Time Wasters: Getting a Handle on Efficiency

January 28, 2022
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If you feel like you and your employees are working hard, but productivity is still low, your workplace is guilty of at least one major time waster. Efficiency is putting the old adage of “smarter, not harder” to use, and time wasters enable this. Employees and leadership alike are guilty of time wasters, and you’ll have to work together to make the most of your time to improve productivity. 

Time Wasters from Leadership

While you as the manager may be pushing for higher productivity, you may also be preventing it from happening. Take a look at this list and reflect on changes you could make in your organization. 

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Meetings and Presentations

We all know the phrase “this could have been an email,” so why are we all still having these meetings? Each time you schedule a meeting, think about why you need to physically (or virtually) meet. If the purpose is to inform, then the meeting can most likely turn into an email. If you want feedback from your employees, can you send out a survey? Once you have the input you need, you can make an informed decision about the meeting’s agenda and decide to hold it or not after that. 


Look at the physical space of your business, is it organized? Clutter can often distract employees from their work, wasting time. The time you take to organize the space will be well worth the productivity increase. In addition to your physical space, is your actual business organized? If employees are spending time looking for files, numbers, and procedures, that is time wasted. If you aren’t sure how to best organize your business, ask your employees. They have ideas to make it better, they just need the time to do so. 


Multitasking is proven not to work. People cannot fully complete more than one task at a time. Odds are, staff is short and they need to multitask to keep the business running. You can fix this problem by creating a priority list of tasks and explaining the significance of single-tasking to your employees. Expect productivity to be slower at first, but once they get used to it you will notice less mistakes and thus higher productivity. 

Time Wasters from Employees 

Personal Cell Phone Use 

You can’t take your employees phones away, but you can set an expectation for them, starting with yourself. Explain to your employees what the expectations are for their personal cell use, make them realistic but firm, and explain what will happen if they are not meeting these expectations. The most important part of this is to follow through. When you see an employee using their phone, ask if they think that is within the realm of the expectations. This will encourage them to police themselves on this major time waster. 

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Chatting with Coworkers 

This is a major time waster people do not even notice because they’re talking to employees at work, so it seems like work. The problem is, it isn’t work. Productivity is not going to increase through a conversation with Barb about her weekend. Just like with the cell phones, you need to set expectations for this. Of course, this is more delicate, as you want a positive climate and culture for your employees. If you notice certain groups chatting often, you can insert yourself into the conversation and turn it back to work. Hopefully, they will get the idea, but if not, you can always pull them in for a chat about it. 

Efficiency is crucial to every business, so opening your eyes to your organization’s biggest time wasters is time well spent.