The scenario of wasted workplace time is even worse than before. We all have the same 24 hours, 1440 minutes, and 86,400 seconds in a day. It is our actions, however, that makes the difference. Some use them wisely, while others waste it haphazardly.
Maybe a Facebook status update here, or a Tweet there, or finding perfect kitchen décor idea on Pinterest, or deleting the spam folder – there are several ways where directly or indirectly people waste a lot of time. Most of the private sector jobs are technology driven and you cannot undermine the use of computers or the internet to accomplish daily tasks at work. This, by the way, brings a lot of distractions. The speed at which people miss deadlines and lose on productivity brings humongous pressure not on their shoulder but on their health too. Excessive fear of not meeting the work deadlines and falling behind can lead to increased blood pressure and other chronic diseases. On World Hypertension Day it is essential to address the issue of time-wastage at work that can have an impact on your health too.
Time-wastage at work results in people being late with their daily chores. And, nobody is impressed by a latecomer – be it late at work, late for a movie, late for an event – nothing is permissible in today’s fast world. In fact, if you go with the present trends, then being on time is considered a little late. Being late is super-late and arriving early is on time. People have started addressing the issue of time wastage at work and its repercussions on human health. Running behind on a TAT can lead to hypertension and exhaustion, and that’s the reason why losing time at work is a big NO-NO.
But how much time do people waste at work? Online shopping, news, and social networking sites are the biggest contributors that engage people during the day. On an average, most people utilize 60% or less of available work time, which means that we all are productive only on 3 days out of 5 every week.
The top 5 of time-wasting activities at work are: checking unnecessary emails, attending unimportant meetings, useless browsing online, commuting to work, and procrastination. People at work receive about 30-40 business emails in a week on an average, and they spend about 15 minutes in refocusing and replying every incoming mail. This is the reason why experts advise dedicating a time slot to go through all your emails and segregating them in accordance to importance.
People also spend a lot of time inside office pantries and cafeterias. On an average, about 30 minutes are spent on lunch, 15 minutes on coffee breaks and 5 minutes on those five-six trips to the water cooler with your pals. Add 30 minutes of checking emails in a day, an hour on social media and news. All these totals to approx. 2 hours daily. Imagine all that time that could’ve been applied to productive work!
So, what should be the DOs and DON’Ts to make it a good, productive workday and avoid time wastage?
Here are some factors that you can practice:
- Always check important emails. Don’t check them right after receiving them. Dedicate a time slot where all your work emails get sorted, replied or forwarded. Make it an early habit, probably just after you settle in your workstation.
- Create ‘airplane mode hours’ where you turn off internet connection, so that irritating news pop-ups cannot disturb you. This will also curb your habit of reading the daily news at work.
- Before attending any meeting find out the agenda, so that you’re not a part of any inefficient discussion.
- Do not delay complicated tasks and go for the least pleasant task first. The early you ‘eat the frog’ the quicker you’ll finish easier tasks.
- Use the Pareto Principle, i.e. focusing on the 20% of tasks that return the most benefit. By this, you can prioritize your work and manage tasks firsts with a clear goal.
- Set short 60-90 minute deadlines for each task. Tasks without milestones are like shooting an arrow in the dark.
The excessive loss of time can be improved by creating office atmosphere where people love to work. Seamless communication, transparency at tasks-on-hand, and integration of feasible technology are some of the areas where teams can benefit. A lot of startups, enterprises, and organizations working in fully furnished offices in posh business districts and IT parks, understand the importance of time management at work. No matter what social media/internet policy set up at work, the important thing to remember from an employer’s perspective is to make it clear and consistent. If employees understand what’s allowed and what isn’t, many problems are minimized or eliminated. With effective time-management skills, even problems like hypertension can be easily harnessed and you’d see and work with healthier people around.