Remember when your parents and teachers yelled at you for zoning out while you’re supposed to work on an assignment? Perhaps you were the one who distracted everyone else by tapping your pencil or talking to a classmate. Either way, growing up, distractions from work were not tolerated. Yet, those distractions became much more sophisticated as we grew older.

Time Wasters At Work

We may not even realize that we’re being distracted! It’s a vicious game, and we, the distracted individuals, are on the losing team. What’s even worse is that these distractions torment us in the workplace. The one place that our home training warned us, isn’t the place to be distracted.

According to a recent report, three out of four workers admit to being distracted at work. That’s 70 to 75%, a ridiculously high margin! In another study, employees admit that only 3 hours a day are spent doing actual work (out of 7-8 work hours).

The first step to breaking this habit is to understand the various types of time wasters. So we’ve put together a list of the top 8 time-wasters at work. Identify the ones that are relevant to you and we’ll help you bring some productivity and focus back to the workplace.

What Are “Time-Wasters”?

Let’s begin by defining what a time-waster is. We’ll define time-wasting activities as any activities that aren’t related to the work task you’re performing, and consume your attention for any amount of time. We know what you’re thinking. “There’s got to be way too many possible distractions to list all of them.”

You’re right. Time-wasting activities in the workplace are countless. We could do two separate articles called “16 Time-wasters For Entrepreneurs” or “10 Distractions That At-home Workers Aren’t Aware Of”. But we’ll save that for another day.

For now, let’s focus on the most common time-waster examples and the ways to stop employees from wasting time at work.

The Biggest Time Wasters at Work

1. Email

Time Wasters

Why is it a time-waster?

Emailing seems like a harmless activity to do at work, right? Don’t be fooled! One research proved that employees get 304 business emails every week. An employee checks emails on average 36 times in a single hour.

Each time an email is checked, it takes said employee approximately 16 minutes to refocus on the task at hand. Let’s do the math. It takes 16 minutes to refocus on 36 different occasions. Keep in mind that it’s 36 times an hour.

There are only slightly under four “refocus moments” (four 16-minute sessions) each hour. So after checking your email four times, you’ve essentially wasted an entire hour. That 40% of actual work is starting to make sense, isn’t it? No wonder email is often dubbed the biggest daily time waster.

How do you overcome it?

Instead of wasting time typing, sending, and checking your email, try sending a video message using ScreenRec. You can quickly and easily speak your mind and address all of your points without having to type a 2-page letter. Learn more about how to send video emails.

ScreenRec will save your time because you don’t have to upload the video when you’re ready to send it. As soon as you’ve recorded your video a shareable link is automatically copied to your clipboard. Paste this link in a text, a DM, or an email and you’re good to go. Download ScreenRec for free here.

You can also find other email alternatives here.

2. Excessive Meetings

Daily Time Waster

Why is it a time-waster?

More often than not, work meetings are productivity killers. One study showed that 92% of employees focus quietly on other things during the meeting. Even executives admit that 67% of meetings are failures.

The truth is, meetings are not efficient when people don’t pay attention when the subjects under discussion don’t affect them. Because of this, employees often miss important information delivered during the meeting.

How do you overcome it?

Yet another issue that can be solved with ScreenRec. Instead of wasting time planning and holding meetings, record pertinent information in a video and send it across the office. This way employees get the info they need, while also being able to watch the videos in their own time. Everyone can be more productive!

In case you still need to hold a meeting, follow this ultimate guide to virtual meetings.

3. Decision Fatigue

Time Waster Examples

Why is it a time-waster?

Decision fatigue is something we often face at work. The gist of it is that we need to make a lot of decisions in a single day. Eventually, we grow weary and we tend to make thoughtless and poor decisions. You waste time when you attempt to correct the errors made while you were fatigued.

How do you overcome it?

Try to avoid making small, unnecessary decisions. This could be as simple as deciding where to go for lunch or which color pen to use. Not only does avoiding these decisions cut down on non-working time, but it’ll also help you battle decision fatigue.

Organize your workday and simplify your life so you have time for important tasks. If you think about this for a moment, you’ll be able to identify the decisions that are wasting your time. If it’s the color of a pen to use, choose a color for each day of the week. If it’s where you’ll go for lunch, use 10 minutes on Monday to set a schedule for the week.

Schedule a certain amount of time early in the morning to make big decisions. And if a colleague is better equipped to make a decision, delegate it.

Check our guide on the best time management techniques for more tips and tricks.

4. Social Networks and Online Distractions

Time Wasting Activities In The Workplace

Why is it a time-waster?

It’s no secret. Social networks and other online activities may quite frankly be our main source of distraction, at work or anywhere else. Time seems to fly by as we scroll through someone’s Facebook posts, Instagram messages, or trending YouTube videos. Before you know it, 30 minutes is gone in the blink of an eye.

How do you overcome it?

You have several options here. You could simply turn off the notifications on your devices, or you could go even further and turn off the app. Besides trying to keep these sites and apps from reaching you, you’ll need to also refrain from reaching them.

It’s all about willpower and determination. So resist the urge to log into your Facebook account or get lost in the Pinterest Zone.

You can also have some fun by using the Forest App to keep you away from social media and plant some trees in the process.

5. Multitasking

What Are Time Wasters

Why is it a time-waster?

There is no such thing as multitasking. The Huffington Post published an article that explains why multitasking doesn’t work.

This article identifies multitasking as a ploy we use against ourselves. We con ourselves into thinking that, since we’re working on more than one task, it means we’re more productive. However, this is far from the truth.

Think of it as a buffet. There are many delicious foods available, and you want to try all of them in a short amount of time. You then pile multiple dishes onto your plate, believing that you’ll finish them sooner, simply because they are directly in front of you.

But this doesn’t make sense. Piling all these different foods onto one plate won’t help you to eat any faster. You’ve only given yourself more to eat in one sitting without the ability to enjoy any of it. Eating all that food will take more time than choosing a few to enjoy first and then try other dishes.

In the same way, multitasking only lets you add more tasks to your to-do list. But you’re never satisfied that you’ve done a good job and it takes more time to complete everything.

How do you overcome it?

Don’t kid yourself. Focus on one assignment and complete it fully before moving on to another. You’ll finish sooner and, when you focus all your attention on one task, your execution is bound to improve as well.

Download the Pomodoro Tracker to help you stay focused on one task. It’s just 25 minutes. You can do it!

6. Socialization

Ways To Stop Employees Wasting Time At Work

Why is it a time-waster?

Don’t get us wrong, it’s important and beneficial for our mental health to socialize. However, there is a fine line between healthy socializing and blatant distractions. Imagine a situation where your coworker starts to chat with you while you’re working diligently, thus breaking your concentration.

Or maybe you have to deal with loud coworkers who aren’t keen on using their inside voices. Or you have to work in an environment where others take phone calls all the time while you need to focus. These distractions can completely remove you from the task at hand and cause you to waste valuable time.

How do you overcome it?

Place healthy boundaries between you and the distractions. This isn’t to say that you should completely ostracize yourself, but know when to work and when to play. If the surrounding noise becomes too much to handle, pop in a pair of earbuds and tune out the noise with music. The key is to get into the zone and stay there.

Alternatively, you can invest in a set of noise-canceling earbuds to drown out the sounds in your office completely.

7. Procrastination and Lack of Motivation

Effects Of Wasting Time

Why is it a time-waster?

Sometimes the biggest distraction is ourselves because we often procrastinate. But why? One reason for work procrastination may be a general lack of motivation when you don’t have anything driving your work ethic.

In this case, you may be bored and disinterested. These two factors are what breeds complacency and complacency is what kills productivity.

How do you overcome it?

Stay focused and never forget why you’re doing what you’re doing. We all have a reason to work and be successful. Whether that’s family or personal ambition, you should keep it firmly in front of you as continuous motivation. If you never lose sight of what drives you or what you want to achieve, you have an incentive to work harder.

Set yourself goals related to the things that are important to you and write them down. This will help you to remember them whenever you feel less motivated.

8. Workplace Clutter

Eliminate Time Wasters

Why is it a time-waster?

The queen of organization, Christina Scalise, said that “clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.”

Ouch! This statement couldn’t be more true. Clutter grows as we leave things unfinished and it only gets pushed to the side.

What makes clutter dangerous is that it comes from being unproductive and it creates un-productivity. A messy workplace makes it harder to focus on one task because your eyes see many distractions around you.

How do you overcome it?

Clear away the mess and let your mind and vision focus on one task at a time. Avoid starting another assignment before the one your working on is completed. This will keep you from filling your space with non-urgent materials, which are also known as clutter.

Putting It All Together

Let’s take one final, simplified look at those time wasters.

Time Waster

How to Eliminate it

Email

Send video emails with a tool like ScreenRec. You’ll say more faster.

Excessive Meetings

Cut down on meetings and use ScreenRec to send out important videos.

Decision Fatigue

Make the big decisions in the morning and avoid or delegate the small ones as often as possible.

Social Networks & Online Distractions

Use your willpower, leave social media alone.

Multitasking

Focus on one assignment at a time. Forget about multitasking.

Socializing

Create healthy boundaries and work when it’s time to work.

Procrastination & Lack of Motivation

Never forget your reason for succeeding. Stay focused.

Workplace Clutter

Keep your area clean and avoid clutter by working on one task at a time.

Conclusion

The effects of wasting time won’t only be damaging to organizations, but to us, the individual employee as well. Unproductivity and disorganization at work tend to seep into our personal lives when we’re more stressed out and tired.

Yet, in the same way, bad work habits invade our lives, so do proper time management and healthy work habits. You may find that working diligently can keep your work-life and personal life simple and easy.

So, eliminate the time-wasters in your life by using productivity tools. Declutter your workspace, and focus on a single task at a time. You’ll be glad you did. If you want to try video emailing, download ScreenRec here.

References & Further Reading