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7 Methods for Beating Your Biggest Time-Wasters at Work

The fight against wasting time at work is an on-going battle. Here are seven ways you can dial up productivity and make the most of your time.

Image of a a businesswoman trying to not waste time at work

Editor’s Note: This post was submitted by guest blogger, Molly Barnes. Enjoy!

We all have days at work where it can be hard to focus on one task. Every little distraction seems to pull your focus from the tasks and duties you have to complete. Before you know it, the day is over and you have nothing to show for it. But you can beat this problem! Identifying and beating time-wasters at work is not only a great way to increase productivity, but it can make you happier in the workplace. Below, we have put together the best tips for beating time-wasters at work.

Cut Out the Commute

Your daily commute to and from work can be eating up valuable time. Sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic can take away time that could be spent working — not to mention the ever-impending stress of being late to work. Try opting for a different way to commute to work.

Maybe you can carpool with a co-worker who lives on your route. Or try public transportation as a faster and less stressful option. And a bonus: While sitting on the train or bus, you’ll have the opportunity to catch up on emails or review your big proposal.

If you try the alternative options and they bring no relief, then it may be time to explore other neighborhoods — or even other cities. Many cities offer plenty of professional opportunity with a short commute to work.

Organize Your Workspace

Too much digital clutter can become a huge time-waster. Having to sort through a maze of documents every time you look for a file can eat up valuable time and be frustrating, to boot. Nobody needs that every day. So make an effort to organize the  files and folders on your desktop with an easy-to-locate sorting system, and work from there.

Devise an organizing system you can use to sort your desktop documents and files into folders. Set up filters for your emails to help organize them as they come in. Update all of your computer software to eliminate programs that run slowly or do not offer the capabilities you need. Take control of your digital workspace and watch your daily output become more efficient.

Reduce Distractions

As tempting as it might be to chat all morning with co-workers about your weekend plans (or listen to gossip about what happened in the big meeting), it can quickly eat into your much-needed work time. The same goes for endless phone calls ringing in to your own or neighboring desks; discuss with your supervisor or IT the possibility of using an answering service to field high volumes of calls.

It can be hard to reduce distractions in some environments, especially offices with cubicles that allow/force you to listen to every conversation around you. Try using headphones at work. Some people find relief with noise-canceling headphones, which provide just enough white noise to let the brain rest and focus. Or try calming music; not only will it help you avoid the distraction of ambient sounds and conversations, but also it’s been proven that listening to music can improve productivity.

Delegate Tasks

Often, people face duties at work that encompass a range of low-value to high-value tasks. High-value tasks make a big impact on operations and require your specific skill set or expertise — handling clients and accounts, troubleshooting tech problems, etc. Low-value tasks are often tedious and require a low level of skill — running daily reports, filing, transferring files, etc.

Identify the low-level tasks in your workday and consider delegating them to others in the office who have time and bandwidth to take them on. By taking some menial tasks off your plate, you will be able to dedicate more time and energy to the work that really matters. Plus, by delegating tasks to other people, you might help educate and develop skills for a fellow employee. That way, everyone in the organization wins.

Take Care of Your Health

Injuries that occur in the workplace are commonly due to repetitive movement or posture patterns. Typing and using a mouse all day can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, and poor posture can cause neck and back problems. You might find yourself slowing down or spending increasing amounts of time away from your desk just to give your body a break.

Repetitive injuries not only cause you a great deal of pain but also, when severe enough, can start to take away valuable time in the office. Doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, and days out of the office can add up, making you less productive overall. Learn what is causing any repetitive injuries and begin working toward a way to prevent them so you can return to your former health and productivity.

Control Your Finances

When your personal finances are out of control, the resulting stress can negatively impact your work. Overall, there’s the general worry that saps your energy and distracts you from the tasks at hand. Also, the online legwork required to satisfy payment requirements can be time-consuming. Handling repeated calls from debt collectors (and the stress they cause) are even worse, sucking time away from what you need to focus on in the workplace. To eliminate this huge time-waster at work, take steps to get control over your personal finances.

Begin by creating a personal budget to get yourself on track with expenses and cash flow. Then learn your credit score and track it over time. Understand what might be hurting your credit score currently, and learn ways you can improve it. Then start to save wherever you can, and send the extra money where it needs to go. Once you’ve got a handle on your personal finances, you’ll likely feel less helpless and more empowered to take on more at work.

Ignore Social Media

Social media is probably the biggest time-waster for most people who work in an office. Checking social media apps throughout the day can eat up a tremendous amount of time. Not only is it distracting, but a simple notification can often snowball into clicking through to external websites, reading articles, or watching short videos during the workday.

Try to ignore notifications you may receive on your phone from social media. Set your phone to silence notifications (besides the ones for texts or calls from the people you need to communicate with). If you find it necessary, you can even disable your social media notifications altogether. But if you absolutely must indulge, dedicate just a few minutes, twice a day, to checking social media apps. Limit yourself to this narrow window so your check-ins don’t get out of control.

Time-wasters exist everywhere, and they’re especially noticeable at work. Between unnecessary social media distractions, monotonous tasks, and personal finance worries interfering with your professional life, they can be hard to avoid. However, by following these simple yet effective tips, you can identify and beat common time-wasters and spend a more productive day in the workplace.

About the Author:
Molly Barnes recently quit her day job and started traveling across the country with her boyfriend. She shares stories about budgeting, working remotely and traveling on her own blog

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About Andrew Tillery

Born and raised in Oregon, Andrew has now put down roots in Seattle, because he refuses to call anywhere but the Pacific Northwest home. After graduating from Portland State University with a double major in Marketing and Advertising, he spent some time learning Spanish and experiencing all that South America has to offer. It was while he was south of the equator that he uncovered an interest in writing that he strives to develop whenever the opportunity is presented. When Andrew isn't taking care of business at the office, he is throwing fuel on his fiery passions for sports and the outdoors.