In a virtual office environment, productivity usually increases. This is largely because there is no casual chit-chat between employees in office kitchens and pause areas; or if there is, it is usually very limited.
However, it would be wrong of us not to mention some of the virtual office gremlins that manifest now and then. Because we are all human, we all have bad habits. These bad habits can cost you time and money. Therefore, it’s important to identify them and take control of them.
Top 5 timewasters and tips on how to manage them
Your smart or mobile phone
Our mobile devices have multiple purposes these days: calls, apps, social media, photos… the list is almost endless. We need our phones at hand for important calls from clients or colleagues. What we DON’T need is our phones beeping away app notifications and friends distracting us during work hours.
Tip: Move your phone as far away from you as you can, while still ensuring that it’s in earshot, so that you have to get up to answer calls. Deactivate or silence any groups or social media apps that distract you during work hours. You can catch up on all of them during your break or after work.
Checking your emails
If you end up checking every email as you hear it come in during your work day, you won’t get anything done. Rather set up a specific time during your work day that is dedicated to checking and responding to emails.
Tip: Check emails only twice a day – early in the morning and just after lunch. This way you can prioritise what needs to be done during your morning and afternoon routine.
YouTube, Facebook, Twitter
These three social media platforms are the enemies of productivity. Yes, an office environment doesn’t need to be 100% serious all the time, and a good laugh now and then can do wonders for the office spirit. But let’s admit, spending more than an hour (and yes, this does happen) on any one or all three of these platforms is a problem. It completely distracts you from the task you were meant to be focused on.
Tip: Create a bookmark folder and save all the videos, articles, and posts that you want to read or watch during the day in this folder. Near the end of your day and when all important tasks are under control, then you can treat yourself to the contents of this folder.
Nothing wastes more time than a meeting that has no structure. Any meeting needs to be thoroughly prepared for and items discussed in a logical fashion, or else it will result in people chatting away about topics often not even on your agenda.
In a normal office environment, your biggest time waste is having to print meeting packs. Not only is it costly, it takes days/ weeks to prepare. This monumental task can be replaced with a simple online tool like AgendaWorx (www.agendaworx.com). This system will allow a person to prep for a meeting online without having to wait for a hard-copy meeting pack. You can also make your meeting notes directly on the system. That way you’ll never forget your meeting notes again.
Tip: Appoint a chairperson for every meeting and have this chairperson manage the time spent on each item. A chairperson needs to be firm and keep the meeting on track.
By far the biggest time waster in any type of office globally is procrastination. It’s fair to say that sometimes people do deal with a block when it comes to certain tasks, and that’s understandable. The problem steps in when this becomes the issue with every single task that lands on your desk. Often we flag or file it with the intention to do it later… and before you know it more work has come in and you are completely overloaded.
Tip: Establish a workflow system that will work for you. Deal with procrastination by breaking larger tasks into more manageable, smaller units. A to-do list is a simple and clever way to get through a day’s tasks. Write a to do list first thing early in the morning, revise it by lunch time and then hopefully clear it by the end of the day.
There’s no shame in admitting to some or all of these time wasters. We are all guilty at the end of the day. It’s how you are going to approach them that will make the difference. Get your colleagues on board and brainstorm solutions to some of the other time wasters in your work environment.