Many of us wish we could whip our time management skills into shape to achieve maximum output and success. However, avoiding distractions and potential time wasters at home or in the office is not as easy as it may seem at first and for this reason, outlined below are some of the worst and most common time wasters. Can you spot which ones take up most of your time?

Distractions on the Telephone

You’re working on an important project and the boss would like to see the results soon, but suddenly your partner calls wanting to hear about your day. You should be squeezing every minute in this situation, but instead find yourself caught up in a call. Another common distraction and potential time waster we may encounter lies with the smartphone: making it easy for us to constantly check our Facebook and Twitter accounts, giving our minds something to do when we hit a creativity block. When this happens, important minutes are often lost which could be particularly fatal at work. To save time, it is normally wise to turn off your mobile phone, or at least utilise features such as priority mode, and soon you will see that those important presentation preparations are finished before you know it.

Paperwork Chaos

At your desk lies a stack of paperwork to sort out and amongst the chaos are small post-it notes of every hideous colour with little reminders on them such as “Meeting at 3 pm” or “Important: ring boss”. In such a working environment, it is bound to occur that you will become agitated and distracted. To avoid this and optimally use your time at work, you may find it worthwhile to invest in an organising system which does not involve the concept of just piling documents on top of each other. For example, you could organise your documents by colour, customers or projects.

Unnecessary Meetings

Work is where you are! However, sometimes we fall into the trap of having endless meetings where problems are simply discussed and no solution is found. This is a common time waster in the office and best avoided. In order to improve your time management skills, it is a good idea to have an agenda in mind. For example, use the opportunity before a meeting to email other participants about the purpose of the meeting. In this way, long and pointless discussions can be avoided, but as the famous saying goes, “too many cooks spoil the broth,” so only involve the concerned individuals in your email.

Priority Planning

Avoid distractions by optimising your time management. Everybody has done it: leaving all the unpleasant jobs until last by finishing off the small jobs first. This strategy is potentially harmful to our time management skills, because although we feel as if we have completed a large amount of work, the real priorities still remain pending – a real time waster.

You must decide how important a task or a call is. Whether you write an email, make a telephone call or start a new task, you should to organise your priorities into the following four categories:

1. Urgent

2. Put on the to do list

3. Delegate to others

4. Delete

Essentially, it is up to you how you manage your workload, because at the end of the day, if you lack self-discipline then nothing will be achieved.