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How to avoid the 5 biggest time wasters at work

21 Jun 2017

I used to be overwhelmed at work, until I learned this...


For most people, every day is a race against the clock. Because there’s always more work, and never enough time to get everything done.


The most successful people are the ones who get the most out of their time and energy. They choose what to spend their time on, rather than whether or not to spend their time on something.


Being aware of the five biggest time wasters and being ready to deal with them is what separates successful people from unsuccessful people. It separates the focused from the busy.



Nothing wastes time as working on a task longer than necessary. Every minute spent on something that could have been finished already, is a minute wasted.


How to prevent perfectionism? Before you start working on a task, define exactly what is “good enough”. As soon as you’ve achieved this, move on to the next thing.


If you’re still afraid to fall in the trap of perfectionism, here’s something you can do. Don’t tell yourself you will do the whole thing. Tell yourself that you’ll only make a start. Make the start, let it rest for a day and then define exactly what you need to do to finish it.


Rework (correcting mistakes)

Double work is often even more painful than unnecessary work.


Famous basketball coach John Wooden said: “If you have no time to do it right, then when will you have time to do it again?”


How to prevent rework? There’s no quick fix for this. It’s about patience. About awareness… about paying attention. It requires a strong intention to do things the first time right.


But do remember one thing: do not start working on something that has not yet clearly been defined. Is the purpose 100% clear? Did all stakeholders agree on the desired outcome? Do you know what is the best/fastest/easiest way to deliver the desired outcome?


If not, better do some more research first because rework may soon be waiting for you….


Unexpected visitors

Although they mean it well, colleagues, partners and customers can be a major threat to your getting things done. Whether it’s via phone, email, instant messaging or in person… interruptions break your attention so they’re a major threat to your productivity and the quality of your work. If you don’t say “no” to others, you’ll find out that you say “no” to yourself and your own goals.


How to deal with this, without being impolite? In short, it all comes down to managing expectations. In the end… it’s also in their best interest that you can concentrate on what you need to do.


Let me give you some suggestions:

  • Disable all push notifications for new emails and instant messages.

  • Memorize one or two simple sentences to say “no” politely. “I’m sorry, I’d love to help you out but I’m in the middle of something important. Is it OK if I get back to you within a few hours?”

  • Learn how to stop a conversation. “I’m sorry but I have to get back to my work. Did I give you all the information you need?”

  • Choose fixed timeslots in which you’re available for questions.

  • Schedule a short talk or a coffee break with somebody who wants to ask you something. Ask him or her to prepare all the questions so you can get the most out of your time together.

  • Choose a calm workspace. In the office it means you can take your laptop and sit at another department or in an empty meeting room.

  • Wear headphones: a very subtle but clear “please do not disturb” sign.



Remember that emails are a means, not an end. If you let your inbox guide your day, you’re setting yourself up for a busy day in which you achieve nothing substantial.


Because “emailer” is not a job (unless you’re in customer service).


It’s your job to figure out what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do it.


Frantically responding to everybody’s demands is not the way.


So with emails, here’s what to do:

  1. Figure out how much time you need to process all your emails

  2. Schedule fixed moments each day to get this over with (aim for an empty inbox by the end of each day)

  3. Don’t let yourself be distracted by emails during the remainder of the day, so you can work on YOUR goals


Start doing this, then find ways to process emails faster and to receive less emails.


Think about making new agreements about emails with the people around you, using different communication channels like Slack and Trello or scheduling a weekly call with the people who need you the most.



If you’re busy and out of control, here’s what’s the problem: you.


Not what you wanted to hear, right?


I get it… but here’s the deal.


Nobody will solve your busyness for you.

Nobody will find a way for you to get more done, spend more time with your family, improve your relationships.


Only you can do that.


How? By taking action. By starting to do things differently TODAY.

Read this article again. I wrote every word, every sentence with a purposeful intention. For you.


If you believe this article can help you, go DO it. Don’t just read it and nod. Find the action points (there are more than 10 of them) and implement them in your life (if not, reading this article was kind of a waste, wasn't it?).


Are you ready to bring your career to the next level?

You see that stress-free success is the direct result of your habits: of how YOU deal with the situations you're in. Which is why... you need a system. Only when you have a system, you will be reminded to work on the right things at the right moment, and to ask yourself the right questions at the right time.


What if I told you that we developed that exact solution? On this page you can read all about it.


I’m here to support you. If I can do it, you can do it. Together we’ll get you in control of your work so that YOU can start creating the future that YOU desire.





P.S. If you have a second and you find this article helpful, can you please help me and share it on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? I’m very grateful 😊




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