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ID 120059434 © Chernetskaya |

Time Wasters: Identifying Them and Finding Potential Solutions

ID 120059434 © Chernetskaya | Dreamstime.comThe last time you had to deal with a utility, how much time did you have to spend on resolving an issue? Recently I had to change carriers and the matter should have taken only a few minutes. It wound up taking hours and hours, wasting more than half a work day (not to mention the aggravation involved). This prompted me to think about all of the time wasters we face in business and what we could do about them.

Various sources have found that employees waste hours each work day, and it’s not because they’re lazy; there are time wasters eating up precious work time. Think of what this means to your bottom line!


Meetings may be inevitable, but are often identified as big time wasters. This doesn’t have to be so.

Solution: If you must hold meetings, make them effective.


How much time do you devote each day to reading and responding to email? It’s been suggested that the time spent on work email each year is equal to the time spend climbing Mount Everest twice! In fact, a worker spends an estimated 28% of the workweek managing email. Much of this is from internal communications among co-workers and managers.

Solutions: There are many suggested ways to handle email and minimize the time wasted. For example, some suggest NOT checking first thing each day but devoting that initial time to completing a necessary task. Personally, I check email first to see if there’s anything I need to address immediately and mark emails I want to get back to later in the day. Choose the option that works better for you.

Internal email can be curtailed and wasted time eliminated by using social technologies. But McKinsey & Company said “To reap the full benefit of social technologies, organizations must transform their structures, processes, and cultures: they will need to become more open and nonhierarchical and to create a culture of trust.”


If you need to find a document, sales slip, or a copy of any other thing but have to search through clutter, you’ll waste a lot of time.

Solutions:  Just declutter (obviously easier said than done for many people). Keep your desk organized, use a filing system that’s easy to access, create folders for email, and clear out or relocate old computer files. One of the best tools these days is scanning receipts and other written materials that you want to save; these can be organized into files.

Workplace distractions

These can arise in a variety of ways: a co-worker interrupting someone with nonessential conversation, surfing the web for personal matters, and noise.

Solutions: The fix depends on the nature of the interruption. For example, noise (e.g., hearing telephone conversations from co-workers in adjacent cubicles) can be remedied with headphones or earbuds.

Final thought

The old adage that time is money means that time wasters squander money.