You waste time and you know it. You check Facebook. Watch television. Surf the Internet. You’re hardly alone. Most of us engage in these activities from time to time and are totally aware they’re wasteful uses of our time. I’m not worried about those. We choose to dig those graves and enjoy lying in them. What I’m worried about is the graves we unintentionally dig and fall into haphazardly. You should be worried too! I’m talking about wasting time on repetitive activities that we don’t even realize are wasteful. The good news is it’s possible to recognize those activities, decrease the time it takes to complete them, or totally avoid them altogether. I’ll show you how.
According to Peter Drucker, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” That’s hard to argue to with. Doing something occasionally though, whether or not it’s necessary, is not a huge waste of time. It’s the compounded minutes spent on activities we do all the time, as part of our daily or weekly routine, that really add up. In fact, according to a recent survey sponsored by Office, the “Top Time Killer” is email, followed by meetings. Even though both of these activities are often necessary, the length of time spent engaging in them is not. If you were able to decrease the amount of time you spent checking emails and sitting in meetings by two hours each week, could you use those extra two hours to, oh I don’t know, call new leads, network, or spend time with your family? I think we’d all appreciate a few more hours each week to do the activities that bring us closer to achieving our goals and vision of success without working extra hours.
There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. ~ Peter DruckerClick To Tweet
Once you decide which activities are wasting time and stop engaging in them, you can reallocate that time toward productive activities. So how do you decide which activities waste time? When I work with my clients individually to increase their personal productivity, I use a series of questions to identify which of their activities are wasteful. You can do it too. Prior to asking those questions, however, you have to be very clear about your goals and vision of success. Then, you’re able to objectively evaluate the worth of each activity you do on a regular basis, no matter how small. Once you are clear on your goals, you can ask yourself the following three questions:
- Is this activity necessary?
No? Eliminate it.
Yes? Then ask…
- Are you the person who should be doing this activity?
No? Delegate it to a qualified person.
Yes? Then ask…
- Are you doing this activity as efficiently as possible?
The answers to the last question may be a bit tricky so here are some helpful hints:
- Use technology? Maximize the technology you already have and use. Get training if needed. (e.g., send email instead of costly snail mail that requires printing, licking, stamping, and addressing)
- Do it less frequently? (e.g., change Daily Reports to Weekly Reports if they’re seldom referenced)
- Automate it? (e.g., use posting sites like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule posts across various social media at once)
- Create a template? (e.g., create common email responses and signatures that can be used repeatedly)
- Create a checklist? Easily see which tasks should be accomplished next so you don’t waste time thinking about it.
- Eliminate steps? Dissect large, multi-step processes. Certain steps may be unnecessary or combined.
- Change the time of day? Difficult tasks should be completed during periods of maximum focus and energy.
Answering these questions and implementing their answers will help you avoid wasting time. You will be able to accomplish your repetitive tasks with more efficiency and free up more time to focus on high-priority tasks such as prospecting, client appointments, and business development. After all, as Brian Tracy wrote in Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, “One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not to be done at all.”
Objectively evaluate each activity within your routine to decide whether it is worth your time. ~ Amber De La GarzaClick To Tweet
If you can minimize or eliminate the activities you do as part of your daily work routine by just 15 minutes, you can reallocate a total of 65 hours per year to activities that lead you toward achieving your goals. Now that’s a perfect reason to stop wasting time on pointless activities!
Take Action Challenge:
Commit to decreasing the time it takes to complete one step in your daily work routine.