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How To Stop Wasting Time At Work

Work can be full of distractions, whether working in the office or from home. Between emails, text messages, social media or conversations with colleagues, there is a lot that can divert our attention and cause us to waste time at work.

It can be frustrating to try and tune out distractions to get what you need to get done for the day. Wasting time can lead to procrastination and longer working hours, as distractions can take you longer to get your head back on track.

We all need to take breaks, and it’s normal to do, but wasting time at work can lead to less productivity and focus. Removing distractions and having strategies in place can help you stop wasting time and start being more productive at work. To help, we’ve put together some great tips for reducing time wasting in the office.

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Figure Out Your Goals

A common reason you might be wasting time is because you don’t have a clear idea of a goal to work towards. When you have a goal in mind, you are more determined to work towards this, as it gives you focus and direction. A good way to stop wasting time at work is to narrow down your goals; this can be mapped at the beginning of each week or each day with to-do lists with specific tasks. For example, finishing a specific project, replying to an email, or making that presentation.

This helps to break down tasks for the day, and when you find yourself wasting time, just go back to the list and see what’s next.

2. Plan Your Day

You can one-up your to-do list and start to schedule out your day by assigning tasks to specific times of the day. This helps to stop wasting time at work by keeping you on track. You can block out certain times for checking emails, replying to co-workers, etc. You can also plan in regular breaks to help stop procrastinating.

Planning your day is a good tip to stop wasting time, as it makes it easier for you to prioritise tasks and prevents you from getting overwhelmed by your workload. It also helps to stop multitasking, which seems useful but is very counterintuitive and causes time-wasting. When scheduling, just remember to be realistic about how long each task will take and try to break up your day.

3. Prioritise Your Tasks

When planning your day or your week, it’s always good to prioritise your task list. Know how long or how short tasks will take you – or an idea of how long you’ll need. And to stop you wasting time, work on your most important tasks first. This means you can start your day by getting through what will take the longest or what will give the biggest result.

It’s common to start doing all the short and easy tasks first, but this can cause procrastination, and before you know it, it’s close to the end of the day, and you end up overwhelmed by deadlines. Finish what is most important on your list; this leads to a highly productive day. You can also use low-value or low-energy work to break workflows of bigger tasks which can help you to stop wasting time in the office and still contributes to ticking something off your to-do list.

4. Set Deadlines

This can further help you plan your time while at work. Setting deadlines for yourself can fuel your goals, plan or task prioritisation. If you have a project or deadline that you are working towards, make sure you account for this, but setting deadlines for yourself can also help stop wasting time. Start by creating deadlines for the most important tasks, then work back; this helps to determine how long you have and what to do each day.

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5. Stay Hydrated

Making sure you drink plenty and stay hydrated at work helps you stay focused and promotes productivity. It’s always good to start your day by drinking a glass of water and ensuring you always have a glass nearby. Investing in an office water dispenser for work allows access to cold refreshing water at all times for yourself and other employees.

There are many benefits of having a water dispenser at work, and even better, it’s great for sustainability. With cold, hot and sparkling water on demand, you can choose drinks you enjoy and can even eliminate the need to buy single-use plastic with glass cups and water bottles. To further help stop wasting time, we’d suggest having multiple coolers around your office and as close to central points as possible. For more, we have a helpful article about where you should place office water dispensers.

6. Enjoy Your Lunch Break 

One of the biggest time wasters in the office is non-work related. So, a good way to help divide your work and life balance is to take full advantage of breaks and lunch. This is your time to check social media and socialise, so enjoy it fully. By encouraging yourself and your co-workers to take the full break time, you can help refresh and refuel for the remainder of the day and promote better attitudes towards working. Just don’t forget to eat a balanced meal to give your brain some power and drink plenty of water too.

7. Block Out Distractions

Distractions can be a wide range of things – from work-related notifications or social media sites to noisy colleagues in the office. It’s not your fault that aspects around you cause you to waste time while working, especially social media. A good way to stop wasting time is to block out these distractions, which is easier said than done at times. You can start by blocking the websites you know you’re likely to go on, silencing notifications or putting your phone in ‘do not disturb’ mode, working in a quieter area, or even putting on headphones to drown out any noise.

8. Minimise Meetings 

Although meetings and collaborations with colleagues can boost productivity and creativity, having too many or unnecessary meetings can have the opposite effect. Meetings can take a long time – especially if you have to spend time preparing for it before and then recovering afterwards. It can drain your energy for when it comes to working. So, on the days that you do have long meetings, try to space out your time with smaller tasks.

If you feel like your time is being wasted on unimportant meetings, it’s a good idea to cut down on the meetings you attend. Look to see which meetings need to be attended; managers can always take notes and feedback to the team if need be. This will help everyone to stop wasting time in meetings and allow more time to do important tasks that fuel the goal. A good idea is to organise meetings online, which can streamline focus for the team.

9. Use The Pomodoro Technique 

A great time management strategy is the Pomodoro Technique, which forces you to focus for a time period and then take a short break. You can set timers yourself or find videos to play in the background, which does this for you.

This technique to stop wasting time is usually a 25-minute session which allows you to work without any distractions. Then after the session, you have a 5-minute break followed by another 25-minute session. After 4 sessions, you can take a 25-minute break. You can repeat as many times as you’d like or adjust the timing to better fit your work schedule.

Breaking up the time that you are working and including breaks can help to improve your focus and stop you from wasting time, as it stops you from procrastinating for too long.

10. Clutter Free 

Messy and unorganised workplaces can lead to distractions, time-wasting and are just an overall productivity killer. Clutter in your surroundings can compete for your attention and divert you from the task at hand, leading to stress. Whether you work in the office or at home, it's good to get into a habit of getting rid of the clutter in your workplace. Set reminders, either daily or weekly, to declutter your surroundings. This can be physically or digitally, like all your browser tabs or a mountain of files on your desktop. Having an organised space keeps your mind calm and at ease while working.

11. Take Care Of Your Energy

While working, don’t forget that you are not a machine, and you need time for yourself. One of the biggest reasons for wasting time is not managing your energy well. You need to give time to your brain and body to rest, so when mapping out your day, make sure you incorporate time to match your energy levels. For example, if you’re not a morning person, give yourself easier tasks in the morning, or if you burn out in the afternoon, don’t plan on working on intensive tasks after lunch. Make sure that you take regular breaks throughout the day; this will allow you to recharge. A good idea is to step away from your work and go for a walk to refresh.

12. Balance Work And Home Life 

To stop wasting time in the office or procrastinating, which can cause us to work longer hours, it’s important to balance work and home life. The less often you spend working outside of office hours, the less you will waste time in the office. Similar to revenge procrastination at bedtime, which is staying up later to make up for time worked, you will use your office hours for personal time.

Another reason you might waste time at work is because you didn’t schedule in any of the good activities or hobbies that you enjoy outside of work. Doing activities that you enjoy outside of work will make you value your time more and help you be more productive day to day. You’ll be wasting less time at work as you won’t be distracted by the things you could be doing because you know you have the time for that later.

Stop Wasting Time And Get Work Done

Everyone struggles with wasting time, so don’t feel guilty. But a bit of organisation and time management techniques can help you stop wasting time when working. We hope that our tips have helped you stay on track. You can also use these tips to help you stop wasting time at home as well. If you are interested in a BRITA water dispenser for your home or work, you can always contact us; we’d love to help! To learn more, why not browse our Dispenser News & Stories.

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