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Eliminating Environmental Time Wasters

written by: Mary White•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 7/5/2011

Want to master the art of getting more done in a day? Take a look at the environment that you work in to identify – and remove – those factors that are keeping you from being productive and causing you to waste time.

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    Recognize and Eliminate Time Wasters

    Do you need to find more hours in the day? You can't make more hours in the day or put more days in the week. What you can control, however, are the environmental time wasters that impact your ability to get things done. Spend some time evaluating the environment you work in and ask yourself what factors are getting in the way of your ability to be productive. Taking steps to eliminate the environmental time wasters that keep you from being able to make the most of your time can make a huge difference in the amount of work you are able to complete on a day to day basis.

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    Put Limits on Email Notifications

    clock Are you getting notifications of new email messages every ten minutes? This constant flow of interruptions can keep you from being able to focus on other projects. Ask yourself if this is really necessary or if you can check your messages less frequently.

    Even though keeping up with your email frequently seems like a great way to stay on top of things, it's a fact that getting interrupted every few minutes can cause you to waste a lot of time. Every time you stop what you're doing to see if your latest incoming messages are things you need to take care of right away, you add time to the task at hand. It takes time and energy after every interruption, so it only makes sense to minimize the interruptions.

    Depending on the nature of your job, you may be able to set aside one or two times every day to check your messages. Even if you need to check more frequently, there's no reason to receive automatic notifications of incoming messages several times each hour. Set up your computer to notify you hourly, at the most. You can always check messages manually if you have free time in between automatic notifications.

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    Make the Most of Telephone Messages

    Do you play telephone tag with people all day long, missing messages only by minutes? Why not leave detailed messages for people about what you are requesting so that they can leave the information you need if you are unavailable when they return your call? Better yet, adjust your own voice mail message so that people who call you are instructed to leave details for you so that you can take care of most requests you receive with a single return phone call.

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    Utilize Travel Time Wisely

    Even when you work from home, there will be times that you are out and about for client meetings or personal errands. Why not utilize books on tape to stay current in your field when you are driving from one spot to another? This can be a terrific way to use your travel time wisely.

    Commuting time isn't the only potential time management challenge when you are out of your home office. There's a good chance that you'll find yourself with extra time on your hands when waiting for appointments. This can result in wasted time if you're not prepared. However, when you realize that delays can happen at any time and you prepare for such occurrences by carrying work or reading materials with you, this "found time" can be an excellent resource for making the most of your time.

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    Survey Your Environment

    Not everyone experiences the same time management challenges. To figure out how to manage your time effectively, spend some time reflecting about the factors that impact how productively you are able to work, such as how your work space is organized. Think about when you are able to work the most efficiently and what occurs when you find yourself getting off track. When you are able to identify the en environmental time wasters that keep you from being able to make the most of your time you can start taking steps to reduce their impact or eliminate them from your environment.

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    • Study Guides and Strategies: Time Management (
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