Productivity | July 16, 2019

Time Wasters: The Ultimate Disruptors of Workplace Productivity

Which one of the following statements is more common in your business:

“I don't have enough time to complete all tasks!” or “Wow, I can’t believe how much I got done today!”

The first statement takes precedence across businesses for reasons which we are going to explain today. Keeping track of time is a difficult task requires high-levels of focus. At the same time, humans are incapable of staying focused for extended periods of time - making manual time tracking impossible. As Benjamin Franklin said,

“You may delay, but time will not.”

Wasting time is easy. As such, we have highlighted 5-time wasters that you and your employees should be on the lookout for.

Noisy offices and chatty coworkers

Large office spaces are usually associated with noise. When a large group of people are placed into a single space, disruptions are inevitable. Wasting time becomes easy when multiple employees start discussions on topics unrelated to the work they are doing. In the absence of a manager, noisy offices become subject to productivity issues.

In smaller businesses, chatty co-workers substitute the large noisy offices. It is easy to fall behind on workload if there is a co-worker that is always trying to start a conversation with someone.

Julian Treasure, in one of his famous TED talks, revealed that when employees here other people talk in the office, their productivity drops for 66%. Distractions in offices are inevitable; However, there are measures that can be taken to get rid of such time wasters.

How to avoid distractions in the office?

Today, employees are not required to work from the office at all times. Working from remote locations has become widely acceptable thanks to various tools. Business owners and project managers have started utilizing digital management systems that help them track, and manage employees from remote locations. Among these systems are time trackers that help employers record the number of hours an employee worked from a remote location. More importantly, the mobile-oriented culture has paved the way for location tracking - allowing employers to see if the employee is the right place at the right time.

Therefore, if noisy offices and chatty co-workers are disrupting your productivity then reallocate to a coffee shop and try working from there.

Procrastination and postponement of tasks

Procrastination is an issue that we become familiar with during our teenage years. They can easily become a source of stress, demotivation, and aggravation. Unfortunately, procrastination is not a problem only teenagers face in school or college. On the contrary, it is a problem that is common in the professional world as well. There are times when it is difficult to focus, and as a remedy, employees decide to postpone difficult tasks and hunt those which take less cognitive effort. However, this does not take away from the fact that the task will have to be completed at some point during the day or week.

Procrastination can be identified as THE time waster because of its common nature. There are various factors that contribute towards procrastination, such as the feeling of being undervalued, a stringent working environment, colleagues, unreliable management and more. Each of the issues presented takes a toll on the motivation of employees. As a result, they are inclined to waste time procrastinating, rather than completing tasks of high priority.

How to help employees regain motivation?

Removing procrastination entirely is impossible. However, there are measures that can be taken by management to reduce it.

As discussed above, procrastination and lack of motivation represent two sides of an equation. Therefore, addressing one side will have an impact on the other side of the equation as well.

Studies show that procrastinators are usually unhappy, hence unmotivated. Yet, there are ways that employers can encourage employees to motivate themselves.

Encouraging Communication and Feedback

Employees can easily get lost if they are unaware of their position in the business. Communication and feedback can guide them on their progress, areas where they are good at, and flaws that they can improve. Giving employees a sense of belonging through feedback will motivate them to pursue higher levels of productivity.

Promoting Annual Leave / Vacations

According to Forbes, the average American leaves 3.2 days unspent from their annual leave. Although it can be scary to have employees of their desks for a few days, it won't have a massive impact. In fact, a study by Harvard College showed that 55% of employees from Company X confirmed that they returned to work with higher levels of energy than before the trip. This means that employees will be a lot more motivated to pursue their personal goals and those of the business

Celebrate Accomplishments

Sometimes, the best way to pull employees out of their slump is by surprising them. Practice celebrating accomplishments within the organization. Acknowledge that success is the by-product of everyone.

It is proven that positive interactions across staff members are associated with higher levels of motivation and productivity. After all, work is more enjoyable when you are surrounded by a team you like hanging out with.

Internet distractions

We have already established how difficult it is for employees to remain motivated in the workplace. Similarly, it is nearly impossible to keep them off the internet since the majority of work these days requires it.

When on the clock, social media, medium articles, and YouTube videos can be major time wasters. Spending time across these platforms will lead employees to an unproductive mindset - where tasks are pushed aside. However, what employees fail to understand is that tasks will have to complete at some point in time. Pushing tasks aside will only lead to an overwhelming to-do list that will lead employees towards a motivation slump.

Thankfully, the age of technology has provided us with solutions to such problems. Whether its time tracking tools that record internet usage or software that blocks of access to certain pages, business owners can find ways to eliminate such distractions.

How to successfully eliminate internet distractions in the workplace?

The internet is addictive, and employees need help moving away from it.

Business owners and project managers can pursue two methods to eliminate internet-based distractions.

Altering Behaviour

If your business does not have a built-in employee tracking system then it is time to consider implementing one. Certain employee management systems specialize on a single functionality; while others try to accomplish everything, from time to financial management. However, if you are not interested in investing money on complicated software than we suggest looking into specialized management systems.

Timesheets

For example, time tracking software allows system administrators, such as business owners, project managers, to track the work being accomplished by staff members. When employees know that they are being watched then they will become more aware of how they spend their time. Internet usage will significantly drop, and productivity will rise.

This is the easiest way to ensure that employees are completing the right tasks, at the right time. If they fail to do so than the project manager will know and act accordingly.

Time sinking meetings and catch-ups

Certain meetings are important, while others are purely a waste of time. Strategic meetings are essential to the growth of any business but they are not the only component to success. Dragging employees of their work environment frequently will disrupt their efficiency.

Fun fact: Did you know that there are 11 million meetings daily in the U.S. alone?

It is crucial to identify which meetings are absolutely necessary, and which ones are optional. Defining a calendar that lays out weekly or monthly meetings will help employees plan their days ahead of time - thereby minimizing losses in productivity.

Try calculating the time employees spend attending meetings and events. We strongly believe that the outcome will shock you.

Studies reported across Business Insider, Inc, BABM, and The British Psychological Society say that up to 50% of the 11 million daily meetings are a waste of time, costing the US $37 billion per year.

Unstructured emails, and never-ending virtual conversations

Everyone uses email as its primary line of communication in the workplace. Usually, mornings are dedicated to emails. However, some employees can get carried away in virtual conversations, and lose track of time. In fact, it's been found that the average American employee checks their email 36 times an hour.

Why would someone need to go through their email so many times in a single hour?

Well, as you are reading this blog, how many times have you turned attended your email notifications? Leaving a client, boss, or co-worker hanging for a while can be difficult. But emails that we receive may be from neither of them, rather they are newsletters, coupons, offerings - all of which drag employees towards internet distractions.

Across the internet, articles coin emails as the worst time waster because they tend to play with our human nature. At the end of the day, who wouldn't want to utilize a 50% discount on their favorite store?

Managers have to develop a system to manage the time spent on emails. A good way of managing emails is by defining a schedule which depicts the hours when employees can go through their email.

But what about the communication that needs to happen frequently between the team?

Today's software provides employees with easy messaging systems that are closed out to external users - meaning only those invited have access to the system. Moreover, these platforms allow employees to exchange files, links, and other work-related materials with ease.

Wasting time is easy, and everyone call fall pray to activities that disrupt their work ethic. Yet, there is a solution to every time-wasting activity. Start taking action against time wasters now because they won't disappear on their own.

This blog should have given you an overview of how to eliminate time wasters and retain high levels of productivity in your business.


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Atto is the simplest timesheet app for small and medium-sized businesses. It’s intuitive interface and carefully designed features, including time tracking, location tracking, team insights and automated timesheets help employees and managers focus on real work.

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