Are You Wasting Time at Work?

Lauren Krause
Posted by in Administrative & Clerical Services

For administrative assistants, time management is crucial to a productive workday. Wasting time can increase stress and cause you to get behind on important assignments. If deadlines stress you out and you find yourself scrambling at the end of the workday, evaluate your time management skills. Here are a few ways you might be wasting time at work and tips for getting back on track.


Email can be an incredible distraction during the workday. conducted a survey of the top 10 time wasters, and email was at the top of the list. Up to a third of survey respondents reported spending between one and two hours at work just checking email each day. If this sounds familiar, it's time to take control. Emails arrive all day long, so set aside certain blocks of time throughout the day to tend to them. Create subfolders in your inbox to keep your emails organized.

Lack of Planning

If you try to attack each workday without a plan of action, you're probably wasting time. Each morning, create a list of tasks and goals for the day. Organize the list in order of importance, and monitor your progress throughout the day. If you find yourself lagging behind on one or more tasks, shift your focus to another task you can perform quickly and easily. Checking things off your to-do list gives you the refreshing jolt of motivation you need to get the more daunting tasks completed.

Interruptions and Distractions

For administrative assistants, interruptions are sometimes a daily occurrence. Are you wasting time tending to too many outside distractions? Next time a co-worker comes by to ask about something while you're in the middle of something, make it clear you're working. Acknowledge your co-worker's presence, and ask what you can help with, but do not lift your hands from your keyboard or desk. Your body language should send the message that you're busy and can't be pulled away at this time. Sometimes you need to be more direct — let the person know that you're busy now but would love to follow up with the request at a later time.

Just Say No

It can be tempting for administrative assistants to want to put everything on their plate. But if you're already overwhelmed with duties, adding more only increases stress. If you drop everything to tend to a request that is out of your scope of work or assigned duties, you're wasting time when you could be taking care of more important things. Don't attend meetings where your presence isn't absolutely essential, or at least try to schedule them back to back so that your entire workday isn't overrun with them.

Improving your time management during the workday has positive effects on your stress level, mood and productivity. Planning ahead, setting aside blocks of time for specific activities such as checking emails, and learning how to say no to additional responsibilities are great ways to avoid wasting time and improve the flow of your workday.

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