Five Ways to Stop Wasting Time and Take Back A Day A Weekby Tiffany Crosby on 07/13/12
If you could get more done each week without putting in more hours in the office, would you? You probably answered, of course, I would. But I’m not so sure. Did you know that wasting 1.5 hours each day equates to about 8 hours per week or one work day? Now, you may find it hard to believe that you waste 1.5 hours a day. In my time management class, I go over at least 10 time wasters that most of us are guilty of doing on a pretty regular basis. Today, I’m going to share 5 of those time wasters. After reading over these give time wasters, I challenge you to think about the impact of eliminating these from your day. Just think about what you could do with an extra day a week. What goals could you accomplish? What books might you finally be able to read? What training classes might you finally be able to take? As summer whizzes by like a lightning bolt, I hope that you will take the time to make time for all those things in your life that just continue to remain undone. With that, here’s to the first five time wasters we’ll review this summer:
1. Impromptu team lunches – team bonding is a wonderful thing and sharing a meal together is a great way to do it. However, when these lunches are done on a whim, they waste a significant amount of time. I dare to you to track how many minutes are lost confirming who all is going, deciding where you’re going, deciding what time you’re going to meet, and then changing it all when the selected location has too long of a wait. The more people involved, the more time lost.
2. Impromptu brainstorming sessions – getting different perspectives on issues and brainstorming ideas to solve problems is a critical element of innovation and contributes to a healthy work environment. And, because we are people of action, we naturally want to convene and talk things out as a first step. However, without proper planning, these sessions are often unfocused and unproductive. The problem often hasn’t been clarified sufficiently and it’s likely that all the right people aren’t even in the room. So we go away having, at best clarified the problem, but more likely having generated questions that need answered so that people have the information they need to brainstorm effectively. We get the answers, and reconvene, and go through the same process with a few additional people in the room. This process may repeat itself several times before we actual accomplish the original objective of the brainstorming session. It doesn’t need to be this way, effective planning up front could eliminate this cycle. Know what you want to accomplish before convening the meeting and know what information will be necessary to achieve that goal. Anything that can be done in advance, do. Anything that can be shared in advance, share.
3. Recurring (Standing) meetings – it’s on the calendar, so we are going to have this committee meeting or team meeting or whatever. We may have to be creative on the agenda, especially if there isn’t much going on; so we waste time thinking of what to even put on the agenda. And attendees waste time trying to figure out what update that are going to give this time. They have to say something because it’s expected of them. No real action occurs at the meeting but it’s considered a good meeting because you got through the agenda. Take a look at the recurring meetings on your calendar and ask yourself which ones would impact your business if you didn’t hold them. Eliminate the others and stop making up agenda items for the ones you keep. If there’s nothing to cover, move on. If there are no decisions to be made and no important developments to share, don’t create something for the sake of an agenda item. Cancel the meeting. Challenge the frequency and make sure you are leveraging technology to share what needs shared with the team.
4. Paper shuffling – Rereading emails, letters, or other documents because we failed to act on it the first time or then 2nd time or maybe even the 3rd time is a huge waste of team. This is procrastination central for most people. You have a message that you just don’t want to communicate, so you put off responding to the email. There’s too much work involved in responding right now, so you just close it out instead of challenging how you may be able to delegate it or at least adding a tickler to your calendar so that it’s now assigned a time slot that is more convenient. Or it’s something you really want to read as soon as you have the time so you leave in your email but don’t really have a strategy as to when you might read it. Instead, print it out and add to your read pile for long car rides, or long afternoons spent at swim meets or cheer competitions, or other places where you have idle time.
5. Wheel spinning – you spend hours researching and studying trying to find that one elusive thing on the internet that is going to answer your question. You refine your search multiple times only to get hundreds of hits. You look through the most promising ones, only to be disappointed. Instead, learn to leverage your networks to help get to the answer more quickly.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog where we will explore another 5 time wasters that will help you take back a day week. You can comment on this blog or go to Petra’s Facebook page at
(https://www.facebook.com/pages/Petra-Learning-LLC/120474568065099). Join the conversation.
The overall foundation of this is that God expects us to be good stewards of the resources that he has given us. Consider the parable of the talents. He expects us to use those talents wisely. Time is one of the resources and time management helps us put that resource to good use. Also consider the lessons within The Proverbs 31 Women – Wise Steward of Time and Ecclesiastes 3 – a time for everything. While we do not know how much time has been allotted to us, we do know that each minute we have, once spent cannot be reacquired.