7 Common Time-Wasters – and Ways to Weed Them Out

By 3. August 2021November 6th, 2022Meetings, Work habits

Ok, people, listen up. There is no way to sugar-coat this: Half of the year has gone, and we are already heading towards Christmas again.

And now breathe. Because as alarming as that realisation may be, we are here to help. We know that while now is more important than ever to eliminate all those little inefficiencies, it may also be more difficult than ever to get the momentum going. Distractions abound. Willpower wanes.

Well, we are calling time on all those inefficiency enablers. This month, we have collated what our clients consider to be the seven worst workplace timewasters. And in true PEP-style, we have also provided some practical pointers for their prevention. Read on, then, for our round-up:

1. Email

No surprises here. Keeping control of your inbox is a battle that’s both endless and exhausting. Our work performance is not assessed on how many emails we answer each day. Yet we spend so much of our time mired in email. But think about it. How much of all this email admin is actually moving your business forward?

PEP tip: Unneccessary ‘cc’ emails can inundate your inbox. Take a second to think about what you are sending and who you are sending it to. Do you need to ‘reply to all’ or ‘cc’ that person? If someone keeps ‘cc’-ing you unnecessarily, tell them! Explain that you do not need to be copied in.

2. Meetings

Overwhelmed with meaningless meetings? You and everyone else, it seems – it is a pretty common complaint. Not every meeting is essential. And the ones that are essential still need to be run properly and kept to time, with key outcomes identified.

PEP tip: Ensure an agenda is issued prior to every meeting and stick to it. Agree on what actions have been delegated to each person and establish accountability for follow-up. And keep to your scheduled meeting timeframe. And if your meeting’s going nowhere fast? Leave.

3. Interruptions

Urgent requests, chatting colleagues or a noisy workplace are all time-draining distractions. Once distracted, it can take us up to twenty minutes to regain our focus. Is that time well spent? We think not.

PEP tip: Start by assessing your own behaviour. Be considerate of those around you. Think about what sort of impact it has on someone every time you interrupt them. And if you are the long-suffering interruptee? – Communicate your concerns. Encourage whoever keeps interrupting to batch their queries and meet with you at a scheduled time instead.

4. A Disorganised Workspace

Stand by for the scary statistic: we can waste the equivalent of six weeks a year simply looking for information. And we are not just talking about sifting through piles of paper on your desk – clutter creeps into your computer and smartphone, too.

PEP tip: Be disciplined about decluttering. It is simple. Only keep what you need. And I know you have heard this before, but ensure you have a place for everything, and everything is in its place. That may or may not include a special place for chocolate.

5. Smartphone

Despite its many advantages, this clever device is actually a classic time-wasting culprit. The smartphone has a great potential to derail a day’s good intentions. Ask yourself this. Is your phone adding any value to your work while you are sitting at your desk?

PEP tip: Nix the notifications. Do you really need them all? And silence the alerts from the notifications you do retain. Consider if it would be the end the world if you could only use your phone for phone calls?

6. Internet

Time to ’fess up. Sixty-four percent of people admit to using the internet for personal reasons during work. Are you one of them? Be aware of how much time you spend surfing the net. Is it enabling you to procrastinate?

PEP tip: Discipline. Again. Stand firm against distractions. If it is too easy for you to fall down that rabbit hole, stay away from the edge.

7. Coffee Breaks

Clients always protest that they like to get up and have a wander. And yes, regular breaks are certainly essential to maintain focus. Random breaks, however, start to look a lot like procrastination.

PEP tip: Book in those breaks. Allow yourself five minutes every hour for a quick breath of fresh air or a snack. You are more likely to stay on task if you know exactly when you can have a breather.


We assume that some, if not all, of these issues elicited a flicker of recognition. And recognition is the key: better behaviour always begins with self-awareness (and a decent dose of discipline not to forget.) So, acknowledge those potential pitfalls and prep yourself accordingly. And you might find out, that you have more time available, than you thought.