Where Does the Time Go? Identifying and Dealing with Your Time Wasters
Do you ever wonder how you can possibly work so much but never seem to get anything done? One of the most important time management skills is identifying things that are wasting your time and taking control of them. Here are some of the biggest things that waste your time and what you can do about them.
You can find anything you want online and all of it can gobble up your time and keep you from getting work done. Email, social media sites, videos, and online forums are the worst. How do you cut out the distractions? First of all, take an honest look at what you’re doing. Do you really need to check your email every hour on the hour? Do you really need to stay logged into Facebook just in case there’s an important message?
Once you’ve identified your distracters, a great way to get control is to specify time for them in your schedule. For example, set aside just 15 minutes a day for Facebook. When your 15 minutes are up, close that tab on your browser to get rid of that distracting temptation.
If you work at home, there are always going to be interruptions, especially if you have a family. There’s no way to shut yourself off from the world entirely. The best way to deal with interruptions is to let everyone know that you’re ‘at work’ for the next couple of hours. When interruptions occur, let them stop you and give them the attention they need. Don’t try to force work amid interruptions or you’ll lose focus.
Many jobs are rife with meaningless meetings that can really drain your time. Turn down any meetings that aren’t absolutely essential. If you have to attend, set a definite finish time and be proactive in moving things along. The other attendees will appreciate the time you’re saving them.
Most people are under the mistaken belief that multitasking saves you time. After all, you’re doing several things at once so you must be getting them all done faster. However, the truth is that multitasking is another time-waster. Each task takes longer than it would if you were doing them individually, and you’re not really putting the attention into them that they need. Try to avoid multitasking as much as possible, and put all of your focus into the task at hand.
Loss of Focus and Burnout
You can waste time by working too much or too many hours. Long hours don’t necessarily mean greater productivity for most people. When your mind and body get tired, you lose focus. When you start to lose your focus, everything takes you longer to complete. If you’re not feeling motivated, sometimes it’s better to do something else for a while to avoid getting burned out. And make sure that if you do need to burn the midnight oil, you’re at least taking enough breaks to keep your focus together.
Tracking Your Time
The best way to deal with all time management issues is to track your time. Keep a detailed record of what you do with your day for several days. This will show you exactly where you’re wasting time and it’s almost always a big surprise. You can use this information to create a time budget that’s more accurate.