How to Find More Time In Your Work Day

Three Methods:Identify Large Chunks of Wasted TimeRecover Wasted MinutesStrengthen Your Time Management Skills

Surveys conducted throughout the United States have found that the average employee admits to wasting approximately 2 hours out of every 8 hour work day. This does not including lunch and other scheduled breaks. Human Resource managers generally assume just less than one hour of wasted time per employee when determining compensation packages, and many companies have employee work productivity levels based on those same assumptions. If you find that you do not have enough time to get work done, it may be because there is more wasted time than you realize.

Method 1
Identify Large Chunks of Wasted Time

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    Look over your calendar for the past year to find meetings, conferences, committees and other work obligations that took a large chunk of your working hours but were wastes of time. Resign, withdraw or do whatever is necessary to avoid wasting time by participating in the future.
    • If your job requires you attend, think of ways you can multi-task while you are there.
    • Send someone else to attend in your place if you feel the company should be represented.
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    Limit the amount of time you spend corresponding to email. Some workers report spending over an hour each morning to deal with the contents of their inbox. Each time an employee is distracted by an email, reads it, and returns to the task at hand, approximately five minutes is wasted.
    • Unsubscribe from newsletters and other communications that are not necessary for your work.
    • Raise the screening level of your email spam filter to keep more email out.
    • Send less and reply less to receive less email. It is not always necessary to reply to all emails you receive. Sometimes simply replying with a "Thank You" keeps the email conversation going and wastes time, long after business is concluded.
    • Turn off audible and visual new mail alerts unless your primary job is monitoring email. Check your email at regularly scheduled times during the day to handle new messages, instead of dealing with each message as soon as it trickles in.
    • Alternatively, you can change the interval at which new emails appear in your inbox. Increasing it from every 5 minutes to every 30 minutes could save you up to 80 work interruptions each day.
    • Deal with, delegate or delete each email as it comes in. Keep stored emails filed and organized so you do not waste time later trying to retrieve them.
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    Schedule meetings with a start and stop time that is realistic for the amount of material you need to cover. Stick to the agenda to ensure that the material is covered during the allotted time, and adjust your schedule if actual time needed varies from your original time estimate.

Method 2
Recover Wasted Minutes

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    Limit your chat time with coworkers.
    • When approached by chatty coworkers say that you have "X" amount of minutes, and then must get back to work. Stick to your schedule and suggest you get together over lunch, on a coffee break, or after work to finish the conversation.
    • Refrain from getting involved in office gossip or rumor mills that focus your attention on an issue that has nothing to do with work.
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    Make an honest list of personal things that you do during your work day. Some of these things you might not even realize you do because they are now habit. Eliminate what you can, and you may be surprised at the amount of free time you find. Employees often report doing the following during the work day:
    • Surfing the Internet for personal use.
    • Playing computer games.
    • Making personal phone calls.
    • Conducting personal business.
    • Running personal errands off work premises.
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    Get to work early so you can begin your work day on time, and continue working until the end of the work day, stopping only for scheduled breaks.
    • It is estimated that some people routinely waste 15 to 30 minutes at both ends of the work day mentally and physically preparing for the work and home transition. Your productive work day actually starts when you begin working and ends when you start getting ready to go home.
    • Arrive at work early if you know that you need time in the morning before beginning work.
    • Use the commute time to and from work for mental preparation. On your way to work, visualize yourself starting your day, go over your calendar and get yourself ready to start working. On your way home focus on letting your work day go and think about your family, home time and evening plans.

Method 3
Strengthen Your Time Management Skills

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    Keep your work schedule organized using a desk or wall calendar, appointment book or whatever method keeps your working most efficiently.
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    Prioritize your jobs to make sure the most important work gets done every day. Color code the most important 20 or 30 percent of your work, or find some other way to identify it on your schedule.
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    Eliminate those jobs or tasks that you find yourself repeatedly moving to the bottom of the list because they are trivial, meaningless or unnecessary. Decide they no longer need to be done or delegate them to someone else.
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    Avoid being a perfectionist. Perfectionism and extreme attention to detail can waste a lot of time on simple tasks when it is not necessary. Left unchecked, perfectionism can also become a form a procrastination.
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    Tackle procrastination by breaking large jobs into smaller manageable steps. Schedule time each day to accomplish a step or two until you complete the job.

Article Info

Categories: Work World