If you’re like most business owners, you get to work early and often leave late. If you were honest about it, you would find that many times you didn’t get to all of the “high priority” items on your ‘to-do’ list. What is likely to have crept in were those unexpected interruptions that ended up having to be handled.
But wait…most of us account for those interruptions, when we plan our day. No one plans their tasks to take up every minute of their day. Every business owner knows that’s unrealistic. So what’s happening to us to cause us to lose time during the course of our days? Why is it that hours seem to fly by without us having accomplished the tasks that are necessary for our success?
If there were any one set of things that make us unproductive, it’s the common time wasters that we sometimes put in our schedule and treat them as if they are a mandatory part of our routine. These time wasters suck the life and passion out of our business day and sometimes drain us of the energy we need to tackle the forward moving tasks. While you could probably easily name over 100 of them if you were required to, this article will present ten (10). Thus, we’ll call this list the top 10 tasks that are wasting your time.
This can range from deleting unwanted emails to clearing out spam or even setting new Outlook rules. Designate two times for email every day. Do your best to handle each email one time. That does not mean to file it away without dealing with the substance.
Social Media: Unplanned and Un-Purposed
Without a specific business purpose or goal to be on a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter, a short visit to those sites can be disastrous to your time management practices. If you must socialize, use a social media timer or even a physical egg timer to let you know how long you spend on the site. Whether for business purposes or social purposes, designate a certain amount of time every day to be on social media.
If you are doing the copying, the printing, appointment setting and/or follow ups for your business, you are wasting a considerable amount of time every day. If you have staff, you should consider delegating all of the tasks that don’t require your expertise to complete them. If you don’t have staff and your budget is tight, consider hiring a virtual assistant.
Unplanned Phone Calls and Chats
Phone calls and IM Chats typically don’t end when you want them to. Do your best to assign them to a specific part of your day. When you get on the phone or into a chat, let the other party know that you have a certain amount of time before your next appointment. Then you will both get to the point.
This one is simple. Don’t multi-task. As it turns out, it ends up taking longer to do both tasks when you combine their work time. Finish a task and then start the next one.
Meetings with NO Agenda
It would be easy to say that meetings themselves are time wasters. That said, you should never participate in a meeting that has no agenda, scheduled time to end and/or specific goal. In particular, be careful of impromptu meetings, even if all three of those factors are in place.
Lack of Organization
When you are disorganized, you spend a considerable amount of time looking for things before you can take action on important matters. Make sure that you have a filing system that works well for you and don’t handle any document (virtual or tangible) more than once. Use your filing system for everything.
Not saying “no”
When you choose not to say no to an associate, an employee or even a family member, you are likely to end up with an even bigger dilemma later. When you choose to say yes to something that is really your refusal to say no, you are requiring time of yourself later that you probably won’t have. Make an effort to deal with difficult matters now—one time.
Procrastination is a huge time waster because you will spend energy thinking about your undone task until it is completed. Do the more difficult things in your schedule first or when you have the most energy to attack them. But always start them and complete them, because you will have a difficult time mentally, before you move on to other important aspects of your day.
Conclusion: Lack of Planning and Goals
All nine of these things are the result of a lack of understanding your goals for the day, and planning out steps to accomplish them. Often, we will take on some of these time wasters, feeling that we have time to catch up. We must not think that way.
We need to be working on trying to attain our goals for the day and use our “to-do” list or planning list to get us there. The best thing we can do to increase our success in managing our time is to set ourselves up for success. We do that by setting our goals in advance of our daily planning, and doing our daily planning in advance of our day. That will help us to default to staying focused when we would reach for one of the nine distractions listed above.