Where Is Your Time Going? The 4 Biggest IT Time Wasters to Avoid

September 18th, 2014

Poor IT habits that lead to time wasting can be a huge drain on productivity. Aggregated losses due to poor IT habits can cost businesses thousands of dollars per employee each year. These are the top IT-related time wasters to watch out for, along with some insights on how staff and organisations can address these common time wasters.


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Email is one of the biggest distractions for employees. While email is a vital tool in the workplace, it’s often too easy for staff to lose their time replying to an endless stream of emails, or reading emails which don’t directly relate to them. A study by OfficeTime.net found 33 per cent of employees spend one to two hours a day on email, while 22 per cent spent more than two hours every day on their email.

Social Media Sites

It has been estimated that in the US more than 12 billion hours are spent on social networks every day. Facebook is the number one time wasting website, followed by LinkedIn. Uni students spend around 3 hours each day on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, compared to the 2 hours they spend on study daily.

One in six workers visit social media sites during work hours. Employees are interrupted every 10.5 minutes on average by social media messages and instant messaging services. Once they’ve been interrupted it takes each employee an average of 23 minutes to recover from the interruption, which contributes additional wasted time to the total.

OfficeTime.net found that 75 per cent of workers spent up to two hours every day on social network sites. While many businesses have experienced benefits from the collaborative advantages of social media; in all, this particular IT time waster is costing the US economy $650 trillion each year.

Surfing the Internet

A Salary.com survey found that around 48 per cent of employees wasted time by using the internet at work. Other than social media, news and online shopping sites are some of the most popular sites visited by workers.One study found that 25 per cent of employees visit the online megalith Amazon during work hours.

IT Infrastructure

While internet and email distractions are likely the most pervasive time wasters in any workplace, organisations tend to overlook the fact that their IT infrastructure also has a role to play in distracting employees. Software and equipment issues can lead to lost time at work. Software bugs, incorrectly installed apps, slow or intermittent Wi-Fi and incompatible equipment can be a source of distraction and delay for work flow.

Eliminating Time Wasters at Work

Whether you’re looking for ways to be more productive at work or to discourage your staff from wasting time, there are proven techniques and tools that can help with catching time-wasting activities and eliminating them from your day.

  1. Apps and software – Use apps and software to block social media sites, and use time-tracking software to manage your time. Explore the array of task-management apps and software programs out there that can improve productivity and focus. Instead of collaborating via social media programs, try specialist apps or sites that facilitate work-only group discussions and instant messaging.
  2. Keep personal records – Track your time spent on each task to keep aware of when you do waste time. This can make you more aware of where your time is going.
  3. Monotask – Evidence suggests that multitasking can lead to wasted time, so encourage staff to monotask at work. If you are being distracted by multitasking, allocate blocks of time that are devoted to a single task and avoid doing anything else during that block of time. Try to stick to only one tab in your internet browser.
  4. Switch off alerts – Switch off all non-essential alerts (including social media alerts), so as to avoid being distracted during work time.
  5. Email tools – Use email management apps to filter out non-essential emails. Set three or four times during the day to check email and avoid checking email outside these pre-allocated times.
  6. Review workstations and IT system – Ensure that all workstations are up to date in software updates, to reduce the likelihood of slow-running or lagging programs. Upgrade hardware and software as required, and schedule regular checks for malware, which can slow down computers.
  7. Develop an organisation-wide policy – Develop clear policies on the use of social media and other time wasters.
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