I once worked for a boss who had a Ph.D. in time-wasting. This person’s signature move? Pointless meetings. I would spend my days shuffling from one to the next. Few were productive. Most made me feel frustrated. And the more invites I received, the longer my to-do list grew. I finally realized that we were doing his work at the meetings and with the follow-up tasks.
Nothing is more frustrating than wasting time. We can all relate to that feeling. And it is even more frustrating when your boss is the one throwing the hours away.
Sure, there are many reasons that people squander time — without any help from the boss. One survey found that 89 percent of workers admit that they waste time every day on non-work-related outlets like Facebook and YouTube.
And most managers are not consciously wasting time. It is not your fault that the team is dilly-dallying away the hours — right? No, not entirely. But you cannot lay all the blame on viral cat videos.
Leaders set the course for how the team prioritizes and manages time. So if you are in a position of managing others and notice that the hours are frittering away, you need to examine how your actions are contributing.
My master time-waster allowed meetings to gobble up the day. But there are all sorts of ways that leaders waste time. And contributing to a happy and productive team requires paying keen attention to anything that is hindering progress.
Here are the ways all of us can stop wasting the team’s time:
No clear direction
Have you laid out and shared a clear strategy? If not, you are all heading down an inefficient path. Without clear goals to follow, the team will pick up random projects and self-approve new initiatives that are not in line with the long-term vision. Everyone might look busy, but that is all it is — busy work.
You should never stop being curious about your team. What is everyone working on? Does that work still spark their interest? Without these answers, you are unable to make improvements to the workflow or identify any lurking boredom.
Many people favor operating behind closed doors. No distractions, right? The problem is that your team has no idea what is happening. That secretive approach feeds a major time-waster: gossip. If your team is preoccupied with the what-ifs and unknowns, they will have trouble getting down to work.
Is everyone in the organization a compulsive “refresher”? Checking email and message notifications constantly because they are waiting on crucial answers — from you. Letting the hours tick by without responding to an email, or any other type of request, kills both productivity and time.
Your success — and the success of the team you work on — will be defined by what you can accomplish with the limited time you have. So remain alert as to how your actions may be delaying important work.
At the end of the day, there is nothing more valuable than people and time. Successful people are mindful of both, and make choices that will keep everyone moving forward.
What are the biggest time-wasters at your work?