Workplace Rights

Weekly (6/4/12)

Topic of the Week  Time Thief

Time Thief, Executive Summary:

  • Audit how you spend your time.
  • Don't always give 100%.
  • Negotiate.
  • Create a not-to-do list.

Time Thief: Getting More Done at Work

Feeling overwhelmed at work? You're not alone, a study by the Families and Work Institute found that 54% of American workers felt overwhelmed at least once in the past month over the amount of work that they had to do. While another 29% felt that they spent a lot of time doing work that was a waste of their time. Which reminds me of an email that someone sent me. Where he told me about a time when he'd gone on vacation and forgotten to do a report that he was responsible to do every week. Did he get in trouble? No. In fact, no one noticed he hadn't done it.

Think about it, a third of us feel that we waste a lot of our time at work. You just can't make this stuff up. Believe it or not there are things that you can do if you feel that you're wasting a lot of your time at work. All involve some risk, it's usually easier to just keep your nose to the grindstone. But you still should check out the strategies below.

Audit how you spend your time. I'd suggest that on a quarterly basis you keep a pad on your desk and jot down how you spend your time in fifteen-minute increments. Like with the family budget, when you actually look at where you're investing effort, you're usually surprised. Remember, before you can make your time more productive, you've got to know what you're doing, or not doing, with it.

Don't always give 100%. Okay, pick your jaw up off the table and keep reading. Sure there are lots of tasks that require your full attention and best efforts. But there are also many tasks that require the absolute minimum, or better yet, not doing them at all. Free up time to do the stuff that is most important by not wasting time on the stuff that doesn't matter.

Negotiate. When your boss drops a big new project in your lap, ask him or her what you should stop doing to free up time for it. Sure there is a risk attached to this, but I think there is a bigger risk to let your boss continue to drop things in your lap. Don't whine, just tell the boss that you want to invest your time effectively with whatever assignments are most important to them.

Create a not-to-do list. Suggest to your boss that your entire team should come together on a quarterly basis to identify the things that you should all stop doing. Companies are very good at putting stuff on your plate, but tend to be terrible at taking tasks off of it. A not-to-do conversation will make everyone more productive.

89% of those surveyed said they don't have enough time to do everything that they need to do at work. Since no one has figured out create a 27-hour day yet, we should all do what we can to make every minute that we do have count.

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via


Thought of the Week

"I don't like going where I've already been. Life is a myriad of territories to discover. I don't want to waste time with what I already know."

–Jeanne Moreau

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from Fonality

    I Ain't Wasting Time No More: Top Daily Time Wasters

    • Contacting customers or coworkers, 74 minutes a day
    • Trying to find information, 67 minutes
    • Duplicating communications, 39 minutes
    • Scheduling meetings, 33 minutes
    • Unwanted communications, 29 minutes


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