The Things That Waste Your Time at Work _ IMG1

The Things That Waste Your Time at Work

Do you ever get to the end of the day or week and think, “I got nothing done today!”


What do you do when that happens—do you beat up on yourself?


Talk crap to yourself and call yourself names?


We all respond to stress differently but I have noticed that when something like this happens, we typically have one of two responses.


We fight or we run.


We dig in and fix it or we limp away and try to make ourselves feel better.


And then circle back to correct the problem.


I think one of the keys to understanding which one we’re likely to choose is how personally we take the disappointment.


And how thoroughly I attached my sense of self-esteem to the success of the task.


Which is different than my commitment to the task and its outcome.


When I bind my identity to the task, I take disappointment personally.


I assume someone is responsible and by default, I’ll blame myself.


I’ll look for any instance where I could have done more and point to that as the reason for the undesired outcome.


When I am committed to a successful result but am not making the task a defining moment for me, it becomes much easier to pivot and shift right into problem-solving mode.


And that’s where the magic begins.




A shitty day or even a week is not the end of the story.


It’s the beginning.


But if you’re taking it personally, that’s usually where you’ll stop.


You don’t drill down into the failure because you’re caught up in trying to feel better about how things turned out.


Hopefully after you have soothed yourself, you’ll eventually pivot into problem-solving mode but many people just try to distance themselves from the upset and never look at the failure again.


Don’t let that be you.


Sit with the disappointment and figure out what exactly did you do today or NOT do today that caused nothing meaningful to get done.


When I teach, I often use the example of the laundry as a way to illustrate a complete task.


We all know about sorting clothes and then washing them and drying them.


Most of us even fold them up.


And then some of us stop there.


We don’t put the laundry away, we just leave it clean and folded in the laundry basket.


That’s not the end of the task.


The end of the task is when all the laundry is put away and the basket is empty and ready for more clean stuff.


You’re doing the same thing at work if you don’t examine how you got to the end of a day and have nothing significant to show for all your time and effort.


That’s the end of a crappy day or week—figuring out what happened or what didn’t happen so you don’t have the same kind of day or week next week.


To get you started, here’s a list of some of the ways you may be losing time and efficiency at work.


Use these to start your problem-solving the next time you end the day less productive than you wanted to.


Or even better, be proactive and see how many of them you can kill now before they derail another day at work.


If you don’t see your reason(s) here, send us an email at hello [at} so we can update this article.





Not filing when you’re finished with a document, digital or paper.


Not prioritizing before the day begins.


Not reviewing your progress at key times during the day.


Not planning tomorrow before you leave the office today.


Scribbling notes on the backs of envelopes or post-its and never transcribing them.


Attending meetings without written agendas provided at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.


Attending meetings that don’t directly involve you or your team.


Searching through stacks of papers looking for the document “you know exactly where it is.”


Putting out other people’s fires because you can’t say no.


Multitasking while on a phone or video call and not remembering the content of the call OR what you were multitasking.


Moving piles of papers from one surface to another.


Moving digital files around on your computer but never properly naming them and filing them OR deleting them.


Worrying about things you have no control over.


Worrying about things you have some control over but don’t know where to start.


Spending too long on email:

  1. Crafting the perfect email
  2. Crafting the perfect email reply
  3. Reading the same emails over and over but never taking another action
  4. Searching for an email you didn’t file
  5. Searching for an email you didn’t reply to


Not putting the snail mail in its home any time you bring it into your office.


Inefficient or incomplete delegation so you end up still managing the task while also having no clear ability to complete the task, just the responsibility for the outcome.


Making appointments with yourself on your calendar but not keeping the appointments.


Not having an SOP for all of your recurring tasks.


Sitting in your feelings of overwhelm and feeling sorry for yourself.


Not knowing what to keep and what to shred.




Allowing yourself to be distracted by other people in the office.


Being surprised that management changed direction.


Waiting for permission to do something.


Avoiding organizing any piles or files you inherited from a previous worker that still contain active information.


Commuting between two offices and zoning out.


Sharing an office or workspace with a colleague without rules and agreements on how you will share the space and keep it tidy and functional.




Now that you have some tools, see how quickly you can figure out why the day was less than successful and commit to approaching tomorrow differently.


No point in having the same kind of day over and over.


The bigger takeaway may be resetting your mindset AND practicing NOT wrapping your identity up in your work, even if you are the CEO, as I am.


Be passionate about your work, just don’t make your work responsible for defining you or your value on Earth.


We can’t ever really know who and what we impact and when or how we impact events and people.


So better to surrender needing tasks to create meaning for us and find that meaning someplace else, someplace inside where it’s not subject to such easy influence.


The great mystery is not knowing what your life means and still living it full force regardless.


Play big because you can, not because anyone is watching. Click To Tweet


That may also be your greatest success.


Are you tired of the story of “too much to do and not enough time?” Would you love to get an extra hour or more back into your week without any gimmicks AND for free? Check out this cheatsheet I put together for you—it’s my gift and a great way to jump start your decluttering.

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