with the many time-wasting distractions~!
f you sat down to work it out, the amount of time wasted in your office would probably shock you. This doesn’t mean deliberate time-wasting – rather, the time spent doing tasks a more long-winded way than one you could be using which ends up eroding the time used productively in the office. We all know what it’s like to get frustrated over especially fiddly office tasks, so here are some ideas to make you think about the processes you use at work.
Email is renowned for being one of the biggest office time-wasters. Just when you think you’ve cleared your inbox, a new email will ping in, followed by another and another… you can set your email program to only refresh for new emails once an hour or some other period decided by you so that your emails aren’t constantly distracting you, and you can deal with multiple emails at once rather than repeatedly having to stop what you’re doing so you can address each email individually.
Another problem, again computer-related, is that of finding the right document when you need it. Many of us will admit to being a little slapdash in our computer filing systems, and if you use a central network, other people may file things in a different way to you, making them hard to find. A document management system makes it easier for you to locate things quickly and open them immediately without having to download special programs for specialist file types, speeding the entire process up and making correspondence much faster.
While much of the wasted time in most offices seems to be related to computers, there are other things which seem to demand our attention and make us less productive. Other staff can cause us real problems when we’re trying to focus on our own tasks, and constant interruptions can make it very tricky to work. Wearing headphones, even if you’re not listening to anything, can deter prospective chatterboxes if you don’t want to explicitly tell them to leave you alone.
Even our lunch and coffee runs can end up wasting more time than we might expect. Waiting in a queue around the block to get a sandwich can eat into our afternoon, and the throng of people in Starbucks can force us to arrive into the office late. Making your own food to take with you will save you time in the day and means you can enjoy more of your lunch hour without having to run back to the office forcing sushi down your throat, so a little preparation can go a long way and help you manage your time far more easily.
Anna Downing is a business productivity consultant
who advises both established and start-up companies
on effective time management and cost cutting techniques.