What are the biggest time-wasting activities in the workplace? According to many it's employees' use of social media, online games and web surfing that are the main problem areas and although there is a degree of truth in that the real time wasters are seldom named. According to a new survey (see Mashable: 5 Things That Waste Your Time at Work) we waste most time doing things that could be made easier by using the net more smartly. The top five culprits are:
- Trying to contact customers and colleagues
- Trying to find information
- Inefficient communication (duplicated)
- Trying to arrange meetings
- Sorting unwanted communication
These activities need not take so much time. Often we simply use the wrong tools such as arranging meetings by e-mail or phone rather than using simple web tools like Doodle. Or collaborative writing by e-mail instead of, say, Google Docs. If employees had better information retrieval skills they would waste less time looking for the information they need (here's a massive market for librarians to address). Smarter use of social networking can can be much more efficient than making repeated phone calls to customers and colleagues who are seldom available. Maybe we need to realize that synchronous communication such as phone calls is not the best way of communicating with some people and that asynchronous communication via discussion forums, instant messaging or social networks is generally more appropriate.
Instead of seeing the net as a time-waster we should be trying to use it more smartly to address the real drains on our time.