The Biggest Time Wasters Aren't Just Employees

Get the Memo: The Biggest Time Wasters Aren’t Just Employees

(Image: Thinkstock)
(Image: Thinkstock)

There’s always a lot of talk about time.

Time is money …

There’s never enough time in the day …

If I could turn back the hands of time …

I don’t know about you, but it always seems as though time flies, leaving a bottomless pit of having the current day’s work carry into tomorrow… and the next day… and the next. Some will say this is solely the employee’s fault, having wasted time on social media or mismanaged the eight or more hours they’re paid to work. But I came across some interesting and eyebrow-raising stats that support what I’ve thought all along: Things that seem to be workplace norms employees should just put up with are actually the biggest time wasters:

According to stats, employees say the biggest leeches of productivity include meetings (47%), office politics (43%) and fixing others’ mistakes (37%). (See infograph here.)

I think all three of the above are all too common in today’s workplace, with many managers seeking ways to either minimize or get rid of these issues altogether. As a professional who has managerial duties, I can attest to the challenge of finding ways to avoid the above by doing the following:

  • Be concise and strategic while presenting information or concerns in meetings. What’s really important on the agenda? Do I really need to mention that secondary issue that has the possibility of turning into a 30-minute debate or discussion? Are there things I can wait to talk one-on-one with people about, rather than bring it up among the whole staff? Can I be short yet include important details in my communication? Are there time-saving ways to utilize email or other technology to get things done?
  • Stick to the YOU and the NOW. Sometimes office politics are hard to avoid, and they can even be a healthy part of career advancement. However, again, one must be strategic. If efforts to position oneself for advancement are causing more work or conflict than they’re worth, maybe it’s time to rethink approach or the strategy as a whole. Also, taking care of what’s already on your plate first (rather than what you’d like to take on in the future to ensure advancement) should be a priority. Some workers are so busy thinking about the position they want to have that they forget the one they’re responsible for now. (Oh, and leave the jealousy and bitterness at the door. So what your coworker was able to brown-nose her way into a promotion. Focus on yourself, your purpose and your career path.)
  • Have foresight and quickly nip things in the bud. I’m not a fan of having to fix mistakes that are not my own. Some things we should be able to foresee as being a potential problem or hindrance to productivity. It’s good to put protocol in place to be ready if plans A, B, or C don’t work out. Also, when it comes to managing others, I’ve found it best to be as clear and direct with instructions as possible, and have the same approach to critique as well. Maybe there isn’t room for third and fourth chances, and sometimes one has to be conscious of people’s strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly.
  • Cut off extra BS at the onset. Someone once described me as shrewd when it comes to this, but I’ve learned the hard way that being too passive about some things can welcome drama and nonsense, which have no place in business or the workplace. By drama and nonsense, I’m referring to personal responses to professional situations. These include holding grudges, having petty vendettas, participating in back-and-forth email exchanges, accommodating diva attitudes, and returning argumentative digs. Don’t even give it life. Find a way to either avoid potential issues or directly address your intolerance as soon as you see it coming. You don’t have to be mean about it. Diplomacy is key, and sometimes silence is the best response. Letting things linger or even putting up with unnecessary BS will only add to the mess, and none of us have time for that.

What’s your biggest concern when it comes to distractions or time wasters? #Soundoff and follow me on Twitter @JPHazelwood.