When you’re running a business, time is your most precious commodity. And yet, so many executives waste time during the course of their day. Often they don’t even realize the time that is frittering away as they perform functions or indulge habits that are ingrained in their daily schedule.

Here are five common areas in which business leaders lose time during the course of their workday.

Inefficient communication. We’ve all suffered through an endless day of meetings. You’ve likely had a line out your office door with staffers who “need a word” – and then take up 20 minutes of your time. The key is to realize it and put an end to circular conversations. Often, people don’t express what they want or need clearly, which creates confusion, and becomes an even bigger time suck.

Meetings also tend to be inefficient. How many times have you gone to a weekly meeting, discussed the same things you discussed last week… and then scheduled next week’s follow-up? When it comes to meetings, require that they end with specific action items – and then begin the next meeting assessing what has happened. If nothing has happened, cancel the meeting.

Bonus tip: Don’t automatically schedule every meeting for one hour, simply because that’s the default setting in Outlook. If the meeting requires 20 minutes of your time, make it a 20-minute meeting.

Constantly checking email. For some jobs, checking email frequently is a necessity. But for many professionals, those emails can sit for a couple hours. While it’s great to be responsive, having your email always on has been shown to reduce productivity. Here’s an experiment – set aside two 30-minute blocks of time during your workday for checking and answering emails, and only open your email application during those time blocks. Try it for a week – and see if you find yourself getting more done.

Multitasking. The reason any of us multitask is because we have so much on our plate and we need to keep it all moving forward. There’s one problem: It doesn’t work. Research shows that moving back and forth between different tasks actually wastes time because your attention is expended on the act of switching gears. Additionally, you never really get into the groove of doing one thing well.

Being disorganized. It’s true; many brilliant, successful people have had messy desks. When asked about the piles of paper on his desk, Einstein said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?” However, many people have taken this as an excuse to never get organized. But when you stop and consider how much time you spend looking for the file you misplaced, you realize that keeping organized can keep you on task.

You micromanage employees. At some point, you have to let go and trust the people you hired to do their job. Yes, they need guidance, and if you’re too hands off, the quality of work will suffer. But there comes a point at which you have to trust them to do their job so you can focus on running the business.

There are many more ways busy executives waste time during their day. If you find yourself not getting as much done as you want, it might be time to step back and assess how you’re spending your time, and how you can get more out of each day.

Contact us at 215.441.4600 or Email if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.

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