Did you know that in a recent survey, more than 89% of American workers admitted that they waste time at work? Of those people, 31% said that they wasted an hour of time each day. A further 26% said they wasted two hours or more.
That’s a lot of time wasted, but it’s not all spent on Facebook or googling cat memes. Sometimes, the time we waste is spent responding to requests that might be better answered by someone else. Sometimes it’s trying to manage all of our tasks and being unsure where to start. Sometimes it’s setting up meetings or chasing down that one person whose input you need to do your job.
Here are a few productivity challenges we believe many workers face, and how to reduce the amount of time you spend dealing with them.
Inundated by Email?
How much time do you spend dealing with email? A recent study showed that white collar workers spend more than 6 hours a day checking email; 3.5 of those hours are spent on work emails and the rest are personal emails. Workers are checking personal email when they’re at work, and they’re checking work emails during their off hours.
Unless your job title is “Email Wrangler,” that’s a crazy amount of time to spend on email. Fortunately, there’s a better way.
Here at Tolar Systems, we are big proponents of a system called Inbox Zero to manage our email. With Inbox Zero, the goal is to keep your email inbox empty. Using this system, we only check email at certain times of the day – maybe a short time in the morning, and again in the afternoon. A minimal amount of time is spent processing those emails, determining whether to delete, delegate, defer, respond or do whatever is being requested. It allows us to streamline how we handle emails and really cuts down on the time we spend on what is often not a productivity-enhancing task.
Perplexed by Priorities?
If you’re like most workers in any American office, you are juggling a variety of projects and tasks at any given time. It can be difficult to determine which projects and tasks take priority on any given day. This can negatively impact your productivity.
Fortunately, there’s technology that can help. One tool we like at Tolar Systems is Asana, an online project management tool that allows you to convert emails into projects and tasks, assign tasks and projects to teams and individuals, set and track deadlines, and a lot more.
How do we use Asana? We use it extensively in our marketing department to keep track of ongoing projects (such as this blog). We use Asana for our blog editorial calendar, to manage development and creation of our marketing materials, and to track other projects large and small. Asana allows us to adapt to shifting priorities, communicate changes and ideas, and delegate, defer or do our tasks with ease.
Hunting For Help?
One of the biggest time-wasters is when your projects stalls out waiting for input from someone, but you are having trouble getting on their calendar. Fortunately, there’s an app that can help with that, too.
Here at Tolar, many of us subscribe to Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Workweek approach (not that we actually work 4 hours a week, but we do like to save time where we can!). Part of his approach is to reduce the time spent on tasks like scheduling, that accomplish little but tend to take up a lot of time. That’s why we use a tool called ScheduleOnce to help schedule meetings with coworkers and clients. This reduces the time that we spend on trying to chase down people to get time on their calendar.
We wrote a blog post about how we use ScheduleOnce to improve our productivity, we hope you’ll check it out.
We all have those things we spend too much time on, or unproductive tasks we can’t seem to avoid. But fortunately, we live in an age where technology and systems can help us reduce the amount of time we waste.
What are your biggest time wasters at work, and how do you deal with them? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.