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5 hacks to stop you wasting precious work time

You’re a busy person and there aren’t enough hours in the day. Well, we’re stuck with the number of hours we’ve got, but there are a few ways to make working time as productive as it can be. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t involve chaining yourself to your desk.)

Have a read of these time wasters and how to overcome them. You might be surprised how many of them sound familiar.

Stop equating more time at your desk with greater productivity

If you’re in front of your computer for 3 hours, you didn’t do a full 3 hours of work. We’re sorry to break it to you, but you need to know. We like to think we’re productivity machines and nothing can stop us, but it’s not really humanly possible to be 100% efficient all the time.

Regular breaks throughout the day improve productivity, so if you’re struggling to focus, don’t keep beating yourself over the head with it and take a break. It’s as simple as going outside for a walk, grabbing a coffee, or sparing ten minutes for an oh-so-stereotypical water cooler chat. None of this is a waste of time; it’s improving your concentration when you get back to your desk.

Automate as much of the dull stuff as possible

We live in a wonderful world full of apps and software, many of which are designed to automate stuff we don’t really want to do. Sending invoices[HM1] , categorising your to-do, and sharing deadlines – there are fairly inexpensive ways to automate these processes and save yourself bags of time.

The tasks we have to do over and over again cumulatively eat into our time, but that doesn’t make them any less essential. Invoices need to be chased, but you don’t have to chase them yourself.

One thing at once…

We shouldn’t really gender multitasking, because it’s actually not possible for any of us to truly multitask and stay productive. If you try to pay attention in a meeting and send a couple of emails on the sly at the same time, you’re going to do both of those things badly.

The Institute of Psychiatry did a study into IQ a few years ago, and found that multitasking actually damages your IQ score. Trying to complete the various tasks while also doing something else gave participants the same score as an 8 year-old.

Be strict with emails and messaging.

Going back and forth between tasks, much like multitasking, can make it quite hard to focus. One of the peskiest interruptions is the ding of an email notification, and the average person checks their phone an incredible 221 times a day.

As long as you know there’s nothing urgent to respond to, allocate a period of time every hour just to emails and messages. It takes quite a bit of self-control to break the habit of checking alerts as soon as you get them, but it really pays off when you realise how much more productive you are without those constant digital disturbances.

Be honest with yourself

If you surround yourself with other business owners, it’s inevitable that you’ll compare yourselves. Just like no one can multitask and no one can actually concentrate for hours at a time, no one really knows what happens in another person’s head. Forget the comparisons and the perception of how hard everyone’s working, and think about how you work best.

Mornings might not be your most productive time of day, you might function really well in the middle of the night. It’s not always easy to fit this around business hours, but you can allocate the most important things to those midnight bursts of inspiration.

There’s no right way to do it, work when you know you’re the most productive.


After saving all that time, you’ll want to find out where you keep wasting money too. Download our free e-book - Uncover your hidden cash with these simple hacks

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