Commit to conquering your environmental and personal time wasters says Christy Crump
Below is a review of the most common environmental and personal time wasters that are the easiest and most beneficial to control.
Environmental Time Wasters
- If meeting with a colleague, go to their work area, which puts you in control of your time. When you finish, you can leave without seeming rude.
- Control your environment by standing up to talk to visitors. Don’t invite them to sit if you don’t want them to stay.
- If you have an office, close your door at certain times of the day for uninterrupted work time and turn your desk away from the door. When you face the door, everyone who walks by can be a distraction.
2. Phone calls
- Screen calls when possible, so you can prepare before returning the call, and cut the call time by 50%.
- Review which calls need personal follow up, and delegate others.
- Provide short answers. Give good customer service, but don’t give detailed information and answers if they are not asked for.
- Stand while on the phone. This not only burns calories but causes you to end your call sooner than if you are seated in a comfortable chair.
- Shut down email during scheduled, uninterrupted work time. When you “switchtask” from your work to email and back to your work, it can take up to 20 minutes to reengage.
- Avoid copying five people on an email assigning work. When you do this, one of two things will happen. Either each will assume that one of the others is doing it and no one does it, or all of them do it and waste time duplicating work. If you copy numerous people on an email, spell out what you want each to do.
- Develop and follow an agenda with time limits on each agenda item. Assign a timekeeper to enforce time.
- Prioritize items according to importance and eliminate unnecessary items.
- Avoid “off track” or prolonged discussions. Use the “parking lot” to handle extra or prolonged discussions.
Personal Time Wasters
1. A high need for social interaction
When the need is not met by the job and environment, this becomes a time waster when you leave your work area to look for interaction. When you do this, your work is not being completed in a timely manner, and you may be inflicting yourself on others who need and want to work uninterrupted.
2. A high need for acceptance
This becomes a time waster when you take on too much. Rather than doing a few things well, you do many things poorly. Learn to say “no.”; it is better to under promise and overdeliver.
When you work to the point you miss a deadline, this becomes a timewaster. You should never produce a substandard product, but at some point, you must let it go. If you’ve done the best job you can, it’s as perfect as it can get.
4. A high need for risk avoidance
When you look for backup, clarification, and approval to the point the project and deadline are compromised you are risk avoid. A good example is when you want to invest in a stock. You analyze the stock, watch it for a few weeks, research it, call a broker, and ask a friend’s opinion. When you finally decide to invest, the stock price has increased to the point you can’t afford it. You avoided risk but missed your opportunity.
When you put off doing something that must be done to the point it becomes an emergency, you are procrastinating. Good ways to overcome procrastination are:
- Make time to get organized, and designate time to stay organized. Organized people tend to procrastinate less.
- Ask yourself, “What is the best use of my time right now?” And do it.
- Break down overwhelming tasks into small tasks.
- Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog, says to imagine the one thing you most procrastinate on as a frog. Commit to eat the frog every morning, so the rest of your day is good.