Time wasters at work: The worst offenders uncovered

29 Apr 2013 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Most of us are time wasters, according to a survey on, which found that 73% of office workers squander at least an hour of time at work every day.

The worst offenders are sometimes legitimate daily chores that whittle away the 9 – 5; then there are those colleagues who want to kill time in their day, by impinging on your precious time.

Here are some of the worst time wasting offenders:

Responding to e-mails: Everything seems to need a response, so dealing with your inbox is a huge drain on your time. In some cases you’d save time by calling the contact, rather than crafting a perfectly worded response. If you need a paper trail, write up a quick summary and send that instead. Prioritise your inbox so you can filter out non-urgent messages and send distracting stuff straight to a folder.

Interruptions: Desk pests can be annoying - those colleagues who try to engage you in chit-chat when you want to get on. If you’re having a productive period and someone makes an unwelcomed approach to your desk, make it clear that you are busy. Perhaps stand up, so they get the visual message that loiterers will not be tolerated.

Marathon Meetings: We’ve all sat through these. Before you organise a meeting or accept an invite to someone else’s, think about how necessary it really is to be there. If you do need to meet, give yourself a deadline for leaving. Try to be assertive and keep things moving from point to point. Schedule meetings either back-to-back or with plenty of time between them so you don’t end up with short, unproductive periods between meetings.

Disorganised Colleagues: Factor in extra time if you’re working on a project with someone who is disorganised. You’ll only find it stressful if you try to make them work to your timeline. If you manage someone who is disorganised, set organisational goals to help them.

Finally…Make time for you: Be a little bit selfish. Block out periods of time in your diary so you have thinking and doing time. Clear your head with a walk at lunchtime – leave the office for half an hour everyday, so you get a change of scene. It can often help you generate mental space for ideas and completely change your mood.

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