Tips to Avoid Common Workplace Time Wasters

Tips to Avoid Common Workplace Time Wasters

Mike Tyson
Apr 6, 2011

As we finally put down the iPad, having played the last remaining turn on Words With Friends well into the wee hours of the morning, I began my work. Whether or not you love your job, there are surely distractions and time-wasters that plague your day, doing everything in their power to usurp your attention. Thankfully, there are countless ways to combat these devilish temptations from various apps to good ol' fashion human will power. We'll share all the secrets from the high to the low tech for keeping you on track and productive throughout your day.

If you're anything like us, you need some music to calm you down and really help you stay focused during your day. The problem, however, is finding what to play! After spending way too long browsing through our library for just the perfect tunes, we created some playlists geared towards specific types of work (such as writing, data entry, designing, etc...) and we've been able to adopt the "set it and forget it" mentality. We have a similar method for podcasts. We only stick to the ones that we know we like during the day and go searching for new podcasts off the clock.

As we said, our biggest indulgence is Words With Friends. It is very addicting, especially when your opponent is in a rapid-fire response phase. But pulling yourself away from any game is equally as difficult. Consequently, we created a new rule to only open Words With Friends during lunch. We also told our friends the deal and they've agreed to hold off during the workday.

The first important rule to know is you'll never, ever catch up. It can be a vicious cycle trying to read all the blogs you'd like to during the day. RSS readers certainly help organize the information presented to you but we still spend a lot of time weeding through the garbage. One iPad app we've found to be very helpful in this regard is Zite. You can input subjects that interest you and Zite culls the web for popular blogs/stories that is relevant to your interests and feeds them to you. You can fine-tune Zite's choices by saying whether or not you liked the article as well. At first we were really skeptical of the functionality but after returning to the app a few times, we've continued to find interesting material. We've been checking Zite every few hours, read a post or two, and move on. Ultimately, it would be best to save the stories on Instapaper throughout the day so you can do your catch-up at home or during your commute.

Social Networking
Similar to blogs, this can be an endless hole of updates that you'll never be able to fully complete. Summify has the potential to alleviate these issues by providing a similar service to Zite. In general, however, we think checking Twitter can be beneficial throughout the day to get current updates if anything important were to immediately arise between friends, however aimlessly browsing Facebook pictures or status updates seems like something best left to after-hours.

Lastly, there are various time-management applications for your computer that can help you organize your time or prevent you from wasting it. Desktop Task Timer is incredibly simple to use and helps you log your time and keep you on schedule both with your office tasks as well as your breaks. Another handy tool is SelfControl which you should get if you have none. You can add websites to a block list and once SelfControl is turned on, you will be unable to reach those websites for any specified duration. This will help keep you on track and ready to work.

(Images: Flickr member jimwhimpey, Flickr member Robert S Donovan, and Flickr member culturalelite licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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