Three Ways You're Probably Wasting Time in Your Workday

Julie Shenkman
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In the administrative and clerical field, it's important to know how much of your time at work is spent productively. Improving your time management skills will prevent you from wasting time, greatly increase your number of productive, satisfying workdays, and reduce unnecessary stress and the pressure of unmet deadlines and half-finished tasks. Learn a few of the most common ways you may be wasting time at work and techniques on how to turn it around.

One of the biggest ways of wasting time at work is constantly checking email. For administrative and executive assistants, checking and sending email can feel like a full-time job all on its own, and it can be difficult not to check each one as they roll in. However, if the first thing you do when you sit down at your desk is begin checking email for the day, you're doing yourself a great disservice. The email will continue to come throughout the day no matter what you're working on, so it's a better strategy to designate blocks of time throughout the workday specifically for checking and responding to email. Your contacts will still get a timely response, and you can improve productivity by putting your full focus into other important tasks.Any great administrative or executive assistant knows the value of prioritizing. Putting daily tasks in order from large to small or difficult to easy can help you organize your attack plan, but you may be surprised to learn that you are wasting time and hurting your productivity by focusing on larger, more complicated tasks first. If you're able to complete a small, simple task in just a few minutes, go ahead and complete it, advises David Allen, author of "Getting Things Done." By tackling smaller items on your to-do list, you avoid the end-of-day mishmash. You also get a greater sense of accomplishment knowing that you've completed several tasks and at least made some headway on the larger ones.

Another major time waster at work is social media. With a job requiring you to sit at a desk for hours at a time, it is easy to become distracted online. Posting updates, scanning your news feed and communicating with friends can feel like a great way to break up the monotony of the workday and relieve some stress, but letting it get out of hand can seriously derail your productivity. It's unrealistic to expect yourself to be completely focused on work for a full 8-hour shift, so be reasonable with yourself. Set aside designated times to check your social media accounts quickly, and then get right back to work. You'll improve productivity and still feel connected without losing sight of important tasks at work.

Improving the way you manage your time at work can have incredible benefits to your productivity and stress level. Setting aside blocks of time to check email and social media and completing simple tasks before tackling larger ones are effective ways to avoid wasting time and improve your efficiency.

(Photo courtesy of Suat Eman at


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