I hear a lot of people talk about not having enough time in the day; however often it is simply because they are not managing their time. It’s like a child who is given his lunch money who then stops at the store to buy candy. He comes home at the end of the day telling his parents he didn’t have enough money for lunch, when in fact he did, he just wasted it on the wrong stuff. Often we have enough time in our days; we just spend it on the wrong stuff.   

I have seen people spending hours balancing checkbooks, drinking coffee in a friend’s office, on personal phone calls, searching the internet, taking long lunches, and even working other people’s projects, then hear them complain about not having enough time to do their work. They are just like the school boy who spent his money on candy; they wasted the minutes they had on the unimportant then couldn’t get what was truly a priority accomplished.

Most have no idea where their time goes because they aren’t keeping track. Treating your time like you would your budget is the only way to truly manage the moments of a day. Developing a schedule, no matter what your job might entail, helps you to recognize where you are wasting time and how to improve leveraging each moment.

Let’s look at a few time-wasters and ideas on how to better utilize your time.


  • Chit-Chat
    • WASTE: Water cooler chit-chat can be one of the biggest time-suckers of the day (and business calls that turn into the latest gossip session). Even if you’re not the one initiating the conversation it is easy to get caught by Ms. Emily’s weekend grandbaby stories.
    • VALUE:
      •  Avoid Eye-Contact: You know all Ms. Emily needs is an audience and one glance you will be it.
      • Put ear-phones in (even if no radio): This works whether walking or at your desk. People will keep walking and not talking if your ears are plugged.
      • Keep moving: Even if Ms. Emily gets started up, keep moving! Smile, acknowledge but don’t slow down.


  • Everready-Bunnies
    • WASTE: We all know that one person (maybe two) who loves to hear themselves talk. Whether in a meeting or at lunch, they are like the Everready-Bunny…they keep going and going and going and going.
    • VALUE:
      • Facilitate: You can facilitate conversations even if not in a formal meeting. Guide the conversation to stay on topic.
      • Keep a schedule: Keeping a schedule means that everything has a time in the day. Even if you have to make copies, it is on your schedule. Telling the Bunny that you have a scheduled task helps you break away.


  • Poorly Facilitated Meetings
    • WASTE: Just because someone has reached a certain level of management does not mean they know how to run a meeting. Not starting or ending on time, allowing people to beat a dead horse or rambling on about stories that have no relationship to the meeting purpose.
    • VALUE:
      • Agenda: No matter how impromptu a meeting, have an agenda. There has to be a beginning, middle and end. Stick to it.
      • Be Honest: Take some time off to the side to talk to the facilitator. Let him or her know that your time is valuable and that it would be beneficial for all if meetings stayed on track.


  • Distractions
    • WASTE: Technology is our greatest friend and….enemy! I have yet to see or hear of anyone who received a phone call, email or IM during a meeting that if they had not of replied the business would have shut its doors. Unless there is a special project or something out of the ordinary going on such as a sick family member, there is little reason to be IMing, texting, answering phones, or emailing during meetings.
    • VALUE:
      • Turn off technology
      • Leave technology at your desk


  • Knowing the “When”
    • WASTE: Not knowing the right time to bring up new topics. Opening up a whole new topic toward the end of a meeting, no matter how important, can be counterproductive. Just because something comes to mind does not mean that “now” is the time to mention it. Write it down and address it a more appropriate time.
    • VALUE:
      • Notes: Utilize your note pad to write down your thoughts for a better time.
      • Calendar Reminder: Place reminders in your electronic calendar to address later.


  • Know Your No
    • WASTE: The word “no” is a powerful word. While some people use the word to avoid work and responsibility (as in “it’s not my job), it is also a leader’s word. When a person knows his or her goals and what is important they learn to say no to things that take away from their day.
    • VALUE:
      • Know your job
      • Know your priorities
      • Know your no


What are your time-wasters and how do you overcome those things that take you off task? Help us all out (because we all do it) by sharing below.


Leave a Comment