Host: How can I break the habit of wasting time at work?
Sean McArdle: How can I break the habit of wasting time at work? How about break the habit of wasting time totally? The first one is to become aware of what wastes your time. So, I always like to get people to make a list and I just get them to put a line straight down the middle of a paper. At work I waste my time doing the following- chatting with people at the water cooler for too long, staying too long at lunch, taking more breaks than I really should, playing cards on my computer instead of doing what I was tasked with doing.
Then, on the other side we put the places where we waste time in our lives. I watch television, now, I have no problem with watching television but I think as a time management tool, it is really important to understand that most of us will turn on a television program because we want to watch it and then find ourselves still watching two hours later long after that show is gone, only because we got so relaxed in front of the television set.
So, somebody who is really, really interested in managing their time more effectively should start by unplugging the television or making sure that they do not go to the computer and waste time looking on search engines for things that happen to fascinate them by the moment or at least, limiting the time that they do that, so, that they can do it on purpose. Also, you want to look for things that happen to you that wastes your time. For instance, I do a lot of work in the Federal Government and there, there seems to be the habit of people sending copies of their e-mails to virtually, everyone to create the influence that says, I am a busy person. I am doing many important things and you should know about it and it wastes people s time going through these e-mails that are virtually unimportant to them.
So, in those cases I ask them to actually to go to the person and say, You know what, do not need to know what you are doing on that project, I have three others and I am getting too many e-mails to go through them all day, but I wish you very good luck on your project. So, look at the things that you waste time on and then look at the things that waste your time over which it seems like you have little control and go out and try and exert a little. That way, you become aware of it. Now, once you are aware of the things that waste your time, then you have to do two things. First is, you have to be committed for a specific amount of time, say a week. For a week, I will not play a game on my computer at work. For a week, I will not get on the computer and stay there for more than a half hour each night to check my e-mails. For a week, I will not watch television except these two shows which are one hour long only. The rest of the time I will turn off my television set. So, first you become aware of what wastes your time, second you limit the amount of time you waste on it on purpose and by schedule and then third and this is the one I like the best, you have to decide what are the important things in my life, that are not necessarily urgent, but they are important? They are things I have to do eventually, set goals in my life, maybe I have to do some research on how to send a child to college, maybe I have to do some research on where to take my family for vacation. What are the things that I keep putting off that are important but not urgent today? Once you can get to those topics and decide what is important, then you have some things that you can do with the time that you are no longer wasting. My suggestion always is to go to your calendar once again and when you tick out the things that you wasted your time on, place one important thing in there that you can replace the wasted time with that will actually do something more valuable for you as a human being and then do it on purpose.