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Lead Your Team Personal Growth

Wasting Time at Work? 6 Ways to Be More Productive

Wasting Time at Work? 6 Ways to Be More Productive
Employees say personal technology and co-workers are killing their productivity. / Credit: Wasting time image via Shutterstock

If you want to get as much work done as possible each day, you would best be served by keeping your smartphone tucked away when you get to the office.

Personal use of technology is one of the leading culprits behind unproductive activity at work, according to a new study from CareerBuilder.

Nearly 25 percent of workers say that, during a typical workday, they will spend at least one hour on personal calls, emails or texts, while 21 percent estimate they spend at least an hour during their time in the office searching the Internet for non-work-related information.

Overall, the employees surveyed ranked cellphone and texting, the Internet and social media as three of the top four productivity stoppers in the workplace.

Among the other things workers say are holding them back from getting their work done include office gossip, snack or smoke breaks, noisy co-workers, meetings, email, co-workers popping by for a chat and co-workers who answer calls on their speaker phone.

Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, said that to stay productive each day, it is important to be organized and designate times to work on different deliverables.

"Minimize interruptions and save personal communications for your lunch hour or break," Haefner said. "It can help put more time and momentum back into your workday."

The study revealed that nearly three-quarters of employers have implemented some measures to mitigate productivity killers at work. Their tactics include blocking certain Internet sites at work, prohibiting personal calls or personal use of cellphones, monitoring emails and Internet usage, scheduling lunch and break time and allowing employees to telecommute.  They have also limited meetings and restricted the use of speaker phones for employees who don't have their own private office.

Haefner offers employees six tips to avoid wasting time on the job.

  • Organize and prioritize: De-clutter your workspace and clearly lay out your game plan for the week. What do you need to accomplish each day? How much time will each project take? Which projects have the highest priority?
  • Limit interruptions: Incoming calls and co-workers dropping by to chat about their weekend can break your concentration and eat up time. Try blocking off a conference room to work on a project to avoid distractions at your desk. Read your email at intervals instead of opening each one as soon as it comes in. Consider telecommuting on certain days.
  • Avoid unnecessary meetings: Don't set aside an hour to meet about an issue or initiative that can be addressed with a quick phone call. Politely decline the meeting invitation and follow up with the organizer.
  • Get personal on your own time: Whether you want to call a friend, take advantage of an online sale or post a picture of your dog on your social profile, do it during your lunch hour or break time or after work.
  • Communicate wisely: Don't spend 20 minutes crafting an email to the person sitting in the next cubicle. Save time by picking up the phone or walking over to your colleague's desk.  
  • Don't delay the inevitable: Finding other things to do so you can put off a less preferred project will only end up wasting more time. Don't procrastinate. Dive in and tackle the task at hand.

The study was based on surveys of 2,138 hiring managers and human resource professionals, and 3,022 full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes.

Originally published on Business News Daily

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.