At the start of every week, 2 types of crowd get in touch with each other in the office. On one hand, you have those who think that Monday is the worst day of the week and those who are excited by the week ahead.

The people that are part of the latter group have certainly spent part of the Sunday drawing up a to-do list for the week ahead. The first group may have done the same but is clearly not enthusiastic about the workweek.

Enthusiasm alone is not enough to ensure that you complete an effective workweek. If you want to complete your to-do list, you should drop the habits that get in the way of your productivity. I called those habits “time wasters”. In this article, I will list you my biggest time wasters and how I want to control or get rid of them.

1. Turning on cellphone notifications

Gary Vaynerchuk said in one of his podcasts that the applications appearing on the first screen of your smartphone say a lot about your main interests in life. Basically, most of us have Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram and text messages on our smartphone. A lot of people tend to have notifications turned on for all or part of their applications. Whenever a notification pops up during the workday, we stop doing our task, verify what is in it, react about it or keep it in our mind and eventually we waste mental time and energy because we need to get back into focus to complete the to-do list we did draw up the day before. Turning off all cell phone notifications (including text messages) can prove to be an efficient time saver. You could check out all your notifications and text messages during lunch or at very precise timeslots of the day.

2. Having small talk with chatty colleagues

Disclaimer: I am NOT saying that you should ignore your colleagues. Given that most of us work in teams, it is important to care about the mood, health and overall situation of your colleagues. However, there is a threshold that should not be overtaken when chatting with the people you work with. While you always have some colleagues or clients that are enjoyable, chatting too much during the workday gets in the way of your productivity. To counter that, use the lunchtime or specific « coffee breaks » (even though I don’t drink coffee) with them to have those enjoyable conversations. Some organizations today have chat rooms suck as Slack in which both work-related tips and small talk can take place. The advantages of chat rooms are that you can participate to it at your convenience.

3. Answer unsolicited incoming calls

I answer incoming calls from specific people: my family, a few friends, public institutions (government offices, etc) and any organization that I know I have something to address with. For all the other people, if I am in a meeting or in the “zone” doing a task, I tend to listen to their voicemail after the call. A lot of time is wasted answering unsolicited surveys, “5 minutes” calls and doing small talk on the phone. Again, taking specific moments during the day to make the phone calls may boost your productivity.

4. Attending meeting without agenda

One big time waster is attending meetings without a precise agenda or in which the agenda has not been respected. This time waster deserves its own article. You could be in a room full of very smart people and be figuring out why you are into this room because of the way the meeting is handled. Provide an agenda and objectives for every meeting that you organize. Request an agenda and objectives for meetings in which you are invited. Having an agenda enable the attendees to do the following before going into the meeting:

  • Am I the right person to attend the meeting?
  • Shall I suggest another attendee who could help the meeting organizer realize its objective
  • Shall I bring specific intellectual or physical material with me to the meeting?

In conclusion, if you make a habit of checking your cellphone at specific moments of the day, reserve small talk with colleagues at coffee breaks or lunch, listen to your voicemail for unimportant unsolicited incoming calls and get an agenda for all your meetings, you will be better equipped to have an effective workweek.

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