How To Convert Wasted Time Into Saved Time

Lynn Homisak PRT

Have you ever thought about how some things you do waste instead of save your precious time? Sometimes, these disruptors are so commonplace that they happen without us even realizing it and yet they manage to mismanage our time and reek of inefficiency. I read that the average employee works for just 11 minutes before being distracted. Eleven minutes? It is no wonder we struggle to get things done.

The following are just a couple of time-squandering culprits. How many do you recognize?

Disorganization. Do you start each morning cleaning up yesterday’s mess? Make it a point to clean off your work area before the end of the day and organize miscellaneous papers into labeled or color-coded folders. Putting things in their place makes finding them a lot easier when you need them and prevents unnecessary, time-consuming paper shuffling. Also, create checklists for things that you need to accomplish on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. They keep you on track, serve as a great reminder to follow through with tasks and simultaneously measure productivity.

Think progress rather than “perfectionism.” If your goal is to wear the next Superwoman or Superman cape, you are almost assured of wasting time and energy that could be used more productively elsewhere. Leave the fictional character at the doorstep. Stop thinking you can walk on water and strive more for excellence instead of perfection.

Multitasking. I used to be a fan of multitasking until I realized that trying to do multiple jobs at once only leads to a lack of concentration, missed details, poor quality of work and more wasted time fixing mistakes that were not done right the first time. Believe it or not, doing one thing at a time ultimately leads to more accurate outcomes (and less frustration).

E-mails and social media. All it takes for some is that “bing” sound (you know the one I mean); that familiar interruptive message advisory that pulls us away from what you are doing as if it were a mandatory directive telling you to “DROP EVERYTHING AND ANSWER ME!” Here’s the reality. E-mail and social media alerts are not commands. They are notifications and none that you need to (or should) address during work hours. First, set and enforce policy that says employees should save those “important” messages for lunchtime or after work; then set an example for optimum staff compliance.

Failure to delegate. In case you haven’t already experienced it, failure to delegate tasks means you’re doing more than you should and that leads to stress and ultimately burnout. How can staff learn to relieve you of some of your non-doctor work if you aren’t willing to let these tasks go? Do you think you are the only one who can do them right? Think again. Unmet expectations are likely the result of improper training. Telling is not teaching. Try teaching staff to do one new small job. If you are satisfied with the outcome, try another. Soon confidence will build for both of you and “delegation” will not seem as bad a word as you thought. As I travel often, my favorite analogy is “Would the pilot of this aircraft serve coffee or load the luggage?”

“Unlimited” social time? Of course, I recognize the social aspect of our jobs (spending time talking with patients, colleagues, co-workers, etc.) is a tangible component of job satisfaction and culture so you certainly don’t want to eliminate it from your day, but it does need to be kept in check. Over-socializing can result in “attention deficit disorder” or a lack of focus in areas necessary to keep your day on track. That goes for staff and doctors. If you continuously choose idle chit-chat when you are needed elsewhere, you have devalued your time. Time is a critical piece of the revenue puzzle.

Inability to make decisions and solve problems. This “wishy-washy” approach causes more confusion, misinterpretation, misunderstanding, disinterest and procrastination than almost any other inactivity. Granted, decision making is not always easy and sometimes cannot happen right now. However, at some point, a leader stops walking the fence and takes a position. Track important decisions in real time. If you need to, step in and make changes before inertia takes over. You can always adjust accordingly. Making a poor decision is a learning experience. Not making a decision halts progress.

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