These are the top 4 time-wasters at work! How many do you encounter every day and what can you do to avoid them


Time flies… and it is especially fleet-footed when we are wasting it. Time-wasters can really pull you down!

5 minutes of Facebook time equals 20 minutes of real time! And when you multiply the social media platforms and add email and WhatsApp to it, then it’s really not very surprising that we never end up finishing our work.

Compared to 15 years ago, office work today requires superhuman willpower to stay focused! But we can’t just blame social media or the Internet.

When we started collating some information on productivity, some statistics blew away our mind – Do you know that an average worker admitted to wasting 3 hours of their work day! In dollar terms that totalled to $759 billion in wasted salaries.

Wow! Right?

But this is not just a loss for your organisation; time wasted at work is the time you could have spent doing other things such as spending it with your family or on a hobby.

Better time management is the obvious answer to this problem. You can see this as an opportunity to change for the better – whether it is to stand out as super productive employee at work or to free up time to spend with your family and friends or on yourself.

It is not just about stopping time wastage, but more about using that time to better yourself.

However, the first step is to identify and avoid time wasters at work. So, here is the list of the biggest time wasters!

Top 4 Time-Wasters at Work

1. Meetings

Yes! Right at the top!

1 in 4 employees complains about too many meetings taking too much of their time AND (this is my favourite) 91% of the employees surveyed DAYDREAMED in meetings!

So, what can be done? While you can’t cut out meetings at work altogether, there is a lot you can do to minimise the disruption within your team –

  • Make sure only some people can call large meetings and encourage employees to have smaller team meets on their own.
  • Send a detailed agenda beforehand.
  • Set a time and stick to it. If a meeting is for 45 minutes, ensure that it finishes on time.
  • Always follow up a meeting with a MoM (minutes of the meeting)
  • Moderate and don’t let people digress from the topic of discussion.
  • Spend the last 5 minutes summarising the decisions made or the main points.

2. Social Media and the Internet

It’s no secret that almost all of us check our social media feeds and browse the Internet at work. Statistics point out that we spend 135 minutes every day on various social media sites and naturally a whole lot of this is bound to be at work!

If compulsive Internet surfing or social media grazing is something you identify as a time suck at the office, then the solution also lies with you.

Digital detox is not as simple as it sounds; most of the time we don’t even realise how many 5 minute chunks we end up spending on online, but limiting your online presence at work is something you will have to do on your own.

As always technology comes to the rescue and there are several apps that help to track your online behaviour and can even block the biggest time wasters for certain periods of time. Here’s a list of 10 best apps to keep you focused at all times.

3. Emails

Yes, this backbone of the business world has made it to the list of the biggest office time wasters.

Employees, on an average, check their emails 36 times every hour! And then it takes them 16 minutes to refocus on what they were doing before they checked their mail!

And what’s worse is that many of these emails are completely unnecessary, or so badly written that you waste even more time trying to figure them out.

So, what do you do to minimise the productivity drain your email causes?

  • You can allocate certain times of the day for checking your email. Don’t keep your email window or its notifications open the entire day. Depending on your work, log on once every hour or two.
  • You can also use email sorting apps such as Boomerang or ToDoist for Gmail or recommend apps to your HR to integrate with your office mail.

 4. Socialising

Humans are social creatures, so it’s not surprising that when thrown in an office together we will chat and gossip. But how much of it is acceptable at work, is a question we need to ask ourselves very seriously.

A survey discovered that an employee has to deal with an average of 56 interruptions a day! Apart from the time wasted during the interruption, there is the added time required to refocus on what you were doing before you were interrupted.

In an open plan office where you are sitting next to colleagues who might also be your friends, you need to set some clear boundaries.

  • What works best is just to say honestly that you need to finish something quickly and will return for a chat later.
  • Practice what you preach: don’t interrupt your colleagues often and always check if they have a few minutes to chat. If they see you do it, they might reciprocate.
  • Schedule specific breaks every few hours when you can step out for a coffee and a chat.

While you might feel that you are doing fine professionally even with all the distractions, believe us you will do even better when you control and spend your time at work more wisely.

Do you see your team or your organization struggling with time management?

I guess you see the time wasters mentioned above all around you but are unable to stop them. Sometimes an outsider can be more helpful to make your team sit up and become more productive.

For more information click on the Request Consultation button above.