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What are your biggest time wasters (and how do you get rid of them)?

My biggest time waster of the day is constantly checking my email and feeling like I have to get back to my clients right away. It can be distracting from more important tasks at hand when I keep pausing to deal with matters like contact emails. I think getting back to client's messages is extremely important but should it be taking up all my time? What are other business owner's time wasters and how are they being more productive around them?

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Good question... Getting back from breaks. I know I need breaks, and I make myself have breaks in order to stay productive, but coming back to work can be a struggle.

As for email conquering, there are a few steps I found to be extremely helpful:
1. The majority of your email traffic should SKIP your Inbox
2. Create a small number of designated folders. Five is a good number. This is where most of the traffic goes, to be checked a couple times a week.
3. Check email no more than 2-3 TIMES A DAY.
There is a wonderful signature line, penned, I believe, by Tim Ferriss - something to the effect of "In order to serve you better, I will only be checking emails twice a day, at 8 am and 2 pm. If it's urgent, please cal 111-111-1111".


David, you took the words out of my mouth. By far the biggest time waster is constantly checking email all day and the solution to this would be to only check email 2 or 3 times a day all at the same time. I would also like to point out a good use of time, is using your first 30-60 min of every day to knock out something creative or a project (or part of it). This way, at the end of every day, you have accomplished something more than just all the day to day stuff. But again, you nailed it on the #1 time waster in my opinion.


Hi David

We help people improve the productivity and performance of their workforce , so this question is dear to my heart! Especially the email aspect!

My biggest answer to this is planning and discipline. Make sure that you know what is most important and plan to tackle those things. Having the discipline to stick with those things is a different matter...

Do you reward yourself when you get the important stuff done and is that reward greater than the reward you get for checking email? As people we like instant gratification... when the email chime pings at us, and we can go immediately and see what is there, it reinforces our behaviour.. Turn your alerts off. When you complete something on your important list, then you can go fiddle with email for a while. Sometimes, if I know that I am feeling particularly flighty or distracted, I'll even set an alarm to make sure I don't get lost in just replying to email and I only tackle urgent stuff.

Ultimately, what gets rewarded gets repeated, so you need to make finishing the bigger stuff more rewarding than checking email. If you work with someone else, they can help (e.g. don't laugh, but I'll often tell my husband that when I am done a big piece of work he can give me a doughnut :) ... it seems silly, but it works!).

There are other ways to improve productivity. You might want to check out a couple of posts - one is here in the resource section, called Upping Your Productivity.
The other you can find on linked in - the fundamentals of productivity https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/fundamentals-productivity-jess-chapman/

Hope that helps!


Checking emails 2-3 times a day sounds OK in theory, however if the bulk of your job and daily tasks is email centric (and attached suite of tools like calendar, tasks etc), then it's not something you can close off in a hurry - and not for too long. You could automatically move new mails to a check later folder to minimise such distractions, however the other activities will still be email centric (just without the immediate new ones). What I am getting at is some jobs are vastly email removed / not dependent than others. The ultimate answer is just have a PA or Exec. assistant be in charge of your inbox and then they just alert you to most pressing emails 2-3 times a day! Then you are free to divulge into a whole sphere of new mind boggling distractions.


Life. Seriously? My biggest problem is the need to be current on everything I touch professionally. As a business and tech consultant -- who occasionally gets calls from people outside the U.S. -- that's a lot to keep current.


Qualfy & Quantify the questions by customet, employee, company,performance and do,let e-mail tie you up..


Driving and traffic are the most annoying things.


1)Some famous person said. Email is other people problems. Unless you are a tech support and this is your job don't check email in the morning ist.
I check email twice a day. 12:-1 and 4:30 - 5;30
Put an autoresponder and set expectations.

2) Whenever you start your day. Spend 50 mins working and 10 mins break. Drink water, Walk, Stretch and do 20 pushups :-)

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