The 12 Biggest Time Busters in a Business or Office

By on March 7, 2017

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Every business needs to operate at an optimum level of efficiency to be successful. This mean employees should be managing the eight hours of time they have to complete daily tasks and work on long-term projects. Unfortunately, there are numerous office time busters — tasks which eat away at an employees focused work time — which need to be addressed.

To improve time management around the office you need to identify those time busters, decide how your business operations can make necessary adjustments and then take action. We have identified the 12 most common time wasters found in the average office.

Consider how these activities might be affecting your workforce; rather than just assume they are not happening, look around and see how a few minutes here or there are being misspent. Then determine how you or your staff can make practical improvements in the use of time.  Don’t forget to ask yourself if you fall into any of these ‘time wasting’ traps..?

Top 3 Office Time Busters

1. Checking and/or Answering Emails

Recent studies have shown that checking emails may waste upto 50% of the workday. The email inbox is where time goes to get lost. When workers have email alerts on, they can spend almost 10 minutes responding and another 15 minutes to get back to work. Even if the email was work related, that is nearly half an hour wasted…gone!

Many businesses encourage emails since they are a great way to keep an electronic trail of correspondence, however, mass emails and going back-and-forth with responses can waste a lot time. Encourage your employees to check email one or two times during the day, and for a specific period of time – one time not being the first thing in the morning when you arrive at work as this tends to get individuals off schedule.

If there is something that needs to be discussed, opt for a face-to-face conversation or phone call. And ask that all personal emails be left for personal time (at lunch, before or after work, etc.).

2. Lack of Planning, Priorities and Focus

Without goals to focus on and a plan of action, employees will be left scattered, drifting and not spending time on what is most important for the business. Many will end up working on activities which are not productive and inhibit the momentum required to be effective or get things done faster.

Management needs to ensure each department understands its role in achieving company goals and each employee has a plan of action to carry them through daily tasks or projects. If it is clear to the team what is expected of them, they will have an easier time setting priorities and completing essential work.

3. Procrastination

Overall, procrastination is still one of the most common time busters, whether you are in business, college, retirement or at-home. Putting off work for later not only wastes time, but can wreak havoc on a person’s energy and thoughts from stress worrying about the things which need to be done. This stress further inhibits an employees ability to spend their time effectively and they remain in an endless cycle of procrastination.

Break out projects into smaller, more manageable tasks which can be distributed over a longer period of time. And try to encourage completing the most time-sensitive tasks first, then the difficult tasks, so the tough work is not left hanging or crammed into the final days of a project.

Other Ways Your Business Might Be Inefficient with Time

4. Surfing the Internet and Social Networking

Along with emails, personal internet use and social networking is starting to waste a lot of time dedicated for work. Don’t be fooled either, managers and business owners can be just as susceptible to spending time on the telephone or internet without any real reason or intention as regular employees.

There is no question that modern technology can provide many valuable services, however, these tools are also among the worst time busters in existence. Some companies have actually banned Internet usage during working hours. If you catch your employees on the internet, remind them that they can surf all they want on their own time, and that they should get back to work.

5. Interruptions

There are many small ways to eat up time with seemingly excusable interruptions. It may be answering the telephone, people dropping by the office, unanticipated meetings or clients. Human beings are naturally inclined to sit around and chat – and there is nothing wrong with this, not is there any reason to be rude with your clients, peers or associates – but your team members should have some rules for informing others that during certain working hours they are unavailable.

In whatever form, necessary or not, an interruption is anything that stops what you are doing and prevents you from being focused. Focus and time are lost when you allow one work project to interrupt another. Keep work projects separated, focus on one task at a time and try not to let them to interfere with each other. Set meeting times and encourage answering interruptions without taking away from the task at hand.

6. Lack of delegation

It can be a real waste of time to think only you are capable of completing every detailed task of a project. Too often managers find they have too much on their plate and having insufficient time to focus on directing other employees. Each employee could be leveraging their time by delegating tasks among the team members(by skill set or position).

7. Meetings

Meetings can be a time buster when there is no specific reason, agenda or schedule. Meetings should have a purpose; a set of tangible goals you want to accomplish, such as cross-department coordination or decision making. Before the meeting starts, set an agenda, have any additional materials (visuals, reports, etc.) prepared ahead of time, and stay focused on the task at hand.

8. Crisis management

When employees are running around like headless chickens trying to rectify emergencies or ‘put out fires’ with upset customers, they cannot focus on what is important. Work suffers an even greater lack of effectiveness when responding to urgent items as opposed to general interruptions, wasting more time when it needs to be redone.

9. Knowing when to say ‘No’

Many employees feel pressure to take on more work; unfortunately, this tends to put too much pressure on them, preventing them from working efficiently. Learning when and how to say ‘no’ will ensure less time is stolen away from assigned work. While business owners may hope employees are willing to do anything asked of them, people who don’t value their own time are likely to waste yours sometime in the future. Instead, teach employees that having the confidence to know when to say ‘no’ will save them time and peace of mind so they can perform at their best.

10. Lack of organisation and Tidiness of Personal Space

Disorganization and clutter will waste time and energy as employees attempt to sort through the mess to complete even the simplest of tasks. Some may feel bogged down just by looking at the same clutter time and again Encourage every employee to keep a clean workspace; not only will this ensure they can find the items necessary for work, but you may also reduce minor accidents or injuries This saves everyone time and money!

11. A Workforce Lacking Knowledge or Guidance

One of the issues most often cited by employees as leading to disorganization and lack of focus is the lack of education provided to newcomers. Without proper training or continual guidance and mentorship, experienced employees are burdened by having to explain procedures and demonstrate how to work various systems to new employees.

As business owners, we all know our more experienced (and higher paid) employee’s time is put to better use focusing on specialized or important tasks. Offer new employees written procedures for performing their job, and manuals for all office equipment to increase productivity and reduce wasted time. Additionally, your team may want to assign mentors to help ease the transition of employees into the team or onto new positions.

12. Not Enough Personal Time or Vacation Time

Everyone is entitled to time-off for re-energizing; without it nobody can be 100% effective at their job. Just as we discussed the problems with taking on too much work, without enough time-off, an employee’s health or focus may suffer to the point serious accidents can happen forcing them to take even more time off. Ensure each employee takes the minimum amount of vacation time required by the government, and when possible, give employees extra time to focus on their personal lives so they can come back to work focused and ready to be productive.

Time Management for the Office

Time is wasted when you don’t make the best use of the time, when you’re unclear about what you want to get out of what you’re doing and when you stray off the point and drift. To be truly effective in the use of time at work, employees and business owners need to be in a continual process of improvement.

Take a look around the office to determine how time is wasted, pick a few specific situations and define practical actions everyone can take to stem the flow of wasted time. Better time management will lead to more efficient and effective behaviors that produce even better results and increases your overall business success.

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