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7 Tasks You Do Every Day That Waste Time And Cost Your Business Money

Make sure your employees aren’t engaging in these time-wasting activities.

John Boitnott

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No business is 100 percent productive all day, every day. On-site employees will stand by the coffeepot in the morning, discussing last night’s game at length. Remote workers will take a few minutes to let the dog out or have a conversation with a neighbour, who stopped by. Both types of employees will occasionally take long lunch breaks, and check their personal social media accounts throughout the day.

While these small interruptions cut into a business’ bottom line, they aren’t the only productivity thieves companies have. In fact, some of the biggest time-wasters are things leaders themselves ask employees to do.

Here are seven tasks employees engage in every day that hurt a business’ bottom line.

1. Unnecessary meetings

In numerous surveys, employees list meetings as one of the top time-wasters in their workplaces. This includes unnecessary meetings as well as those that take longer than they should. If you’re in a position to tame meetings in your organisation, consider implementing a system where meetings happen only when necessary. When meetings do take place, an agenda can keep everyone on track to avoid side conversations, which waste everyone’s time.

Related: 3 Sure Fire Ways To Improve Efficiency And Find Your Business’s Productivity Sweet Spot

2. Unnecessary reports

That report you’re compiling on the number of applications you process or the number of products manufactured may be important only to you. If management has requested a particular report, there’s little you can do, of course. But, if you’re voluntarily putting these reports together and sending them to everyone, determine which ones have value.

You may be able to convince your boss that your time is better spent on more important tasks.

outdated-business-systems-and-processes

3. Outdated processes

Businesses still waste time doing things the way they did them 10 years ago. Paper-based, manual processes take extra time, and over the course of the year, those minutes add up to hours, days and weeks. Do a thorough audit of your job, and question why you do things a certain way, then look for a replacement method that might save time.

4. Too much communication

Back in the time when when employees needed to discuss something, they’d either pick up the phone or walk to each other’s offices.

Today, this communication is increasingly happening over email or chat, which are seen as easier ways to share ideas, and get answers to questions. However, in the time it takes to have an email or chat conversation, an employee could have cleared the issue up with a quick phone call.

Employees should reconsider using email and chat only for certain discussions because those methods tend to involve numerous delays or back-and-forth messages.

Related: The Art And Process Of Achieving Mega-Productivity

5. Unimportant data

With so many analytics tools available, businesses can easily access real-time data on almost every area of operations. However, not all of this information is useful. As more companies realise the value of extracting data, there will be growing pains, forcing companies to determine which data is important and which doesn’t matter.

6. Responding to distractions

In today’s open-plan offices, it’s easy to get distracted. A meeting on speakerphone, a chatty conversation in the hallway or a chronic cougher can pull you away from the task at hand.

This only becomes more complicated when coworkers drop by to talk about various things. If possible, find a quiet place to work when you’re trying to get things done. If not, invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones that will help you focus when distractions are all around.

Related: 7 Tools To Increase Productivity And Efficiency

7. Complaining and gossiping

Team-building is important in any organisation, but employee interactions should always be productive. While everyone enjoys venting occasionally, complaining and gossiping with coworkers can hurt your career.

Management will see you as negative and those coworkers who are the topic of your conversations, will take it personally. Strive to be seen as a positive force in the workplace rather than an instigator or a chronic complainer.

As hard as you strive to be productive during the workweek, there are inevitable distractions and time-wasters. By identifying the tasks which are affecting your productivity, and taking measures to minimise them, you’ll be able to boost your career prospects and help your employer reach a higher level.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV

The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.

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The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

What You Put In Is What You Get Out – Create Your Own Success

The secret to curating a successful life starts with what you put in.

Allon Raiz

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You are what you eat, the saying goes. Your physical and even mental health are highly dependent on what you eat (or consume) daily. There are four fundamental factors of a system:  Input, boundaries, purpose and output. All systems are mostly defined by the combination of these four factors.

A professional athlete will be very diligent about what they consume in order to achieve the best possible outcome, and sprinters will have different guides and regimes to marathon runners. Essentially, high performing athletes curate their input, or design their own lives, to produce a favourable output.

The same is true of the high-performance entrepreneur — they too should be curating their input, not just in terms of what they consume through their mouths but more importantly, what they consume with their ears and eyes.

Related: For Shatty Mashego Success Lies In Maintaining A Positive Mindset

Positive inputs

A few years ago, I began to recognise that even though I might wake up in a good space in the morning, by 10am I would be feeling negative regardless of my daily practices. I had already established the discipline of recording and recognising my successes daily, as well as repeating daily affirmations and visualisations, yet within a few hours of starting my day, I found myself in a negative space.

I couldn’t figure out what was causing this; but after some analysis I realised that my daily routine included listening to talk radio on the way to work, catching up with the news on Twitter before my first meeting, and reading the morning paper which was neatly laid out on my desk. It quickly became clear that my negativity could be attributed to my over-consumption of bad news.

Each communication platform — from Twitter to the radio — has the power to depress anyone who consumes its news, but the combination of all three was toxic to me. It affected my mood, concentration and, invariably, my output. In a single decision, I eliminated these three platforms from my daily ‘diet’ and instead curated a different morning experience to see whether it would change the output. Instead of the radio, I decided to listen to either music or an audiobook; instead of Twitter, I decided to call a friend; and I didn’t renew my newspaper subscription.

The results were instantaneous. This experiment set me on a mission to see what else I could deliberately curate and design, so I began to strategically design my life to inform the successful and positive output that I desired. I subscribed to online newsletters that were informative and thought-provoking, such as Brain Food by Shane Parish; I cajoled my management team to begin listening to audiobooks at the same time that I was doing so to ensure that we included positive discussions in our bi-monthly meetings; and I ensured that there were always three litres of water in my immediate surrounds to encourage a healthier lifestyle.

Create your own success

In case you haven’t experienced the lightbulb moment yet, the simple explanation is this: All systems have inputs and outputs, and the quality of the input results in the quality of the output.

If you see yourself as the curator of your input and as the architect of your environment, you can start to create the inputs, set the boundaries and define purposes to result in the output that commands entrepreneurial success.

Related: Daily Practices for Cultivating a Positive Work Culture to Support Your Business

If something really affects the quality of your life — whether it’s your attitude, your mood or the clarity of your thought processes — it’s time to relook the design and start to curate an environment that is conducive to your success.

And, if you’re concerned about missing out on what’s happening, always remember that, if a news report or update has a direct impact on your life, the chances are high that you will hear it through your friends and family.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

Follow These 8 Steps To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals

Decrease the amount of noise in your head.

Nina Zipkin

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Accomplishing a goal can be hard work. But even if a project is something you are passionate about and want to complete, distractions such as social media, doubts and other tasks can make it nearly impossible to concentrate on it. Don’t fret. We’re here to help.

Check out these eight steps to help you prioritise and clear your mind.

1. Stop multitasking

Instead of trying to do a million things at once, take a step back and tackle one task at a time. And while your inclination might be to start your day with busy work – like checking emails – and then move onto to the harder things, you should try to get your brain moving by challenging yourself with with a bigger, more creative endeavor first thing.

Related: Goal Setting Guide

2. Block out your days

A good way to hold yourself accountable when it comes to quieting the noise all around you is to specifically block out time in your day – maybe it’s 30 minutes or an hour – to spend on a given project.

Colour code your calendar or set a timer to make sure you are accomplishing the goal at hand.

3. Get your blood pumping

going-for-a-walk

You can’t focus if your are stuck inside and staring at a screen all day long. Turn off your computer and phone, and go for a walk for 20 minutes. The fresh air and the movement will clear your head. Also make sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough rest.

4. Help your technology help you

A platform like RescueTime, a software that runs while you work and shows you how you are spending your day, could help you understand why something is taking longer to complete than it should. Options like Cold TurkeyFreedom and Self Control block out the internet entirely to keep you off your Twitter feed when you should be meeting deadlines.

5. Meditate

Get a recommendation for a yoga or meditation class, or even make it an office outing so everyone get some time to quiet their minds. Or look online for a plethora of apps and platforms whose stock and trade is mindfulness, like Meditation Made SimpleCalm and Headspace.

For slightly more of a monetary investment, you could look into wearable tech like Thync, a device that produces electrical pulses to help your brain decrease stress.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win

6. Change up what’s in your headphones

headphones

While background noise might help block out a loud office or construction outside your window, you need to be careful that what you are listening to isn’t distracting you more.

Music with lyrics can sap your focus from the task in front of you, so consider trying classical or electronic music instead. Or use a playlist that is familiar to you, so you aren’t tempted to turn all your attention to the new sound.

7. Streamline your communication

If you find that all of your focus gets trained on getting your inbox down to zero, think about how you can get yourself out from under a relentless deluge of email. Ask yourself and your colleagues to think about whether this conversation would be most effective through email, on the phone or in person.

Taking five minutes to walk over to someone else’s workspace will save you the time and energy invested into a redundant email chain and clarify how you want to attack a problem more quickly.

Related: 7 Steps To Achieving Our Higher-Level Goals

8. Find an environment with the right kind of noise

To be the most effective, you need to strike a delicate balance between too much noise and total silence. According to David Burkus, an associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University, “some level of office banter in the background might actually benefit our ability to do creative tasks, provided we don’t get drawn into the conversation,” Burkus wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

“Instead of total silence, the ideal work environment for creative work has a little bit of background noise. That’s why you might focus really well in a noisy coffee shop, but barely be able to concentrate in a noisy office.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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