Monthly Archives: August 2018

10 Time Wasters and How to Eliminate Them Immediately

There’s a quote by author Bernard Clive, that goes, “We don’t manage time, we manage activities within time.”

He hit the nail on the head with this quote.

Very often, we see people talking about time management and the truth of the matter is that you can’t manage time for the sheer fact that it keeps passing no matter what you do.

The best way to get the most out of the time that you have is to be as productive as possible.

By reducing unnecessary time wasters and focusing on actual work instead of merely being busy, you’ll not only get more work done, but you’ll find yourself with more free time too.

In this article, we’ll look at 10 time wasters that creep up on you without you even realizing it.

Eliminate them and your life will become much simpler and more focused.

1) Indecision

Make a plan and stick with it.

If you’ve decided to complete a certain task, do not keep thinking if you should work on another task first.

Finish what you decided to do.

By being decisive, not only will you save mental energy, but your work will be more focused, and you’ll get the job done faster.

2) Not Saying No

It’s very common to have colleagues try to dump their little jobs on you.

The general reasoning is that it’s only a small, quick task and they’re really crunched for time. Since it’s easy and you’re so helpful, it shouldn’t be a problem.

If it happens occasionally, it isn’t an issue.

But if you have a problem saying no, and people start taking advantage of your kindness, all the little tasks will add up and you’ll be bogged down.

Always complete your tasks first and assess if you have time to do the odd favor or two.

If you can’t, always say no and tell your colleagues that you just don’t have the time.

3) Focusing on Easy Tasks

Another common mistake is to keep finishing off the smaller tasks because they’re easier.

As a result, the bigger and more important ones are neglected and by the time you get to them, there’s barely enough time to give them the attention they need.

Always prioritize and finish the most important tasks before tackling the rest  no matter how time consuming they may seem.

Do first what you don’t want to do most. The rest of the less important work can be rushed later.

4) Lack of Concentration

When you’re working on one thing, keep that the main thing.

Avoid multitasking or taking several short breaks to check your social media, etc.

Concentrate for about 50 minutes and take a 5 or 10-minute break after that.

These short breaks will give your mind a brief rest and you can work for longer periods without getting exhausted.

5) Interruptions

Phone calls, text messages, colleagues dropping by your cubicle/office to make small talk, etc. are all interruptions.

Minimize them and you’ll get more work done.

6) Perfectionism

Once a job is done and you give it the once-over and it all seems fine, move on to the next task.

Do not nitpick and try to keep improving the on current one while you aim for perfection.

There is no such thing as perfection.

7) Reinventing the Wheel

If you’ve been doing a certain task one way for ages, don’t suddenly try to change it up. Do what works.

Very often, in organizations and companies, countless meetings result in new changes to existing protocols every month or so.

While it’s done in the name of ‘improvement’ and ‘streamlining’, very often, more problems arise because people take time to get used to the new way of doing things.

There’s a period of trial and error… and just when they’re getting into the swing of things, suddenly there’s a new way of doing things… and it’s back to square one.

So, plan your tasks wisely once and make sure your actions are effective.

Once you get into the habit, do not keep changing your patterns or workflow.

8) Unnecessary Planning

Having one to-do list with a plan of action should suffice.

All you need to do is work the plan. Do not have plans on your calendar, plans on your laptop, plans on your refrigerator, etc.

Over-planning leads to confusion and too many points of reference. One plan – work it. That’s all you need.

9) Constantly Answering Emails

Set aside blocks of time dedicated to specific tasks.

Instead of clearing emails throughout the day as and when they come in, set an hour aside to clear all emails.

After that, get back to the other tasks.

10) A Never-ending To-Do List

If you have a list of things to do, complete them first.

If any new things come in, put them on a new list. Unless a task is extremely important, do NOT add it on your current list.

Clear one to-do list first before moving on to the next one.

If you do a little from one list and a little from another, before you know it, you’ll have 5 lists with incomplete tasks on each one… or one list with so many things to do that just looking at it intimidates you.

Observe these 10 points and eliminate these time wasters from your work day. What gets measured, get managed.

Always check your productivity and streamline things until you’re highly efficient.
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

How To Minimize Distractions And Interruptions In 6 Key Areas

As if life is playing a joke on everyone, there always seem to be too much to do and too little time to do them.

No only does the fear of not doing enough can cause stress, it can be a source of anxiety as well.

And while you are struggling with that mountain of tasks to complete by the end of the day, you are being bombarded with distractions and interruptions like being in the middle of a hail storm… without shelter!

While little things like checking your phone for unread messages from the group chat about football, these minutes can really add up in one day. Let alone a week or a month.

The most time-wasting areas of everyday life can be narrowed down to 6 key areas.

  1. Digital interruptions
  2. Visitors
  3. Noise
  4. Breaks
  5. Entertainment
  6. Waiting

And here’s some ideas on how to make the most of them… or exterminate them altogether.

1) Digital interruptions

There was a period of time when people were not distracted by the constant alerts from mobile phones. Those were the days when people can give you their full attention no matter how boring you are.

I am lucky enough to experience some of that.

The modern world these days is anything but that. I swear. I just walked past a table of friends earlier. And all of them were fixed on their mobile devices as if in a trance. I bet they might even be messaging each other instead of actually talking to each other.

Technology advancement has made the world a chaotic place to live in.

  • emails
  • instant messages
  • group chats
  • social media feeds
  • updates
  • selfies
  • etc

You name it.

While you might secretly enjoy the connectivity of mobile data and trying upload a filtered picture of yourself on Instagram now, you’d probably agree that these distractions can be a real drag on your work.

You know… the stuff that actually pays you a monthly salary?

If you recognize that this digital monster is a problem, here are some ways to manage it.

  • Set aside a time to make calls and send emails in batches
  • Don’t feel a need to respond to messages and emails immediately
  • Only respond to messages during lull period of time
  • Turn off sound notifications while on the job
  • Avoid making phone calls when possible and send emails or text messages instead

I love the social aspect of the electronic world. But when it clashes with my productivity, I feel a little guilty.

Look at it this way. Socializing can be done at any time of the day. Even at night and the wee hours of the morning. While you usually will not be able to shift your mind towards work outside office hours.

So why not give your job the full attention it deserves during office hours… when you are supposed to be working anyway…

2) Visitors

One of the big time-killers is the arrival of an unexpected visitor.

How else are you going to respond when a family member, colleague, or even your boss walks into the room for a “short” conversation.

I must say… that I’ve probably wasted as much as a dozen hours in the current month for conversations with people who came to me just to communicate information that can be done via email.

And those information can be digested within 5 minutes!

Yes. Sometimes the social aspect of communication can add value to life. But you can always socialize after work. Don’t let it be a scrooge of leaving you with unfinished business during the day.

  • Tell impromptu visitors that you have a lot on your hands while remaining polite but firm
  • Hide under the desk as soon as you see them coming
  • Act busy as if world peace is in your hands today
  • Give them no place to seat by placing documents and folders on empty chairs
  • Put on headphones so that people would think that you too busy enjoying your music

Don’t forget that you must make a judgment call on whether there is something really important to discuss in person.

Maybe a subordinate is suicidal. Or maybe your wife is upset that you forgot the anniversary again. Some issues really need to be attended to in person.

3) Noise

The easiest way to get distracted is by sound. That is without considering the cover shot on Playboy magazine for men.

Do you remember a time when you were so focused at a report and fully in the grove of things. Then something went “BANG!” outside. And you are unable to find you mojo again?

I can recall a few of these incidents myself.

This is an easy one to rectify. 😀

  • Use noise canceling headphones
  • Erect sound proof walls or dividers
  • Use a white-noise machine
  • Walk out and word at another place

Sometimes noise happens on an ad-hoc basis. You should be smart enough to recognize what is one-off and whats not.

I find closing the door adequate enough for a peaceful working environment in the office.

4) Break time

In some companies, it is compulsory to go for break time. Failing which could cause a revolt in HR.

I love breaks. Who wouldn’t love them? Smokers especially, live by them.

Yet sometimes we treat break times like the bell going off in college. Igniting an instinct to run off with all you’ve got in the tank.

The thing is that often times, 15-minute breaks can trigger lethargy. Interrupting the working trance you proudly got yourself into earlier.

Too many of them, or having them too often is detrimental to your productivity.

  • Only go for breaks if you can finish whatever you are working on at the moment
  • Take a power nap during the break
  • Indulge in yourself during break time
  • Don’t spend more time than what the official break time allows

I’m not saying strike them off your schedule. Hey… your coffee needs to be topped up after all.

5) Entertainment

Television is more addictive than cocaine. Not that I’ve tried tried the latter.

But how many times have you spent an hour and half on a movie and decided that it’s a complete waste of your time.

You were not entertained at all. Even worse… you paid for the cable subscription. Imagine that. Paying for non-entertainment… What an irony.

I’ve been, and still is a TV lover. But how you go about your unconditional love towards the box should be managed.

  • Use recording
  • Don’t channel surf
  • Only watch shows that you know is good entertainment
  • Let friends, family and colleagues inform you of what are the best show to watch
  • Commit to a day a week to no TV
  • If a show is sitting on the hard drive for over a month and you could not fin time to get it watched… DELETE

I don’t know if this is off topic. But I find Chromecast an amazing gadget to have at home. 😀

6) Waiting

If I could add up all the time I’ve spent waiting this week, it’ll probably be at least 10 hours.

This include time spent waiting for:

  • Tables at restaurants
  • Stuck in traffic
  • Appointments
  • and more…

While there’s little you can do to shorten these waiting times, you can still make the most of the waiting time.

Why let that time go to waste anyway. It’s totally in your control.

  • Listen to an audio program to pick up a new skill
  • Read
  • Meditate with breathing exercises
  • Finally reply to your messages and emails
  • Update your to-do list… not update your social status…

On a final note, remember that focus is the key to great time management. If you can focus and get things done right the first time, you are already at an advantage compared to regular Joes.

And to enhance your focus, eliminating distractions and managing interruptions plays a key role.