All employees and their employers like to believe they are efficient, focused workers who simply "get the job done." According to a variety of sources, that's just not the case. The average American worker wastes two hours and five minutes each day - not counting lunch - translating to a productivity loss of more than $759 billion a year. Although we can't all be machines, there are some things we can do to improve our time management.
Daily, employees poorly allocate their time and do not properly manage tasks and resources because they get sucked into things like Internet surfing - the most common culprit for time wasting. What are the other top time wasters? According to an American Online and Salary.com survey of more than 10,000 respondents, the top employee time wasters are:
- Surfing Facebook and YouTube for personal use
- Checking personal email
- Social networks
- Conducting personal business
- Spacing out
- Running errands
- Making personal phone calls
- Applying for jobs
- Planning personal events
- Arriving late or leaving early
The next question to ask is why do people waste time? Is it procrastination or boredom? The survey says:
- Overloaded with work
- Underpaid for the work they do
- Distracting co-workers
- Not enough evening or weekend time to get the little things done
Time Management and Project Scheduling (more project strategies here)
The impact of wasted time on project costs and time scheduling is up for debate. Routinely, wasting time increases project deadlines and creates delays for even the best project plans. Time tracking is affected as wasted time often gets billed twice when employees log idle time during traditional hours. As a result, employees spend longer days or weekends to get a project back on track.
Better time management and time tracking resources could help. Many employers long for intuitive, easy-to-implement time management software tools to help employees organize and track their time. That’s not to say, that some wasted time won't occur. Most employers build one hour of wasted time each day, plus lunch, into salaried employee compensations.
Time Management in the Workplace
Some employers limit personal Internet use as an effort to increase productivity by placing time limits on visiting sites that are not viewed as "core to their business." Employers are also using Internet blocking software that prohibits employees from even getting to the Internet. It’s that bad. In a report released last year, the American Management Association (AMA) reported that three-quarters of the companies they interviewed monitor employee Web site connections for inappropriate Internet surfing. "Sixty-five percent use software to block access to certain Web sites, a 27% increase (in companies using this technology) since 2001, according to the AMA."
Surfing the Internet - even wasting time - is not all bad. Many employers recognize that some down time can be good for business. Executives from Salary.com report that many companies view this type of time as "creative waste" that benefits a company’s culture, work environment and even improves the bottom line." The idea is that time spent surfing the net or talking with co-workers fuels ideas, improves processes and builds bonds between people. This can enhance a company’s worker-friendly reputation, especially when the delivery of a big project is rewarded with a little downtime, or workers are given "on-the-clock" time for family issues.
The bottom line in time management ultimately is that projects do have to be completed and employees do have to track and bill for their time. Most managers can quickly identify employees who are professional slackers and those who take a breather to re-charge or occasionally handle personal business. The proof is in the pudding and people - even those who take a little Internet break - are rewarded by efficiently using their time to drive their business forward.
Others are picking up on this issue. Have you seen the infographic below? I thought this was interesting and helpful. (click the link and scroll down for the real content.)
How can we help?
Our simple, intuitive time management tools and timesheets help employees make work time more productive. Our easy-to-use tools show only the projects and tasks assigned to each user can help employees focus. It reminds them of their tasks, deadlines and responsibilities and helps organize their work week. Nothing can stop an errant employee from surfing the Web all day, but clearly defined tasks with due dates and reminders, can help employees get things done. Download today, and try it yourself!
So enough reading...we've got to back to work!