5 Top Time Thieves and How to Overcome Them
Time thieves are activities that cut in your working day out of the blue. They disrupt your concentration and distract you from your priorities, taking half your day without you noticing. This may include things such as answering your phone while working on a presentation or report, inability to say ‘no,’ procrastination, or visitors that pop up by your office desk.
Time thieves make it challenging to absorb yourself in work again, disturbing your efficiency and productivity at work.
5 Top Time Thieves
In a world where efficiency becomes a priority, time thieves can be a great source of stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
The first step in beating your time thieves is recognizing them as such. So, here are 5 top time thieves at work.
1. Distractions and Interruptions
Whether you work from the office or your home, distractions and interruptions are inevitable during your working hours. From helping our kids with homework to checking our social media, there are always things we shouldn’t be doing during our working day.
It is one thing to scroll through feeds on your coffee break and a whole other to spend the entire morning lost in it.
Phone calls, emails, colleagues stopping by your desk, and other interruptions not only waste your time but can also upset your concentration and make it difficult to focus on your work once again.
Procrastination is the habit of postponing essential tasks or decisions while focusing on less urgent but more pleasant things to do or think about.
This time thief is one of the biggest time-wasters at work. How many times do you make yet another coffee break, watch a YouTube video, grab a snack, or simply sit daydreaming during your working day?
Do you keep putting off an important presentation, spending time on less significant work-related tasks instead?
Leaving everything until later wastes your time and can lead to self-sabotage. It can weaken your performance, hinder success, and cause dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
However, understanding why you procrastinate and identifying the most common types of procrastination can help you eliminate this inhibiting behavior or at least minimize it.
3. Too Much Work in Progress
Too much work in progress (WIP) relates to work you have started but not yet finished. People who struggle with saying ‘no’ often find themselves overwhelmed by too much work to do.
Learning to say ‘no’ to every task or request can help reduce your WIP, allowing you to focus on completing the most critical tasks.
4. Poor Goal Setting
Poor goal setting is a significant time waster that often leads to disorganization, unplanned work, procrastination, and unproductivity.
Setting reasonable, clearly defined goals provides vision and motivation, helping you stay organized, and motivates you to acquire knowledge and develop new skills.
5. Conflicting Priorities
When we are uncertain of the most important things to do, we tend to get stuck in conflicting priorities – tasks or projects in progress that compete with each other. This usually leads to the risk of procrastination, as we may tend to delay everything to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Lack of prioritization can also lead to work overload and burnout. To overcome this time thief, reevaluate your priorities and regularly make the checklists of the most important things to do.
Practice saying ‘no’ to taking on more tasks to manage and communicate regularly with your colleagues.
Methods to Help with Time Management
Many of us sometimes struggle with our time management, losing a lot of time on irrelevant things yet staying chained to our office chairs for the most part. By the end of the day, we found ourselves wondering where our day went.
Here are some strategies to help with your time management and beat the time thieves that break into your working day.
1. Time Blocking
Time blocking involves dividing a period of time into smaller segments of blocks designed for specific tasks. You can use this time management technique to divide your working day or week into sections, address the tasks in a smaller time frame, and do them with intention and attention.
Time blocking allows you to set priorities, minimize distractions, increase productivity, and alleviate stress.
2. Limiting Distractions
Consider disconnecting your phone while working and resist the urge to check your emails often. Also, learning to say ‘no’ to your kids’ demands for attention during your working hours at home and ask your coworkers to stop coming to you when you are doing an important job.
3. Setting Boundaries
Working from home may quickly become overwhelming. However, working remotely still doesn’t mean that you are available all the time. If you have young kids, make clear that you can’t play or help with homework before you finish your job.
Designate different areas of your home as work and relaxing spaces if possible.
Set boundaries at the office by avoiding toxic coworkers, saying ‘no’ to overwhelming demands and expectations, and practicing relaxation exercises on your breaks.
Self-awareness is essential to our sense of emotional balance and well-being. It is an integral aspect of emotional intelligence that is incredibly valuable in the workplace.
Self-awareness is about understanding your emotions and thoughts and having a sense of your personality. It can help you set healthy boundaries, identify your strengths and weaknesses, spot your negative thinking patterns, develop strategies to cope with stress effectively, and manage your time better.
Mindfulness at work is one of the best ways to manage stress and prevent burnout. Regular mindfulness exercises can improve your self-awareness. In addition, it can be an excellent way to take a mindful break from work and relax. This can improve your memory and concentration, helping you stay focused on important tasks at work.
Time thieves interrupt our working day unexpectedly, taking a toll on our ability to focus, productivity, and job success.
Effective time management strategies can help you set priorities, identify time wasters, and get more jobs done in a shorter time.
This, in turn, can reduce stress, boost your confidence, increase productivity, and foster career success.