Four Common Time Wasters

time managementThis week I ran into a lot of time wasters.  Not only things that I do myself but things that others bring upon me.  I started a collection of the most common time wasters that I encounter in a typical day.

Internet browsing

- If you find yourself randomly surfing the Internet.  This can be a huge time waster and if you find your always looking for extra time to get important stuff done consider your random Internet surfing.  Sometimes setting a timer to limit your surfing can help control this favorite time waster.

Reading email

- This topic has been blogged about a lot but it is so true.  Take a look at your email program and see how often your checking email.  If your not a time sensitive email checker then make that time above 15 minutes.  Try changing it to say 45 to 60 minutes.  You will find that the lack of notification won't be missed and you will gain time to do other more pressing work like blog.

Outside interruptions

- I work in a cubical I get a lot of walkups.  As a support person I expect a certain amount of interruptions.  Just because I am a support person, have a cubical and an open door policy should not be an open invitation for everyone to interrupt me.  Nowadays I must put a chair in my doorway with a notice to NOT DISTURB if I want get something done.

Prevent Interruptions

  • Prevent interruptions from walk-in visitors by isolating yourself. Close your door. Put up a sign. Work in a conference room. If you work in an office, take a day to work on important projects at home if necessary.
  • Don't feel obliged to have "an open door policy." This allows people to manage your time on their terms, not on yours. "Open door" means you're generally available for honest communication from any level. It doesn't mean "always" available.
  • If you have an assistant, establish clear guidelines as to what kinds of interruptions are appropriate, so they can screen visitors. The assistant should have the authority to schedule a subsequent meeting, or divert the inquiry to someone else.
  • Block off your time for priorities. Handle larger, important projects early in the morning, before you read your e-mail and before interruptions are likely to occur. Schedule a quiet hour to create essential private time.
  • Inform co-workers or subordinates that you generally like to come in at perhaps 8:00 am, and work on your own until 9:30 am. Only then do you accept meetings.
  • Change the layout of your desk so that you're not facing traffic. Otherwise, you encourage interruptions.
  • If you're storing materials or files that people have to access frequently, move them to another area.

Watching TV tv a time waster

- This is one that I still have problems with.  When I get off work and get home I find myself sitting in front of the TV and not working on other activities like my blogging.  I may sit there with my laptop surfing the Internet and wonder why I can not find time to blog.

Can you find the time wasters?

Let's take a look at a typical day for a computer support person and family man. 

Get up watch the news (TV) and get around to head out the door by 0700 or earlier.

15 to 25 minutes commute to work.  I don't read anything or type anything during my commute for obvious reasons.  I have thought about getting some books on CD for listening to during this time.  Anyone have some recommendations please leave me a comment.

Work 8 plus hours during the time frame of 0700 to 1800 with a minimum of 30 minute lunch.

In a typical 8 hour day I get interrupted what amounts to over 2 hours of unproductive time.  This is not normally something I initiate it is from others about random idle chit chat. 

I won't incriminate myself in the amount of time I might spend surfing the Internet.  I do check mail regularly due to my support position.  This is how I get notified I need to contact a user to help them.  I have tried to change my email checking to 30 minutes or longer but my Blackberry goes off which makes me hit the send and receive button if I don't have it automatically check sooner.

15 to 25 minute commute home.  I do not listen to music for the first half of my commute home.  This allows me to reflect on the day and make a plan for the next day.  I then use the last half of the commute to unwind by listening to music.  Some days I may listen to rock, country, jazz, blues, and some days I will listen to talk radio (depends on my mood).  When I get home I try to not do any work for the first 2-3 hours.  I like to spend a little time with the family and clear my mind.  Now this is where watching TV works it's ugly head into the mix.  I will sit down with the family and watch TV the rest of the night.  Go to bed by 2200 to start it all over again.

I have been working on making a change.  It may be ever so slightly but still trying to do the following.  At work trying to set aside 1-2 hours for me to do what I need to get done what I want not what everyone else thinks I need to do for them.  At home I am trying to use my DVR system a lot more and record the shows I think I need or want to watch.  I need to be doing more with the family at least 2-4 hours with them and then using the last 2-3 hours for my personal time.  Things like blogging, web design, and planning for the next day.

It's time for all of us to reclaim our lives.  If you ever say I don't have enough time in the day.  You need to take a look at these four most common time wasters and make adjustments.

How do you eliminate these time wasters?
What time wasters do you encounter in your normal day?

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