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Top Workplace Time Wasters

Course screenshot from Time Management - someone procrastinating

In 2013, researchers at the University of California found that, on average, we’re distracted from our work once every 11 minutes. Given that it takes an estimated 25 minutes to refocus our attention back on our original task, it’s no wonder that many of us often feel frustrated at how little we actually achieve throughout our workday. Eliminating these distractions can have profound effects, not only on our productivity, but also on our mental wellbeing too. 

Smartphones and Digital Devices 

Almost everyone has a smartphone, and whilst they’re an excellent way to stay connected with other people and make sure we’re up-to-date on the latest news, they’re also one of the biggest time wasters. 

And we have our brain chemistry to thank for this. When we receive a notification, our brains release a hit of a pleasurable hormone called dopamine. Once this wears off, which doesn’t take long, we crave the same feeling. So, off we go, back to our phones in search of another fix. It’s basically an addiction with the average person picking up their phone for a hit every 15 minutes! 

To help avoid this distraction you can try turning your phone onto aeroplane mode while you work, turning off your notifications, or, if you want an extreme solution, try deleting all of your distracting apps altogether. See how much more productive you can be without them. 


With the rise in larger, more open-plan office spaces, it was inevitable that noise levels would rise also. Conversational colleagues, loud laughter, and clinking coffee cups and cutlery can all make it much more difficult to concentrate on our work, draining productivity. 

The simplest solution is to block it all out by wearing headphones. Listen to soothing, relaxing, or motivational music to help focus your attention. And if this fails, you can always take yourself out of the situation. Try and find an unused meeting room, work outside, from home, or from a local coffee shop with free wi-fi. 


We’re relatively simple creatures, it doesn’t take much for our minds to become distracted by something shiny. So, when our desks or workspaces are crowded with lots of things more interesting than the work we’re trying to avoid, we’re clearly going to avoid it by looking at all the really interesting things crowded around us.  

Cups, books, papers, used food and drink containers, doodads, gizmos, and gumpf. When our brain wants a reason not to work, these are all infinitely more interesting. Make time to clear them away – try setting aside a few minutes at the end of the day to clear up or set a reminder on your phone to make sure you have an efficient workspace. 

Unnecessary Meetings 

Boring and unnecessary meetings. We’ve all had them, maybe we’ve even organised them. They’re one of our biggest time wasters and unfortunately, for many of us, it’s very difficult to get out of them. 

Given that it’s something that plagues us all, regardless of our position within our organisation, it should be easier to deal with. Try talking with the person who set the meeting. Ask them whether it’s really necessary for you to attend. Why not go further, suggest that everyone does a thorough audit of their calendars, are all those meetings really needed? It could be to the benefit of everyone to scrap a few recurring meetings. 

Eat Well 

What happens when you eat a big old slice of cake at work? If you answered “feel fantastic”, you’re right. It feels great. But then it doesn’t. With every high, there’s always a comedown. After that big sugar rush, there’s an inevitable crash. No matter what you eat, your energy levels will naturally rise and fall throughout the day but eating more of the right stuff can help keep those levels more evenly balanced. 

There’s a multitude of dietary advice available all over the internet and far be it from me to tell you what works for you specifically. However, as a general rule, try to avoid sugary foods that might cause a huge spike (and then drop) in your energy levels. It’s also a good idea to keep a bottle of water handy so you can stay hydrated throughout the day. 

Time Management Training

Our CPD Accredited Time Management Training course can be completed in just 25 minutes. It covers both how to plan your time effectively and educates users on identifying time bandits too. You will learn how to deal with both external time bandits (things that originate outside of you) and internal time bandits (things you do to waste your own time). Why not get started with a free trial today?

Time Management Training