Executive Coaching Articles

Stop Wasting Time

Would you like to gain more than two hours of productivity each day without working longer hours?

It’s simple. Stop wasting your time.

According to a survey by AOL and Salary.com, the average American admits to wasting more than two hours a day while at work.

Think about how you manage your time and the things that distract you from doing your job. Are you guilty of any of the following?

  • Personal Internet use
  • Socializing with coworkers
  • Conducting personal business
  • “Spacing out”
  • Running errands

Those were the major time-wasters listed by the survey’s 10,000 respondents.

Obviously, socializing with your colleagues is important and getting away from your desk or computer can help you refresh, clear your thoughts and make you even more productive.

When my clients ask me for ways to make the best use of their time at work, I suggest they (1) look for ways to reduce interruptions and (2) do a better job of managing their email.

  1. Interruptions Steal Precious TimeDid you know the average worker experiences fifty interruptions a day? These are phone calls, people stopping by your office, and so on. Some are these interruptions are work-related, of course, but many are time-wasters.

    The first step to reducing interruptions is to recognize them. I tell my clients to keep a journal on their desks to record them. Jot down things like “Jim called to schedule Saturday’s golf game, 5 minutes” or “Tamara stopped by talk about Ken’s retirement party, 10 minutes.”

    Then, after a few days, take a look at your list. How many of these interruptions involve your work priorities? How can you reduce or eliminate those that don’t?

    One approach may be not answering your phone or keeping your door shut from nine until 11 a.m. each morning. I had a client change the position of his desk so it didn’t face the doorway. If a colleague is a chronic interrupter, you might say, “I’m up against a deadline, Ed. Let’s talk about the football game over lunch, okay?”

  2. Managing Your EmailInstead of letting your email/blackberry control you, you need to control it. Marissa Peterson, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Operations at Sun Microsystems, oversees more than 2,000-person staff and receives 300 emails a day and she deals with every single message. Her inbox is completely empty every day. She gets in control of it by only checking it twice a day (morning and at night).

    Here are the key tips on managing email:

    1. Reply to, file or discard every email.
    2. Discipline yourself to keep your email inbox empty.
    3. Dump as much as you can.
    4. Address immediately any action that will take less than two minutes.
    5. Group actions that will take more than two minutes into an “Action” folder.
    6. Select certain times during the day to check all your messages at once.
  3. Consider Going “Cold Turkey”
    If you’re an email “addict,” consider going “cold turkey” at least one day a month. Set your auto-responder to inform people you are in the office, but are taking a day off email. If it’s urgent, ask them to call or stop by.