There are several things that prevent us from getting our work done. Excuses like “I didn’t have enough time” should be forbidden, because we always have time. It’s just a matter of prioritising and organising it.
We can also blame distractions like other people, Facebook or a work environment that is not comfortable enough, but actually the only thing that we should be doing is looking in the mirror. We are the only ones who are in charge of our time and that is why I put together some of tips to help us get rid of time vampires.
Let’s start out with the person who always asks, “Have you got a minute?” Well, this usually means that there is a person who just comes in with questions that are actually never quick. This always takes more than a minute and it also means that you need to switch yourself off from your work. Getting back on track is usually very difficult and often takes longer than one minute as well. Tell this person to collect the questions together and organise a specific time to deal with them. Another way (if it is possible) is just to avoid these kinds of people and not communicate with them at all.
When we need to send an informative email, we often get back two or three questions, or even few emails from the same person. When sending a message to someone, be concise, but provide enough information so the person receiving the message can take appropriate action. If you have a question, ask. If you have information, give! This will avoid other questions and issues in the future, which will also avoid losing more and more of your valuable time.
Make peace with perfectionism. Perfectionism takes more time than you can imagine and it is definitely not needed. It takes away your motivation and it also makes you delay, because you always feel like there’s just that one more thing that needs to be done before it’s perfect. Rebecca Wells once said: “Good enough is good enough. Perfect will make you a big fat mess every time.”
Communicate with people who are productive and people who inspire you to work and to be more active. Unproductive people are always on the phone, chatting, taking long lunches or sitting on Facebook. It also affects you and this way your work will never be done.
Set office hours – if you have a client who is calling you at home, give them certain hours when you’re available. Don’t allow that person to interrupt your family life. There is a time for work and a time for play.
Don’t Twitter/Facebook your time away — avoid TweetDeck, Facebook Messenger and any other applications that flash and beep and keep Twitter or/and Facebook in front of your face all day long. Log in to Twitter, check your “@ replies” and answer them. Play for a bit and then log back out.
Differentiate between urgent and not urgent. There are issues that need to be solved right away and there are problems that can be solved in 30 minutes, in an hour or in a day. All problems are not urgent.
The biggest time vampire is putting things off. There are no excuses for not doing something right now. “I’m waiting for the right mood to come. It takes too much time, I’ll do it later. It is too difficult, I’ll come back to it.” No — this is not the way you get your things done!
Meetings that are not actually needed. Try to avoid meetings that are not getting you anywhere. In short, if you have nothing important to talk about, then just don’t. There are several things that you can solve/discuss on the phone. This will take a lot less time than organising a meeting.
There is also a danger with related videos on YouTube. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who gets a very cool YouTube video from a colleague, then after finishing the video gets tempted to click on a related video. And then another related video. And there goes my time.
I think that the key for productivity is simplicity – it boils down to two steps: identify the essential and eliminate the rest.
If most websites are saying that time vampires and energy suckers are separate people, then I would say that it is the exact same thing in the end. Hopefully I managed to collect together all the vampires that we know of. If you know any other ones or you might even know how to get rid of them, feel free to let us know because we all need to deal with those in our daily life.
Photos: VisitEstonia/Wikimedia Commons