Who hasn’t spent a day in the office and achieved absolutely nothing? Time wasters are most likely the blame. In this blogpost you will learn how to identify and avoid time wasters.
You have a new message. A friend invites you to play a game on Facebook. Your cell phone keeps ringing. The truth is, distractions are everywhere and they are a well known time waster. The solution: muting your phone, turning off social media notifications and mail pop-ups. And, if you work at home, be sure to create a private work space, where you can work uninterrupted. If you work in a cubicle in the office you might also want to wear headphones to block out all kinds of noise, and music can increase your productivity. How’s that for a win/win?
Interruptions are one of the most tedious time wasters. You are busy on an important project when suddenly you feel a tap on your shoulder. You turn around and see your colleague. “Have you got a minute?”. Interruptions can be a serious threat for your flow. However, not all interruptions are bad. Some are necessary, when a situation becomes urgent. Although experiences teaches that not all colleagues interrupt you for urgent or important matters..
So, how to handle these kind of interruptions? Set clear rules. Tell your colleagues you have an hour from 09.00AM to 10.00AM to help with any urgent matters and another hour after lunch (12.30PM to 13.30PM). It might take some time, but eventually colleagues will respect these hours and save up their questions for these moments. You will most likely still have to deal with some interruptions from time to time, but hopefully these are urgent matters from now on.
What to do when your own procrastination is the problem? Our brain does not distinguish between important and unimportant tasks. So clearing a level in Candy Crush is as important as preparing for tomorrow’s meeting for the brain. That is why we tend to shift to “busy work”, small errands and tasks that are meaningless fillers of time. Busy work can be seen as one of the most tedious time wasters.
The solution to overcome procrastination: use the Pomodoro technique and give yourself a break from time to time. Work in small batches of work to get things done, then stretch your legs and go get some coffee. By the time you get behind your desk again your brain is re-energized. This make you more focussed and boosts your creativity for the next task.
When you start a task and you need to switch to another task, you lose focus and it costs energy to switch tasks. Even worse, it takes roughly 20 minutes to regain your focus again. So make sure you break down large projects into smaller batches and focus on a small batch at a time. Don’t try to do many things at once, because all your doing is rapidly switching between tasks. Which ultimately results in poor quality work.
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