Management Articles


Big Time Wasters

By: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

Dr. Donald E. Wetmore is a full-time Professional Speaker having made over 2,000 presentations during the last twenty years to audiences from around the world. He is the author of "Beat the Clock" and dozens of published articles. Learn more at:

You may be well intended about getting things done during your day at work or during your personal time, but there are big time wasters that will conspire against you to take your productive time away. It has been said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. In conducting my Time Management Seminars over the last 20 years, I have identified five Big Time Wasters that you can attack.
  1. Poor planning. “People don’t plan to fail but a lot of people fail to plan.” Without a plan of action for your day you tend to direct your attention to the most urgent thing that may not necessarily be the best use of your time. Often, the day will be filled with wheel spinning and “busy-ness”, rather than business. When I was in the military, we referred to the “Six P’s”: “Poor planning produces pretty poor performance”. (I recall that some used a different word for “pretty”, but I’m sure you get the point.)

  2. Procrastination. Taking the time for planning is great but what if you don’t execute on your plan? You tend to put off doing what you know you ought to be doing when there is little or no pain for not doing it and little or no pleasure to do it. Procrastinating the unimportant things has a positive value in your day. The problem for many is that they are procrastinating the important items.

  3. Interruptions. You can do a great job of planning and not be much of a procrastinator, but interruptions will come your way and rob you of productivity. An interruption is an unanticipated event. That’s what makes it an interruption. They come to you from two sources, in-person and electronic (telephone, email, beeper, pager, etc.) Interruptions are both good and bad. There are A (crucial) and B (important) interruptions that you receive without reservation. By definition, they have value to you and are welcomed. But then there are the C (little value) and D (no value) interruptions that only take you away from being as productive as you might otherwise desire.

  4. Failure to delegate. “If you want a job done well, you have to do it yourself”. Have you ever said that to yourself? The problem is you only have 24 hours in your day, 7 days a week for a total of 168 hours. Subtract from that the time you sleep (perhaps 8 hours per night, 7 nights per week, or 56 hours in total) and you are now down to only 112 hours each week to do everything you need and want to do. Delegation is plugging into someone else’s time stream when you don’t have the time or the expertise to accomplish a particular task. Delegation is how you can leverage your time through other people. A lot of time is being wasted by doing what ought to be delegated to others.

  5. Attending meetings. In a typical day in the United States, there are 17 million meetings. A meeting is when two or more people get together to exchange common information. What could be simpler? Yet it surely is a major time waster for many. They are particularly wasteful and unproductive when there is no agenda or time frame and the meeting then drifts out on one tangent and then another without concrete results.

© Copyright 2001 Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

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