Stop These Major Time-Wasting Activities at Work
When I did a web search for “time wasters at work,” one of the links I clicked on returned this message:
Database Error: Unable to connect to the database: Could not connect to MySQL
Why do so many links result in a time-wasting error and a useless technoid error message?
Here’s another one, from a site I go to regularly:
Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
Please contact the server administrator, [email protected][name deleted].com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.
In addition to wasting my time by not delivering the requested information, this message had the nerve to suggest that I might have caused the problem. The time I spent going “Grrrrr” was also wasted.
Most time wasters at work fall into one of three categories: personal, organizational, and technological.
The technological ones are like the above error messages; not much you can do about them without wasting even more time.
The personal time wasters, though, are the ones you can do something about. For example, surfing the web, posting on Twitter and Facebook, playing online games, and texting friends are activities you can cut back on—if you want to.
You already know the organizational time wasters: things like too much email, meandering meetings, incessant interruptions, and noisy, distracting work environments. Some organizational time wasters are more subtle, such as working unproductively or continuing to plug on when fatigue practically guarantees errors. Even things intended to improve work efforts can become time wasters, such as an insistence on collaboration where individual work efforts may be more effective.
Still, it may be possible to lessen certain organizational time wasters, such as by setting aside specified leave-me-alone-so-I-can-concentrate times, thereby reducing interruptions. And in open-plan offices, periodically escaping to a quiet meeting room—if you’re lucky enough to have one—can reduce time lost to distractions.
To make more optimal use of your time, it may be worthwhile to track your activities for a few weeks. Keep in mind that not everything that other people view as wasted time truly is. For example, taking occasional breaks so as to remain efficient and focused is not only not wasted time, but it can actually save time. And any time you can save helps to offset all that wasted time.