Breaking Bad Habits that Waste Time

In my personal life, I’ve chosen a few “bad habits” to give up for the next several weeks. There are many ideas behind the choice, but one of them is simply to work towards becoming a better person. It got me thinking, though, about what I can give up in my work life to make me a better employee/colleague. When it comes down to it, I think the best way to do this is to save my coworkers and myself more time. A few months ago, I posted about Articulate Storyline Development Timesavers. The bad habits I’m giving up will be great time savers, and you can use them too at work or at home.

1. Constant Email Checking

According to an article in the Huffington Post, workers spend up to a quarter of their day reading and responding to emails. Now, most of us work eight hour days – that means you’re spending TWO HOURS a day emailing. Is that really necessary?

Try this instead. Close Outlook, and have it automatically check email every two hours. Make it known to your colleagues and your clients that if you’re needed immediately, a phone call is the best way to reach you. You’ll be amazed at how much more you get done in a day when you’re not constantly checking your email.

2. Social Networking

If you’re like me, you have your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram (among others) accounts linked to your phone and your tablet. If your organization hasn’t blocked access to these sites, you might even have them bookmarked on your computer. Instead of having all of these networks send you instant notifications, try having notifications sent to your email (see habit number 1 above), or disable them altogether.  Do you need to know RIGHT NOW that a person you didn’t like in high school got a new puppy yesterday? That can probably wait until your lunch break!

3. Texting

We do live in a digital age. Texting has become a very accepted means of communication, even within some workplaces. It’s very useful if you need to get a quick message to your boss while they’re out of the office and can’t take a call. But if you’re texting a friend about your weekend plans, do one of two things: Either wait until your lunch break or after work, or pick up the phone and have a one minute phone conversation instead of a twenty minute text string. Let’s face it, if you’re texting back and forth, your full attention isn’t on the work in front of you.

4. Multitasking

One of the 100 things mentioned in the book I reviewed in November was the fact that people cannot truly multitask. Even with the simplest of tasks, it’s actually just quick task-switching. Sure, things like walking and talking come naturally together. You’ve done them together for such a long time that they become second nature. But try to read an email and have a conversation with your coworker at the same time. Or try to program a course within an authoring tool and storyboard a different course at the same time. As good as your intentions may be, you’re bound to slip up and include content from the wrong course or forget valuable information. Try focusing all your attention on a single task at any given time. Odds are that you’ll accomplish that task both more quickly AND more accurately.

My wife will appreciate this one – it sure is tough to talk to her and watch a Florida Gators football game at the same time.

5. Having a Messy Desk

Clutter on your desk can make it difficult for you in many ways. Desiree mentioned back in January that organizing her office will save her a bunch of time. And the same is true of files on your computer. Even if everything currently on your computer is “organized chaos” in your mind, imagine how much easier it would be to find things and get things done if your computer files were organized in a very logical manner. This one, for me, is more to save my coworkers time. Organizing project files like photos, audio, or storyboards in a thoughtful way will help them find what they need and move on. I learned this one the hard way!

We can all use extra time in a week – start by dropping even one of these habits, and let us know how it goes for you!

Nick Elkins

3 Responses to “Breaking Bad Habits that Waste Time

  • Diana Friedline
    11 years ago

    You’ve busted me! I’m guilty of all of the above. Thank you for the gentle reminder. Now excuse me…. I’m using this as a way to procrastinate awhile longer 🙂 !!!

  • James Young
    11 years ago

    Every person who works should read this article. Think how much more productive we would all be if we took your ideas to heart and practiced them.
    Only one question remains: Does spending time reading your article on wasting time count as constructive time or wasted time?

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