There are two types of time killers in everyone's life. Unless you deal with both, you'll lose productive time every single day and be a lot less effective than you could be.
Some time killers are more of less common to most people. This article will tell you more about how to deal with them.
Apart from that, there are also other time killers that are highly specific to each individual. They have to do with your habits, personality and working style.
To eliminate such time wasters, the first and most essential step is to be a keen observer of how you spend your time. Once you have a handle on what specific habits or situations are robbing you of your time, you'll be better positioned to deal with those issues. And deal with them you must, if you want to be more productive.
Before you do that, let's look at six common problems that waste mammoth amounts of time and what you can do about them.
Time killer #1: Phone calls
Someone said that the telephone may be the most misused of all modern conveniences! Phones turn out to be time wasters instead of time savers because they're incorrectly used. Where do we go wrong in using phones?
Do you make the mistake of not starting a phone conversation correctly? When you telephone someone, you should straightaway identify yourself and ask for the person you want to speak to. Instead, if you get into a "who is speaking" routine, you waste valuable time even before the conversation has begun.
The other big issue is how long you chat on the phone. Phone conversations are best kept brief. Going on and on over the phone not only wastes time, but may also prevent someone else from reaching one of you with an urgent message.
Now that mobile phones are ubiquitous, a whole new range of phone usage problems have sprung up. If you answer a mobile phone while you are in a meeting with someone is obviously an irritant to that person. Unfortunately, most people give the person calling more importance than the person they are with, which is extremely bad etiquette.
If you must have a lengthy conversation on your mobile phone, at least excuse yourself and leave so that the other person is not left hanging while you chat and giggle on the phone.
Time killer #2: Machines that don't work well
In many organizations, this is a bigger time killer than many people realize. Examples: A photocopier that takes a long time to produce the first copy, a desk drawer that gets stuck all the time, a door knob that won't open the door till you jiggle it several times and so on.
Until such machinery is either repaired or replaced, it will continue to waste time and lower productivity.
Time killer #3: The endless talkers
We all know people who are in love with their own voices. They lose all sense of time once they start talking! In the process, they can easily waste hours of your time as well.
The best way to deal with such folks is to avoid them in the first place. That's much better than requesting them to shut up! Ask your secretary to divert their calls, or use caller ID to do the same thing.
But make no mistake -- they are serious time killers and you need to deal with them appropriately.
Time killer #4: Traffic jams
This one's a huge problem in most cities. Calculate the amount of time you spend each day in traffic jams, multiply that by the number of work days in a year and prepare to be astonished at the colossal waste of your productive time.
One solution is to leave an hour early. Of course, that still kills your time, although it does help you avoid being late.
Where possible, walk to work, or take the metro part of the way and walk the rest of the distance. You'll probably get there faster. Plus, you'll be in better health too.
Another approach is to use the time you're caught in the traffic to do something constructive. Like listen to a CD on self development or on a professional topic. That way, at least you get something useful out of the time that would otherwise be lost.
Time killer #5: Queues
These days, you can use the internet or the telephone to eliminate much of the need to stand in queue, whether it's for booking tickets, doing a routine banking transaction, etc. Where possible, utilize those options, because they save you considerable time.
Time killer #6: Meetings
Meetings are supposed to boost productivity. Unfortunately, in most cases, they tend to lower it. This happens largely because of bad planning.
Take the time to prepare a crystal clear agenda for the meeting, including what outcomes you're looking for. Then communicate that to all meeting participants in advance. Just this one step will go a long way to converting meetings into productive activities instead of time killers.
Deal constructively with these time killers as well as others that are unique to your situation. And you'll discover that you're adding hours to your day and getting more done in less time than ever before.
Burt Carlson is a top corporate executive whose passion is helping people get more out of life by managing their time better. He has written articles on time management dealing with getting organized at work, developing sustained self motivation and many other related topics.