These days, it seems like being busy is a status symbol.  There is sometimes a misconception that being busy means you are successful and important.  Of course, every business owner wants their business to thrive, and will work hard to achieve that aim.  But if you aren’t managing your time well, you’re going to crash and burn before long.

Time is the most valuable commodity to a business, so you need to make sure you manage it effectively and get the most out of it.  Certain areas of your business will always drain your time, making you feel like you never have enough. The key is to reduce the distractions as much as you can.

Below are 10 of most common time wasters:

1.      Too Many Policies and Protocols

Keeping your employees safe and ensuring compliance with regulations is vital for every business.  It will always be necessary to create policies and protocols for your employees to follow.  However, some businesses go completely overboard with this idea, creating strict procedures that must be adhered to for every task and interaction in an employee’s workday.

In addition to creating potential stress and confusion, this can have a negative impact on productivity.  Team members will have to spend significant amounts of their time checking they have followed the correct procedure, instead of being trusted to know how to perform their jobs.

2. Unnecessary Meetings

According to a recent survey, almost half of office workers view pointless meetings as the biggest waste of time in their workplace.  In addition to impacting productivity, these can sap motivation and have a further detrimental effect on the rest of your team’s tasks.

Try to make sure all your team meetings are short, and stick to the objectives of the meeting.  Besides the obvious steps, such as preparing an agenda and notes beforehand, allotting time for each point on the agenda and making sure you start and finish on time, there are a few tricks that can also boost the effectiveness of your meetings.

For example, keeping everyone standing for a meeting helps keep meetings short and focused on their purpose.  Providing a forum for attendees to note ideas and comments which aren’t totally relevant to the meeting agenda prevents these comments and discussions from derailing the meeting.  Getting an off-topic discussion back on track can cost valuable time.

3. Taking On Too Many Responsibilities

For most people, it takes at least a little time to get up to full speed on a task.  Switching between tasks or handling too many tasks at once can reduce your overall productivity.  Multi-tasking is to some extent unavoidable, especially when running a small business or working in a small team, but overloading yourself with numerous tasks at the same time is not helpful.

Smart scheduling, using a scheduling app that allows time for unexpected issues, reduces the lost productivity by creating time blocks for each task.  By scheduling time for specific responsibilities, it will be easier for team members to manage their time across different tasks, and know when to expect responses from colleagues.

4. Social Media Stress

Many businesses underestimate the time and effort it takes to maintain an effective social media presence for your organization.  The need to post and answer messages throughout the day can drain your productivity through constant distraction.  In addition, while social media is an invaluable source of feedback, constant exposure to customer complaints and issues can sap the motivation and attention you need for your other responsibilities.

Furthermore, social media can be addictive.  It is important not to view the time you spend on your business’s social media accounts as an opportunity to also check in on your own notifications and messages.  Social media platforms are extremely effective at convincing you to spend ‘just a minute or two’ scrolling through your feed.  These little unplanned breaks quickly add up to hours of wasted time.

Posting and replying on social media is a much smaller task when it is organised, and scheduled as part of your daily workflow, instead of letting it cut into your free time or other tasks. Getting into the habit of scheduling all your social media activity takes the pressure off, by planning your posts in advance and giving you much-needed offline time.

5. Disorganised Communication

Without the use of communication tools to organise team discussions and updates, you can waste a significant amount of time simply finding previous messages or clarifying instructions that can’t easily be found.  For example, if you communicate with your team via a chat app but also send project updates and briefs via email, your team members have two different places to check for information and old messages.

Integrating all your internal communications into a single tool can save a huge amount of time.  Your team can then receive and send workflow updates, direct messages and email notifications without remembering to check multiple apps.

6. Trying To Do It All Yourself

When we try to “do it all,” our available time shrinks drastically.  When we attempt to do everything ourselves, not only do we lose time in general, but we also lose productive hours.

Successfully outsourcing, automating, and delegating work allows you to hand over tasks to others whose skills are better aligned to accomplish that specific task.  Passing off tasks allows you the time to reflect, develop strategies and prepare for what is ahead.

7. Failing To Take Time Off

Most of us have heard of the concept of “work-life balance,” but many of us, especially those with demanding jobs, brush it aside as an impossible goal.  Yet as difficult as it may be, failing to take time off from work can have disastrous consequences for your productivity, particularly if you blur the lines between work life and home life.  Ultimately, this avoidance of a proper time away from work will result in an impact to health, which will, without a shadow of a doubt, end in ‘burnout’

8. Asking For Too Much Advice

You may think that asking for lots of input, ideas, and opinions may make your decision making better.  However, studies show that this is not always the case.  Often, having meetings and brainstorming sessions can result in unnecessary time wasting.  Good ideas can get missed when people only discuss and get hung up on the first few ideas to be mentioned.  This does not mean that you should never include others in what’s happening in the business, but you must use innovation time wisely.

Ultimately, as the Business Owner, it’s down to you to make the decisions that will take your business forward successfully.

9. Being A Perfectionist

 While you may think that perfectionism is the key to any worthwhile project/task, it’s actually an enemy of productivity. Perfectionism can lead to procrastination.  So, if you’re someone who obsesses over every nitpicky detail, keep this in mind.  When you’ve finished a task, allow yourself to settle for “good enough.”  Stop and ask yourself if your never-ending quest for perfection will really make your work better, keeping in mind that most of your effort to make it better probably won’t do so, and that you could put your time to better use elsewhere.

10. Neglecting Self-Care

Although you may think of bubble baths and spa days when you hear the term “self-care,” it can be defined as anything you do to connect with yourself, including supporting your mental, emotional, and physical health.  Aside from taking a day off now and then and making sure you get enough sleep, self-care can also include eating healthily, getting some exercise, especially if it’s outdoors, meeting a friend or two for coffee, or skipping out on chores so you can curl up with a good book.  Remember, if you deplete your energy levels, your productivity will suffer.

Hopefully by giving yourself the best possible chance to be productive, and by reducing some of the distractions within your business, you can start to get time back on your side. What other areas sap your time? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment.