The main part of this article comes from the Timely Blog article: https://memory.ai/timely-blog/ways-we-waste-time/.
Our workflow is built on a set of habits and processes that we rarely question. While on the surface they may seem productive, these repetitive actions can severely limit our ability to create value every day. We should first understand the main ways employees may unintentionally waste their work time, and then use Timesheet to reduce those time-wasting behaviors.
1. Let email organize our day
It is a classic story—while you are working hard on an important project, a new email notification flashes by and you drop everything you have been doing to reply. Most of us feel guilty about it, but we should remember that an email is just a form of communication and it should not completely rewrite our day. By becoming slaves to the inbox, we prioritize new, trivial tasks over the critical ones that move us forward. We are constantly adding more tasks to our to-do list and our focus is disrupted when we interrupt tasks to check emails. What we need to do is to set a specific time to check your inbox and reply to emails and stick to it.
2. Put small tasks before important things
When your to-do list is as long as your arm, it is natural to want to get things done as quickly as possible, which is why many of us start with small, unimportant tasks. But the desire to make progress through your to-do list can come at the expense of working on the things that really matter. The number of tasks you complete can give you a sense of progress, but unless those tasks bring real value to your wider work, they may not be that useful. Prioritize the most important things and get them done first.
3. Be a passive meeting participant
For the most part, many meetings are very inefficient. Research shows that executives spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings, 8 of which are ineffective. About 90% of people daydream in meetings, and 73% used the time to do other work. Think about how many times you have sat in silence without adding anything to the conversation or contributing to the debate. Should you be there if you do not add anything? Consider which meetings are actually critical to you and drive an opt-in approach. Remember, meetings are expensive——be sure to ask if more efficient channels are available before scheduling a meeting.
4. Schedule time between meetings
Another way meetings waste time is to reduce the time you spend doing real, productive work outside of meetings. No quality in-depth work is done in the 30-minute interval between meetings - when you find your process and get stuck, it is time to move on to the next one. Always try to schedule back-to-back meetings to make the work week more focused!
5. Repeat the effort
For most of us, we repeat certain procedures or methods even when we start a brand new task. Whether writing the same sentence in an email, designing a new infographic from scratch, or finding a specific web tool page is a waste of time. Save as much time and effort as possible and use templates and shortcuts.
6. Choose manual over automation
Automation frees you from all the low-value, boring jobs you hate, whether it is filling out expenses, tracking your time, taking meeting notes, organizing your inbox or manually moving data between different work tools or spreadsheets. The number of things that can be automated is only going to increase, so it is worth doing some research to understand what non-productive tasks can be outsourced. This is one of the easiest ways to free up your time and energy for jobs that require the skills you are hired for.
7. Believe in being busy
Many people equate busyness with productivity, but in reality, being busy can be a major waste of time. When we are too busy, our attention spans; we jump from task to task, and we refuse to rest. We try to reassure ourselves that we are doing well. It’s not our fault, to be sure—many workplace cultures create an environment where immediate availability is a sign of engagement and meeting attendance is a status signal. But to be truly productive, we need time to let our minds wander, take a break, and say “no” to superficial work that keeps us visibly busy without creating any substantial value.
Timesheet supports employees to record their working hours by work category, task, etc., allowing them to reflect on their time utilization to identify and remove unimportant tasks that waste time. Based on the timesheets submitted by employees, managers can find out who is overloaded and who is available and adjust the work arrangement. If they find that an employee's schedule is unreasonable, such as prioritizing small unimportant tasks, they can urge him to modify his plan. Automated analysis of data can also free up time for managers to complete other important tasks.