Time loss might seem like a severe problem for many business owners and managers. Yet, it’s a big issue in many companies – and it’s often something that stays unnoticed. As a result of poor time tracking, distractions, and other factors, companies are losing thousands if not millions of dollars without realizing it.
That’s precisely why you need to analyze your company and identify the key factors that lead to time wasted in your organization. There are usually five main ways time is lost in the workplace, but solutions are available to fix them.
Time Waste at Work Statistics
Before getting into the ways you can solve the problem, it’s first worth understanding what the problem is. Here is some statistics on-time waste at work to give you an idea of how difficult the situation is:
- According to Atlassian, only 60% or less of work time is spent productively. The three main culprits for this are emails, meetings, and interruptions.
- According to a survey by Salary.com (as reported by Inc.com), 89% of workers admit that they waste time at work every day.
- According to a survey by America Online and Survey.com (as reported by Business Chief), American workers waste around 2.09 hours every day – and that doesn’t even include lunchtime and scheduled breaks. This data is on 8-hour workdays with 2.09 hours equivalent to $39.98.
As you can see, time waste at work is a real problem that is more widespread than some business owners may assume. Workers wasting time could mean financial losses for the company. The employees are paid for more work than they end up doing. So, how can you minimize time loss or waste? Here’s how:
1. Constant Emails and Notifications Result in Time Lost
First and foremost, there’s the issue of constant emails and notifications distracting employees from their work. Sometimes the problem is not that emails arrive continuously, but instead that there are so many of them that it takes a lot of time to address each one. Excessive emails are usually the result of poor or inefficient emailing practices at your company, though the problem might have more external factors.
In addition to reading emails, employees spend as much time looking for the correct email. If something from a while back needs to be referenced, the employee will need time to find the email. Likewise, replying, reading emails, then replying again, and again reading new emails – all of these conversations take up a lot of time.
The same goes for instant messaging and phone notifications. If your company uses an alternative messaging platform, you might discover that employees still spend a lot of time checking and replying to them. While instant communication makes things easier in many ways (especially for teams working remotely), it still comes with many issues, especially time loss.
To solve this problem, it’s necessary to reevaluate your current emailing and messaging policies, practices, and guidelines to create something more efficient. Set specific time frames for non-essential communication and develop protocols for essential communication throughout the day. This way, you and your team members can prioritize emails and messages to spend more time on what matters.
2. Lost Time From Lengthy Meetings
Like volumes of excessive emails and messages can be huge time-wasters, too many unnecessary (and lengthy) meetings could also become a problem. Of course, meetings are necessary to organize everything correctly, track performance, coordinate efforts, etc. However, many companies set up too many meetings that only distract employees from their daily tasks and waste time needlessly.
Chelsea Steele, an expert from the writing services reviews site Best Writers Online, explains, “In some cases, an abundance of meetings is just a manifestation of intrusive supervision practices. In other words, managers can sometimes try to regulate and control employees too much through such meetings. But at the end of the day, they only worsen the situation. Employees spend time on unnecessary meetings while also feeling too controlled.”
One of the most significant issues with meetings is that they often are too long. Even “short” meetings could easily stretch out. Likewise, there are situations when employees have discussed everything before the end of the meeting, but they still decide to use the time to talk about something else that wasn’t the topic of the discussion. In many cases, employees have frequently pulled away from doing their work to attend an unnecessary or lengthy meeting.
To stop wasting time this way, you need to consider which alternatives you could implement instead of meetings. On the other hand, you might simply decide to have fewer meetings and let employees have more autonomy with their day-to-day tasks. In addition to that, consider relying on digital communication more to organize tasks and track employee performance.
3. Poor Time Tracking Results in Time Loss
Another reason why companies keep losing time is due to poor time tracking and lack of project structure. Time tracking is much like time management, but instead of simply organizing your day to perform tasks more efficiently, you pay close attention to how much time you spend doing these tasks. If employees don't track their time on specific tasks, they dedicate too much or too little time to them, leading to poor productivity and decreased quality. A convenient solution to tracking time is the use of a time tracking app. Employees can easily punch in and out and hours are automatically calculated.
At the same time, there seems to be an issue with project structure in many companies. When a new project starts, it needs deadlines, milestones, and time frames. Having such a solid structure makes it easier for employees to understand how fast they are expected to complete the project. Otherwise, the process could easily stretch out for an extended period.
It's essential to think about project prioritization. This is when employees choose to complete specific tasks over others because of urgency, difficulty level, etc. It's a good idea to create a protocol or set of project and task prioritization guidelines for all employees to follow. It's also worth teaching employees how to perform specific tasks faster and dedicate more time to tasks requiring more attention and effort.
Be a competent worker. It's easy to lose time at your workplace if you are not mindful of your tasks. An intelligent worker always finds easy hacks to do the same job that generally people would take hours to complete. Using quick hacks in Excel, outsourcing work, using predesigned templates are a few ways you can be a smart worker.
4. Lost Time From Multitasking and Performing Mundane Tasks
While multitasking may seem like the perfect way to complete as many tasks as possible in a limited amount of time, it can end up being counterproductive. Likewise, performing mundane and repetitive tasks could also waste time or loss.
It’s likely for an employee to invest partial effort towards tasks when they try to do two or more tasks simultaneously. This means that the jobs will take more time to complete while the result might be of poor quality. Many people are used to multitasking nowadays, but it’s a counterproductive habit to avoid.
Indeed, multitasking is not as good as it may seem, but many of your employees might not even realize it. Moreover, multitasking is often paired with doing mundane and repetitive tasks on autopilot. It would be best if you taught your employees to avoid multitasking and start focusing on a single task to do it faster. Likewise, many mundane tasks can be automated or skipped to let employees work on more important matters.
5. Avoid Lost Time From Personal Distractions
Last but not least, there are additional distractions that could lead to employees wasting time at work. These distractions are usually personal in nature and come in three main forms:
- Conversations with Colleagues: There will always be some particularly talkative employees that will try to strike conversations on every occasion. That’s why you need to implement a zero-tolerance policy for casual talks during work time while letting your team know that they are free to chat during breaks.
- Surfing Social Media: Checking social media during breaks is fine, but it can become a real issue when employees do it when they should be working. This is often the result of an addiction to social media, and like multitasking, this habit can and should be broken.
- Online Shopping: Just like social media, online shopping can be pretty addictive. Some employees will feel the need to take care of their shopping needs while at work, so it’s necessary to remind them that it’s not the right time to deal with such matters.
Conclusion to Time Lost in the Workplace
Ultimately, time waste and loss should be addressed at your company, especially if you discover it to be a significant issue. Use the tips in this article to help you create your strategy for time management. With the right tools, your employees can become more productive workers who organize their day smartly and understand the importance of tracking time.
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