productive time on a daily basis.  For this reason, let us look at some classic ones that we encounter at work.

1.  Constantly Checking Emails

Emails are distracting at the best of times and as a consequence, constantly checking emails is futile to productivity.  Set a timeslot(s) aside during the day to check and answer emails, such as first thing in the morning and early afternoon could be desirable.  If an email is urgent, the sender will phone you.  Alternatively, you could ask your PA to monitor your inbox and alert you of any email that require your immediate attention.

2.  Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking dilutes your concentration, yes, even for the best multi-tasker.  Be a uni-tasker, do one thing at a time and do it properly.  This approach will save you time, frustration (and probably money).

3.  Inability to say No (thank you)

As much as you would like to help everybody, you need to learn (early in our career) to say No.  If you do not, you will end up bogged down with work that may not necessarily be your responsibility.  Remember:  today’s favour becomes tomorrow’s obligation.  A polite way to say No is “Unfortunately I cannot assist you but thank you for asking.”

4.  Aiming for Perfection

Nobody is perfect and that includes you.  Spending time on doing something that is perfect for you is probably not perfect for someone else.  Do your best and move along. 

5.  Deciding on trivial tasks

Do the important things: the things that you are good at, that makes you money and outsource the rest.  Accept that you cannot do everything.  Delegate.  You need to trust others to do what you pay them to do.

6.  Distractions

Many distractions cheat you out of productivity.  Put your cellphone on silent, close your emails completely, divert your office phone, close your office door or hide in a boardroom.  You will be surprised at how much work you can get done without distractions.

7.  Having no system or action plan

A goal without a plan is just a wish.  If you do not tell your time where to go it will go everywhere you do not want it to go.  Work according to a system and have an action plan and most importantly, follow your plan.

8.  Unnecessary meetings

Meetings:  where minutes are kept, and hours are wasted.  A meeting that lasts longer than 45 minutes is more than often a waste of everyone’s time.   “Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious that you are not adding value.  It is not rude to leave; it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.” ~ Elon Musk.

9.  Having no time boundaries

It is imperative to have a time deadline for your tasks; otherwise, you plod along and nothing gets finished.  Always include a time boundary in your action plan.

10.  Disorganisation

Write a To-Do list and tick tasks off as you complete it.  It may be ambitious to think that you will be able to finish all tasks in one day.  Should you not finish all the tasks on the day, write the unfinished tasks on top of the list for the next day and deal with those first.  It is a great way of relieving stress, organising and decluttering your mind.

11.  Using tools inefficiently

No matter how hard we try, we can not be as proficient with a computer program (such as MS Word or Powerpoint) as an experienced PA usually is.  Instead of spending valuable time trying to prove a point, delegate the task to someone who is. Rather used that time to work on strategic plans for your business. Why waste your valuable time trying to do everything yourself?

12.  Comparing yourself to others

Accept the fact that you are unique, like everyone else.  Stop comparing yourself to others and do what you do best:  be you.