Where Is Your Time Going?


InteruptionsI’m going to start this blog off by asking you a question, are you suppose to be working at the moment?  If the answer is yes, then technically I should ask you to shut this tab down and get back to work ……. but then again, this article is written with you in mind!!  In these days of modern technology, information is so much more readily available.  This is great in helping business do things smarter and more efficiently but is there such a thing as too much information?

I would argue, yes there is, especially if it is not relevant to the task at hand.  I am going to ask you another question, is your email sitting open at the moment?  How many times have you checked it today?  Out of all the emails you have read how much of it has been work related and critical to the work you are doing at this point in time?  If your email account is anything like mine, chances are it looks like this:

  • 43 emails arrived in my inbox
  • 1 was regarding new business
  • 2 were about a project I was working on at the time
  • 2 were newsletters that I subscribe to.
  • 38 were just junk, emails from friends, twitter messages, etc
  • On average I was receiving about 5 per hour, probably not much to many of you out there, but how much time did I waste being distracted by my inbox “pinging” off when another email was delivered?  the answer is I can’t tell you!!

There is not much there that was critical to the work I was doing at any point during the day, so why do we have our email open all the time?  Will someone really care if you do not get back to them for a couple of hours, I doubt it!

How many of you out there have social media tools like Tweetdeck or RockMelt, for the want of a couple of examples, and have them on all the time?  Now ask yourself how much time do you waste clicking the link of that interesting tweet or respond t0the status of a friend?  Am I starting to paint a picture here, there are a lot of distractions nowadays, that 10 years ago were not there at all.  On top of these new distractions we still have the phone as a major distraction, of which, the office phone can be bad enough but our mobiles are worse!  With the introduction of smart phones and everything that they can do, not only are we distracted in the office, we can now be distracted anywhere, in the car, walking down the street even in meetings, if you are stupid enough not to switch your phone off!!

So how do we manage these modern day vampires of time?  Here are a few things to think about:

  • Close your email down, check it twice a day, set aside some time that is not in the middle of your most productive time of the day.  Try mid day and last thing at night if your most productive time of the day is first thing in the morning.  If you are more productive in the afternoon then check your email first thing in the morning and at lunch time, then close your email down for the rest of the day.
  • Do not open social media programs like Tweetdeck & RockMelt unless you are on your lunch break, leave that tools for your time outside of work.  If you utilise Twitter as a marketing tool, use some third party software like Tweetlater or Futuretweets to schedule your tweets throughout the week and set up services such as auto responders and auto follow all who follow you.  FaceBook can also be managed this way, thus removing the need to be on there all the time, during work hours the only FaceBook updating you should be thinking about is your work page not your personal profile and that should be managed too!!
  • Plan your day, if you have a full day ahead of you, you are less likely to think about doing these distracting task above.
  • If the office phone is a nightmare, then manage this too, work out who in your team works best in the morning and who works best later in the day and delegate the task of answering the phone to those who are not in their most productive time (or in the zone as I commonly refer to it).  It will be the responsibility of the person answering the call to ensure the others are not disturbed.
  • If your staff cannot resist the temptation of logging into specific sites, such as TradeMe and eBay, then you can take more drastic action and block them on your company’s server or router (any good IT specialist can help you with this).

If you can remove temptation from an employee regarding some of these time wasting distractions you can potentially save yourself hours per week and weeks per year in productive time.  As an employer or an owner operator you have a responsibility to put procedures in place as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in the workplace, once this is done it is just a case of re-enforcing that expectation.