If you’re like most self-driven workers, at this point you’re thinking to yourself, “I believe that, but that’s not me. I’m not the type of person who wastes time.” This is because you don’t waste time deliberately — unfortunately, most forms of wasting time are sneaky and go beneath your notice until it’s too late to do anything about them. You could be wasting hours every day without even realizing it.
We all have rituals at the office — small routines that we do every day, some of which are productive and most of which are not. You might circle by the water cooler, making small talk for the first 15 minutes of the day, or you might start out by reading the news for 20 minutes.
While not always a waste of time, the danger here comes in not being conscious of your time spent. Human beings tend to forget individual repetitions of long-term routines (the way you often forget driving home from work), meaning you’re spending this time doing rituals without even realizing what you’re doing. Taking breaks and reading the news aren’t necessarily bad things, but they can put a damper on your total productivity.
Distractions are a major cause of time loss, and this is well-documented. Most people understand the obvious, superficial distractions that catch their eye in the middle of a project — for example, you might check #Facebook instead of working through that tough problem or shop online between tasks.
We all waste time, so don’t try and kid yourself. Whether you’re a young kid at a temp job trying to relieve your boredom by browsing the Internet or an experienced CEO who can’t focus on what he needs to, time-wasting is painfully common in workplaces all across the U.S. According to recent data, the vast majority of employees know they waste 30 minutes or more every day, with 4 percent wasting half the day or more — and that’s not accounting for self-reporting biases!
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