Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Entrepreneurs and business leaders wish for nothing more than unlimited time and funds but that is not reality. Most of you have experienced days where with a blink of an eye six hours have gone by and you feel like you have not accomplished anything. Productivity is both a feeling and also data-driven as you should be able to validate your feeling of being productive by looking at what you have accomplished on a given day or week. If you want to be super productive you have to eliminate or decrease time-wasters so you can focus on what drives value. In this article, I’m going to talk about what I consider to be the biggest time wasters.
Comparing Yourself To Others
Entrepreneurs often get stuck in the comparison trap, worrying about what their competitors are doing. This can lead you down a rabbit hole where you spend hours looking for information. In contrast, if you are a leader in an organization, you can get caught up worrying about other departments or people and getting consumed with politics or drama that only lives in your head. While healthy competition is great, stick to your instincts and focus on yourself and your market, instead of constantly comparing yourself to others and allowing external forces to cloud your mind and judgment.
There are two types of delegating. Delegating tasks and projects to internal teams and delegating personal to-do lists and chores. If you are constantly re-doing team member’s work then you need to start looking inwards first. Did you provide a clear direction? Did you set up the person to win or fail? You must trust your team and you must set them up to win, otherwise, you will waste a lot of your time re-doing work or taking on tasks and projects yourself that others should be doing. If you are an entrepreneur or executive, you need an assistant. This can be a full-time assistant, a part-time virtual assistant, or using one of the many services available to hire people for specific tasks. Your time is too valuable to waste it on mundane tasks.
Improvising Your Day
When you start your workday do you know what you need to focus on or do you wing it? Entrepreneurs and business leaders are pulled in many directions as they tend to be an escalation point. Without a plan for your day and instead relying on improvising based on what happens, you will waste a lot of time being dragged into situations. Have a plan for your day in advance, which includes allocating time for urgent fires or anything unknown that needs immediate attention.
Being A Perfectionist
Chasing perfection is like chasing a ghost and it will kill your productivity and throw you off. You should have high standards and deliver the best quality product or project but you should be realistic and use outside feedback to help dictate if your work is of high quality. By seeking feedback you might discover what you thought was not good is actually really good for the customers or audience you were doing the work for. After all, they are the final judge. Not you. In contracts, you should be ok accepting failure or receiving negative feedback. This should be looked at as a learning and improvement opportunities. Not something that consumes you mentally and wastes even more time.
Office Chit-Chat, Gossip, Meaningless Meeting
Chit-chat and water cooler conversation are part of all office cultures but getting too caught up in the gossip can result in time being wasted as you might be pulled into some office politics or personal issue you have no business being involved in. For those of you working from home, have you noticed how much more productive you are at home with this being eliminated? Yes, there are other distractions at home that might have taken its place but you should still be able to notice the change. In the same way, meaningless meetings are a big time waster. If you are the meeting owner, have a clear agenda, and communicate what the outcome of your meeting is. If you are an attendee, demand an agenda and ask what the outcome of the meeting is. Your actions might lead to a very positive culture change.
Phone notifications are one of the biggest distractions in this day and age. I have notifications turned off on all my apps except for the notifications from the security cameras at the house. The start and stop notifications cause will lead to a project taking three times longer to complete. The new Facebook message, a news article about your favorite sports team, and almost everything else that triggers a notification can wait until the next time you launch the app.
Consuming Excess Media
Social Media, TV, and unhelpful books and magazines are all huge time wasters. Everything in moderation but if you are scrolling social media feeds for an hour or more each day, are watching 5 different shows at the same time each week and spending most of your reading time on fiction books and gossip magazines, you have a huge opportunity to scale back and become more productive.
Inefficient Use Of Tools
The purpose of tools is to make you more productive but far too often you don’t take the time to understand the tools you use and either scratch the surface or use it incorrectly. Besides sending an email or creating a meeting invite, when was the last time you used some of the more advanced functionality in outlook? Take inventory of the tools you use most often and invest the time in learning them. It will pay off.
So there you have my top time wasters for entrepreneurs and business leaders. If you start cutting back on these a few at a time, you will soon free up hours each week. This will make your working hours more productive and help you to achieve more.
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