Putting oneself in the right mindset to get tasks done can be more challenging than it seems. It may even be one of the biggest hurdles that most working professionals have to face daily. It doesn’t help that the average workplace can sometimes be a minefield of distractions. Indeed, it’s all too easy to get waylaid when a perfect storm of unnecessary meetings, near-constant phone notifications, and superfluous interactions with colleagues come together and hit all at once. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common time-wasters that you might encounter at work and what you can do to tackle them.

Red Tape

Red tape is a common workplace idiom that refers to excessive and redundant standards or regulations. As the name implies, they can be a major hindrance, getting in the way of important decision-making processes. Left unaddressed, these ultimately result in missed opportunities, significant delays, or outright inaction. Unfortunately, getting around red tape can be tricky, as these regulations are deeply embedded into a company’s culture and internal processes.

Frontline employees may not be able to do much about red tape, but those in senior management positions can certainly make their colleagues’ jobs easier. Hence, empower your employees and allow them to make decisions by themselves without having to run everything by a higher-up. This can go a long way towards saving valuable time.

To further aid employees in making these decisions and becoming more autonomous, extensive training should be provided on vital processes or anything they might need to accomplish their tasks. For example, your organisation may benefit from enrolling workers into Microsoft Teams training courses if your company makes use of this software extensively. Other types of online training that can be valuable to workers include time management courses or classes about using Office 365 more effectively.

Unnecessary Meetings

Meetings are an inevitable part of working life, but it’s no secret that most people don’t enjoy them. Meetings are consistently voted as one of the worst distractions in the workplace. To make matters worse, many executives don’t feel that they are as productive or as effective as they should be. Additionally, research shows that meetings have grown longer and more frequent in recent years. It’s no wonder why workers are feeling overwhelmed and burned-out.

Fortunately, the solutions for this painful yet necessary time-waster are straightforward enough. For instance, it’s always a good idea to determine whether certain concerns can be addressed via email instead of scheduling a meeting for them. Establishing a clearly defined meeting agenda and sending materials ahead of time can also cut down on wasted time. Finally, keeping meetings under 30 minutes or setting pre-determined start and end times should help people stay on-topic and keep things moving along.


It’s easy to believe that juggling several tasks at the same time means a marked improvement in productivity. In reality, though, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Studies show that only 2.5 per cent of all people are blessed with the ability to multitask effectively. For everyone else, attempting to take on multiple complex tasks at the same time only results in split attention and lowered performance.

Instead of trying to do several things at once, the more efficient way to spend time at work is to focus on single tasks and plan your day to tackle the most difficult ones first. Once you’re done with one task, you can move on to the next item on your schedule.


Most modern workplaces have adopted email as their main form of communication, and for good reason. It’s fast, convenient, and allows employees to keep an easily searchable electronic record of all of their work-related correspondence. However, simply fielding emails and attending to near-constant notifications can take up a significant chunk of the workday.

Email overload is a very real problem that can be addressed several ways. For example, most email clients have built-in filtering tools that can help minimise distracting notifications and keep inboxes manageable. Meanwhile, those who use web-based email can make use of browser extensions or amend their settings to keep from being inundated by messages during the workday.

Smartphones and Online Distractions

It’s probably fair to say that smartphones have revolutionised the way that people communicate with others and consume information. However, with unrestricted access to the Internet also comes access to all of its temptations and distractions. Making matters worse is the fact that tech companies and social media sites profit off of their audiences’ continued attention, and thus are designed to keep them engaged for as long as possible.

If you feel as though online distractions are keeping you from getting things done, there are plenty of ways to disconnect. Turning off notifications for non-essential apps can be a big help to those who find themselves reaching for their phones every few minutes or so. Another thing that could work is turning on quality-of-life settings such as Focus Mode on Android or Screen Time on iOS. These features disable distracting apps for a set period, preventing you from using them during work hours.

Distractions are inevitable, but we can always take action to minimise them. By simply modifying our behaviours, we can all diminish the effects of these notorious workplace time-wasters on our daily lives, leaving us all with more time to do what we love.

Priority Management Australia always promotes work-life balance through proper time management. You can check out our productivity and time management courses here or get in touch with us today.