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4 Things That Are Wasting Time at Work

Morning routine

Morning routine

Yes, it’s true that work can sometimes get boring and uninteresting. Afterall, everyone occasionally feels the same way too. When that happens, what do you do? For most people, they just resort to activities that are counterproductive at work. While this might not be an issue by itself if you’re having a slow day at the office, it can be a very big issue when you’re on the clock and have deadlines or assignments to submit.

In fact, studies carried out by in 2012 and 2013 showed that 64%-70% of the respondents wasted between a half-hour to several hours every day at work. If you find that you frequently can’t tell what you did during the day or can’t account for your time in the office, I have listed those time wasting activities you’re likely to engaged in while at work in the hope that once you an clearly identify them, you’ll hopefully be able to stop doing them and focus more on getting your work done.

Playing Computer or Video Games

This is common in offices. People pretend to work hard on their PC, but when you look at their screens, you’ll probably find them playing computer games. I personally experienced this when I walked into an administration building to make some inquiries. The woman I met with looked so busy. After attending to me, she went back to what she was doing on the PC. I figured she was too busy to be disturbed, so I let her be and even commended her diligence. Little did I know that she was playing Angry Birds on the PC for the 2 or so hours I was in that office. Go figure!

Too Many meetings

Yes, we know that meetings are essential. But having 3-7 meetings for 1-3 hours each a week? That can quickly become ludicrous. Many people consider meetings a waste of their time. In fact, I have never met anyone who was excited by the meetings they have in the office. If anything, many people come away from these meetings more confused or jaded than ever. It goes to show that this is not just an employee problem; it’s also a leadership problem. The solution to this is simple.

If you’re a manager, commit to having just one 30 minute to 1 hour meeting every week. If you need to touch base with department heads or supervisors outside of the meeting, do it within a span of about 15 minutes. Be clear, succinct and decisive about the items you need to discuss and let everyone get back to work. In fact, make your meeting a standing room only meeting. I guarantee that the meetings won’t take more than 30 minutes and you’ll have very clear objectives.

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Gisting with Colleagues

Water cooler gists are excellent for hearing recent office gossips, scandals and affairs. But it is also one of the biggest time-wasting activities in organizations. Unfortunately, seeing as we’re social creatures, it makes sense that we take some form of solace in “connecting” through talk. What can you do to stop this? It’s simple really: if you’re on break, time yourself and spend no more than 10-20 minutes gisting with your coworkers. Better still, cut back on the water cooler gists. It’s usually just random gossip anyway.

Conventional Faxing

Honestly, waiting by the faxing machine to receive a fax or sending one from the office is a massive time waster. In the time you’ll spend entering your password to use the machine and either receiving or sending the rolls of documents, you’d have finished and moved on to other things with an online fax system. Add up the possibly dozens (or hundreds in larger companies) of faxes sent and received per day and that can mean hundreds of man-hours lost every month.

Other time wasting activities people routinely engage in include social network updates, IM chats,  personal phone calls and texting, email and aimless web surfing. If you’re guilty of this, try to cut back on them and focus more on work. Afterall, that’s what puts food on your table. It’s only the honorable thing to do.


Oscar King’s full time job when he’s not writing articles is as a human resources manager. For maximizing workplace efficiency and getting the most out of employees, he highly recommends an online fax service, and you can find great comparisons of various online fax service providers at More examples of his work can be found at Google+.

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