11 Time Wasters You Need To Stop To Boost Productivity


Have you ever seen the CareerBuilder productivity survey? It’s a list of crazy non-work time wasters employees engage in. Here’s the one that makes me laugh most:

“Employee was doing some personal grooming in the break room.”

It’s amazing how we sometimes occupy ourselves just to avoid doing any work. Sometimes, it’s not even through active avoidance of work that we end up being unproductive.

how to be more productive

According to employers who were surveyed by CareerBuilder, 75% of them believe that they lose two to three hours every day in productivity due to distracted employees. Even if you are a solo entrepreneur, you probably wonder if that level of productivity (or lack thereof) is accurate for your own workday. And I hate to tell you this, but it probably is!

So, let’s take a look at the top time wasters that might be plaguing your operation… and then see if there’s something that can be done to remedy them.

11 Top Time Wasters and How to Stop Doing Them

Whether you are a business of 1 or 100, productivity loss absolutely equates to loss of income and profit. We pulled apart the CareerBuilder survey to show you the top time wasters and offer a solution you can use immediately to avoid getting sidetracked, stay productive, and be less stressed.

1. Smartphones

When employees were asked by CareerBuilder how much time they spend on their smartphones while at work, 66% of them said they use them at least several times a day.

Solution: Silence your phone (that means no vibrate setting either) and put it out of sight. You can choose various points in the day to check your phone, but once checked, put it back out of sight!

2. Email

Do you fear that messages are stacking up and perhaps there’s something truly urgent sitting in your inbox waiting for you? Get over it!

Solution: Turn off email notifications. Then schedule time each day—multiple times a day is fine—to check your inbox and respond to emails.

3. Social Media

#CutePuppy. #FoodPorn. #MarketingFail. Don’t get me started on the number of ways in which social media—and the smartphone app equivalents—are distracting us.

Solution: Use distraction-blocking software to prevent yourself from accessing social media on your phone (which should be out of sight!!) or desktop. Or simply refrain from logging in during the day and save that for before or after office hours.

4. Snacking

Obviously, you need to eat at some point. But it’s when you start to eat for the sake of filling time and distracting yourself from work when it becomes a problem.

Solution: Follow a strict schedule for eating every day, whether you work in an office or at home. Productivity software will help.

5. Coworkers

Some coworkers want to go on a quick coffee break. Some continually pop by or message you with questions. And some are simply slacking on the job and forcing you to cover for them. Regardless of which one they are, they can all interfere with your productivity.

Solution: I’d suggest setting “office hours”, or periods of time when co-workers can’t stop by to talk. Outside of those hours, they can. This works regardless of whether you are in a big office or a virtual team worker.

6. Unruly Clients

Your clients are important. Without them, you wouldn’t be in business. But sometimes they act haphazardly and call you at 7 p.m. for an impromptu meeting or send you ten emails in a row to express what could have been said in one.

Solution: Schedule time each day to tackle client requests. Anything presented to you outside of those times is to be pushed to the next day. Your clients will treat you the way you allow them to treat you, so set reasonable boundaries.

7. Friends/Family

If you work from home, you know what I’m talking about. The “Do you want to go to lunch?”. The “Mommy, come play with me”. The “Bark! Bark! Take me for a walk now!”

Solution: Set clear boundaries for when you work, even if you’re at home, and don’t deviate from those hours.

productivity time wasters

8. Disorganization

Disorganization comes in many forms—physically, digitally, and mentally—and always comes at a price: time lost trying to get back on track.

Solution: Digitize everything and store it in one place with cloud-based software. Our team uses Dropbox to keep all of our client files and internal team files and we label everything clearly so that there isn’t any time wasted trying to find what we need.

9. Meetings

While these are a necessary part of doing business, meetings can also be utilized incorrectly and with potentially negative side effects:

  • If you have too many.
  • If there are no clear goals set.
  • If there are too many stakeholders talking over one another.
  • If you haven’t prepared.

Solution: Schedule meetings at the same time every week and schedule time in advance to prepare for them. Additionally, always have an agenda – this will keep you on track and focused.

10. Inefficient Processes

I realize that it takes time and money to get processes in order. Until that happens, however, you’re going to waste a lot of time on too-slow turnaround times and people managing tasks that could easily be automated by software.

Solution: Start small. Streamline your easier processes with software, especially for project management, accounting, and marketing.

11. Menial Tasks

There’s also the matter of spending too much time on menial tasks. I know it seems like you’re saving money if you manage your own accounting or monitor your site’s live chat, but, trust me, you’ll save money in the long run if you outsource tasks not in your wheelhouse to someone else.

Solution: Hire a freelancer to offload menial chores so you can focus on the important tasks.

If all else fails and you find that you can’t prevent these time-wasters from infiltrating your workday, remind yourself of what is at stake. A loss of:

  • Output
  • Quality in that output
  • Control over your organization
  • Client relationships
  • Morale
  • Revenue

Remember your goals and remain accountable to everyone: your employees, clients, and most importantly, your business.

Did we not mention a time waster you find yourself doing? Let us know in the comments below, and we will see if we can find a way to help you stop!

Share the knowledge!

The VirTasktic Dream Team

The team at VirTasktic is dedicated to helping small businesses increase sales and growth by providing valuable information about content marketing tools and strategies they can employ immediately in their marketing strategy.

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3 thoughts on “11 Time Wasters You Need To Stop To Boost Productivity”

  1. All true – and all were ‘activities’ I have seen everywhere I have worked. Guilty? Oh, certainly. Yet, it is interesting how some employers treat these issues: At the last place I worked, there were numerous times throughout a day when the rest of our department (5 total) would gather to have lively chats – always loud, always included the boss (!), and always lasted up to 30 minutes at a time. In the meantime, I would stay in my office (20-some steps away) and actually try to work. The issue would come up in my reviews – believe it or not, raised by my boss, about me! That I was not ‘participating’ in the ‘camaraderie’ of the department, and that it was important for ‘morale’. (Those little group chats were, apparently, also where semi-important information would get shared – no wonder I was always clueless!) I should have realized this would happen when I would complain to this same boss that the noise level was getting to be such that I had a difficult time concentrating on my work … only to be told that, “it’s not that bad; I just block it out!”

    In other matters: Item #5, “Coworkers”, 2nd paragraph, last sentence: “This works regardless of whether ‘your’ in a …..” — should be you’re or you are. Then, Item #7, “Friends/Family”: the content, and especially the photograph, are not doing justice to the topic. If someone is working from home and being paid as an employee, none of these things should ever happen. It is generally made clear that you are not to be a babysitter, etc. while working from home. You are still to be working, and you need to get a babysitter, or dog watcher, etc. to take care of those things. Of course, if you are an entrepreneur, do whatever you want! You are your own boss, it won’t matter. Oh, wait … it MIGHT affect your bottom line. But that’s just me.

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