We place more value on our time these days than ever before, and yet distractions are everywhere. In this age of connectivity, the interconnectedness of our world can make it difficult to focus on the task at hand, especially when we’re sat at a desk.

The statistics that back this up are alarming: nearly 9 in 10 employees waste at least half an hour a day, with 16% wasting around 2 hours daily. Much of this time can be traced back to a handful of bad habits that most of us share. Recognising and combating them can propel your productivity skywards, and that of your employees. We recommend you first focus on what you can do to remove time-wasting activities from your day, and then help your employees do the same.

Read on to see how you can avoid falling into the same old traps and buck the trend.

Cut your notifications

Technology continues to be the chief source of time-wasting at work, with phone calls, texting, internet browsing, and social media among the biggest distractions. One of the simplest ways to combat this is to reduce the frequency of your notifications.

You can switch off all notifications completely, or leave your phone in a locker or other secure place, however, if you need your phone and some notifications for work (e.g. phone calls) then there are still t hings you can do to reduce the number and frequency of alerts. Try setting emails and apps to refresh every half hour or even less frequently, instead of relaying instant push notifications that demand your attention and break your focus. The likelihood is that if someone needs information from your urgently, they’ll call you anyway. Make notifications for less work-oriented media, like Facebook, even sparser.

Save browsing time for breaks

When you do allow yourself to catch up on the latest social media or news developments, do so in a pre-determined, dedicated break period. Not only will you be able to get through your notifications more quickly with your undivided attention, but having a break to look forward to as you work will enable you to focus more.

Be strict about what’s essential for work and what’s just a distraction you turn to when you can’t concentrate. For the vast majority, social media definitely falls into the second category—browsing friends' photos and updates is not necessarily something that will boost your productivity!

Multitask rarely, and with the right balance

Now that you’re free from distractions, you can tackle the different tasks you have to get done today. But are you better off tackling them two or three at a time or one by one? The latter approach is more effective far more often than people realise.

In fact, multitasking on the wrong sort of tasks can decrease your productivity by up to 40%. The cognitive load of focusing on two things at once is too much for our brains to handle if we want to deliver peak performance.

So how should you multitask? The only way for most people to do it successfully is to combine cognitive and non-cognitive tasks. Limit the load on your brain to a single objective. Listening to a podcast while running? Totally achievable. But writing an email while talking on the phone? You bet there will be mistakes there!

Keep communication to the point

If you cut out inefficient multitasking, you will notice that you achieve things more quickly when you give them your full attention. You’ll also notice that inefficient use of your time, like meetings or conversations which drag on unnecessarily, will slow down your focus and productivity even more.

The solution? Trim the fat. Aim to achieve the same outcomes in your communication in half the time. Don’t be rude, but do get to the point sooner, stick to pertinent details, and push for resolutions. With this and the other tips here, you’ll be amazed at how much time you can save.


About the author

Jake Waller is a wordsmith who plies his trade here at Findmyshift. He uses his background in engineering to simplify complex topics for a variety of tech firms. When not writing for Findmyshift he blogs under a pseudonym at My Name is Skylance and has a passion for creative writing and editing, about which he's always talking on Twitter.