Do you feel like there isn’t enough time to get things done or perhaps the amount of work that you must complete is way beyond the number of hours you have to get it done? If yes, then you are not the only one who feels that.
Time is always precious and each of us gets only a certain amount of it to do what we are supposed to do, whether that is running a business, working on a job, or just being a student. Wasting time deliberately would be the last thing on someone’s mind while they are working hard to get things done on time. But is that working for you? Do you believe you are truly as productive as you could be? If so, then you are one from the efficient lot who constitutes a tiny minority, unlike the rest who never seem to get enough time to take care of their businesses. But have you ever wondered that maybe it is not that you have insufficient time or have more work than you could do in that time, but perhaps you are simply using your time inefficiently?
You might feel the need for an extra hour or two to get things done, but in reality, you just need to get rid of what they are known as the time wasters. Although none of us can afford to waste time, we have allowed these time wasters to creep into our daily lives which are responsible for restraining us from doing the productive work.
If your phone keeps ringing all day long with different alerts, then this should not come as a surprise for you. Every time your mobile phone announces a Facebook comment, a Whatsapp message, or a new email, you probably reflexively reach for it to see what is happening. This not only breaks your concentration but also distracts you from what you were doing. You know that those alerts are not urgent nor are they any critical to your business or job, yet they tend to gobble away most of the time.
While yes, some of the emails and text messages may be important, but that does not mean you must check your phone every now and then. Most of the times if there is an urgent matter that needs your attention, then the other person would directly call you up rather than wait for you to respond by an email or text.
Don’t let these distractions interrupt your day and more importantly your nights. Use the functionality of Settings in your phone and turn off all kinds of distracting notifications. I understand you may require email notifications as they may be pertaining to your business, and hence you should simply reduce the frequency of notifications. Instead of getting a buzz every time a new email pops up, let it announce once every 4 hours or 6 hours so that you can get through with most of the work without unnecessary interruptions.
Emails are another of the biggest time sinks that take away most of your time. While constantly checking your personal email is a definite no, checking your work inbox frequently won’t be doing any great favors as well. We usually consider checking email as doing work, which might be only true just 10% of the times. It is very easy to get lost in the overwhelming inbox where you might be receiving hundreds of emails every day. While you might feel the urge to respond to the unopened message and get a cleaner inbox, it creates a false sense of urgency making us check our inbox more frequently. It is important to realize that this small sense of accomplishment comes at the expense of real work.
Most of the emails usually don’t require your immediate attention, and you can always go through them once you have completed the task in your hand. There was a study conducted by Microsoft in 2007 where they found that it took almost 10 minutes for people to respond to an email once they got the alert, and another 15 minutes to get back to what they were doing. This was because the moment they checked the new email, they got lost in responding to other emails as well which took them a lot longer to get back to their tasks.
One of the best ways to deal with this is to train yourself to check your inbox specific times of the day unless you are awaiting an important email. If you decide to check your email at the start of your day, then allow at least 2-3 hours to pass by before you check it again. Also, make sure you are unsubscribed from the newsletters and email marketing sites in which you are not interested. This will bring down the amount of emails that land up in your inbox. You can also make it stringent for yourself by keeping your email in offline mode, so that only when you are online once again would you receive the emails.
Although meetings are supposed to be productive and bring some conclusion to the discussion, that rarely happens so. Most of the meetings that we attend are many times not necessary or maybe don’t require everyone in attendance to actually join the meeting. Can you recollect the times when the meetings have been fruitful and led to something groundbreaking? I am sure it would have been a just handful of times. Most of these meetings could have been handled with a few correspondences or a quick phone call and there are a dozen other for which if you would have received a short summary to stay up-to-date would have done the job.
Another set of meetings are the ones with no agendas or are last minute meetings. Most of these meetings just take up unnecessary time from the whole team’s schedule and prevent you from doing the real work. If possible, try and get rid of these unnecessary meeting or if they are necessary then have a well-defined agenda so that no one veers from it and the meeting gets concluded well in time. If things can get clarified from just a group chat, then you should do that rather than set up a meeting.
While social media and several other websites are good sources of information as well as entertainment, you must refrain using it during work hours. That is the reason why some of the workplaces have these website blocked during a certain time of the day on their network because the moment you are on these sites, in the blink of an eye you would have spent an hour or more doing something that is not at all productive. The best policy is to keep yourself away from these websites during the day and access only when you are done with your tasks. If it is difficult for you to stay away from these sites then you may want to start using applications like StayFocused, which is a Chrome app and SelfControl, which is for Mac that restricts your usage to only certain time lengths.
These are just a few major ones that take up your time, but there are many other time wasters that bring down your productivity. So, now that you know what is taking up your time, make an effort to get rid of these time wasters and increase your productivity by focusing on your work. Do this and you will realize that you never needed an extra hour to finish your job, but in fact, you always had some extra time which you can now decide how you want to use it.
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