So, do you regularly work overtime?
Many of us do, not because we enjoy spending a longer time in the office when everybody else has gone home for the day. It’s because we haven’t had enough time in the day to get through our busy schedules. We are then forced to sit behind our desks working instead of spending time doing something else with our lives, and this, as you will know yourself if you are relating thus far, sucks! We will miss out on social opportunities. We will miss out on the hobbies that give us pleasure and joy in life. And we will miss out on rest and relaxation time, and that won’t bode well for the following day at work when we are tired and stressed as a consequence.
If you are regularly working overtime then, you need to ask yourself why. In some cases, it might be because you simply have a lot of work to do, in which case, you should probably delegate more or outsource to others. On the other hand, it might be because you are wasting time during the day, in tasks that may or may not be relevant to the work you have to do. According to one study, we lose 21.8 hours a week because of these so-called time thieves, and as the study suggests, this is why we are then forced to spend a longer time at work on a daily and weekly basis.
Below, we are going to list some of the time-wasters that could be causing you to work overtime. Read them, heed them, and if any of them relate to you, make every effort to make the necessary changes, so they don’t eat into your time again. You might then be able to get home on time, and you won’t have to spend your entire weekend trying to catch up on anything you didn’t get to complete during your normal working hours.
Time-Waster #1: Meetings
How many hours a week do you spend in meetings? While they can be a necessity, they can also be responsible for putting a dent in your productivity during the day. To ensure they don’t eat into your time, you should take steps to reduce the hours you spend in meetings, or to eliminate the need for them altogether.
Here are some of the things you can do.
- a) Set a strict time limit for your meetings. This might stop people (and yourself) wasting time through unnecessary chatter, be that friendly banter or conversations about non-pressing business matters.
- b) Use video-conferencing software for non-office meetings. Why travel to a meeting when you can use Skype or similar to hold meetings with your business clients? You will save time when you don’t have to spend a chunk of your day traveling to and from meetings, and you will have the opportunity to quickly get back to the tasks you need to do once your video call is over.
- c) Find other ways to communicate with your employees. So, rather than call them into meetings to discuss work-related issues, such as staff scheduling or project updates, do something else. For example, you might streamline your operation with project and scheduling software that can be accessed by employees from their computers or mobile devices. Or you might email rather than talk to them directly. If there’s little need to disrupt work with a meeting, then don’t.
- d) Get meetings out of the way early. So, rather than disrupt your workflow with a meeting later in the day, organize them for first thing in the morning. This way, both you and your employees will have the opportunity to focus on other work-related tasks without any interruptions.
Time-Waster #2: The internet
The internet is a marvelous invention, and for business owners, it can be a real blessing, especially when it comes to research and marketing purposes. However, the internet can also be a real curse, and this is partly because of the following.
- a) You might use it for non-work purposes. A friend or a colleague might send you a link to a video that you ‘just have to watch’ on YouTube. You might get suckered into Facebook to check the number of likes your latest status has received. And you might be tempted to look at any other internet sites, which, while interesting to you, might have nothing to do with the work you have piling up on your desk. Our advice is this. Use an internet-blocking app on your computer, and set it to block any sites that are liable to distract you during your working hours. You can then get on with the work you have to do, and this will give you more time to check your favorite sites when you finally get time to relax after work.
- b) You might be tempted to check your emails regularly. Sure, that ping from your email inbox might indicate something that needs to be read urgently, but then again, it might be a piece of spam, or that YouTube link we mentioned sent from a friend or colleague. The more time you spend checking and reading your emails, the less time you will have to work. So, block out time in your day to read and answer your emails, and if you’re not expecting anything urgent to come through, resist the urge to check your inbox for the rest of your time at work.
Time-waster #3: Your phone
And when we talk about your phone, we are referring to actual phone calls rather than internet-related matters. And when we say phone calls, we are thinking of the following people.
Friends and family members. Generally, these will be non-urgent calls, and while you might appreciate the opportunity to speak to your nearest and dearest, you should still resist the urge because you won’t get any work done otherwise. You should let family and friends know when you are working in advance, but if they do ring you during work hours, let them go to voicemail, and send a quick text later in the day to let them know that you will speak to them later. You might also turn your phone off or put it on mute when you have a busy schedule ahead of you.
Your employees. You might receive phone calls from remote employees, with queries or updates about the projects they are working on. In one sense, this is fine, and if the calls are urgent, then you should probably take them. However, as mentioned earlier, you might also use project and scheduling software, as this is a more time-efficient way for you and your employees to communicate with one another. You might also designate a time in the day for phone calls, so if something isn’t particularly urgent, they will know when not to bother you with a phone call.
Your customers. Of course, you shouldn’t neglect your customers. If you don’t answer the phone to speak to them, you might lose their custom. However, you don’t need to rely on your phone for your customer support needs. You could outsource your customer service to call center reps, or you could delegate the responsibility to people within your team. You might also use chatbot technology, or add a communication form to your website, so customers don’t have to use the phone to reach you.
Time-Waster #4: You!
Now, we have already alluded to some of the ways in which you might be responsible for wasting time. You might waffle on at meetings, spend too much time looking at cat videos online, or indulge in conversations with friends when you know you should be working. However, you might also be guilty of a few other time-wasting activities.
Ask yourself these questions.
Have you ever taken more breaks than is necessary in the day?
Have you ever spent more time tidying your messy desk than actually working?
Have you ever spent more time making to-do lists than actually doing anything from your lists?
Have you ever put off doing a job you hate and done something far more enjoyable instead?
We are all guilty of wasting time, but we need to consider how we are doing it, and why? So, if you are taking more breaks in the day than you should, for example, it might be because you need the rest. You should focus on all of the time-wasters we have mentioned in this article, and eliminate them from your life, so you are able to relax fully at home. And if you find yourself procrastinating during the day, perhaps because you don’t want to face the tasks at hand, you should possibly outsource or delegate them if they are causing you too much stress.
Think about the things you do then, and if you are your own worst enemy when it comes to wasting time, be on your guard and start to make the relevant changes in your life.
Time is precious, especially when it comes to business, so consider what we have said today. If you can overcome the time-wasters we have mentioned, then you will finally get the opportunity to leave work on time and do other things in your life that don’t require you to sit behind your desk. Any hey, you might even get to go home early occasionally, so use that possibility as an incentive to cut out your time-wasters and get things done!