Sara London for Hive
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If you’re having trouble with time management, but you can’t figure out why, you may be engaging in some time-wasters that you don’t even realize you’re doing. Here, career adviser and author Laurie Ruettimann, a former human resources leader for companies like Monsanto and Pfizer, tells Hive how to stop wasting time and get control over your schedule.

1. Doing too much (or too little).

Ruettimann says that typical office time-wasters are office gossip or social media. But some less commonly known time-wasters are actually things that seem like they help your professional development.

“There are two kinds of workers in that scenario,” Ruettimann says. “People who use the extra time to take on more work or pursue developmental opportunities, and those who use the downtime to do their online shopping and look at dog videos on TikTok.”

Ruettimann notes that doing either activity in excess can be detrimental to one’s work. Whether it’s wasting time doing something that seems productive or unproductive, you have to analyze why you’re doing it and how it benefits the projects you’re doing with your team. Otherwise, you’ll just be doing busy work – which can be just as bad as doing no work at all.

If you find yourself unable to prioritize, leaving you working either too hard to not hard enough, Hive’s action card priorities can keep you focused. Different priority levels aren’t just determined by you alone; they’re a team effort, so you can rely on a set system to keep you organized even when you’re feeling disorganized.

2. Going too slowly.

Another time-waster, Ruettimann says, is going too slowly. Whether you’re spending too much time on one task in particular or you’re trudging through your to-do list, trying to find the next task to take on, you’re burning time if you’re not being mindful about clicking from one window to another or hopping on Slack every few minutes.

“Task lists are a must for people who get distracted,” Ruettimann says. Hive provides tools like a personalized view of your action items, so you know exactly what’s on your schedule for the day.

Ruettimann also recommends reaching out to your supervisors if you’re having trouble wasting time.

“You can also ask your manager to help keep you on track,” she adds, “through weekly check-ins and one-on-ones.” Hive Notes can allow you to take notes with your manager during a check-in collaboratively and set tasks for yourself to complete after the meeting ends.

3. Worrying about mistakes.

Ruettimann explains that being too anxious about potential misunderstandings or blunders can waste time unintentionally.

“People also waste time being scared to make decisions,” Ruettimann says. “The irony is that those people get fired or passed up for promotions down the road because they never take risks.”

Believe it or not, Hive has tools that can help alleviate some fears about making mistakes. With easy proofing tools, you can feel confident knowing that your work will be reviewed by any peers you need input from and that your action item won’t be completed until it’s just right.

4. Looking to others too much.

While teamwork is an essential part of any job, Ruettimann says that relying on others too much for tasks you can accomplish yourself can cause one to waste time. You shouldn’t be unsure about your performance; even if you’re new to your team, double-checking everything with a peer could be eating into a chunk of your workday. You were hired because you’re an expert in your particular area, Ruettimann says, and you shouldn’t constantly feel like you need validation to believe in your abilities.

“By trying to be a “team player,” workers overcomplicate things and slow the team down,” Ruettimann explains. “You got hired to do your job. Lean into your expertise. Take a swing.”

Even if you feel like you need some guidance, you can rest assured that Hive has your back if you’re looking to spread your wings and fly on your own. Even if you forget to send out the link to that Zoom meeting, you can use Hive integrations to start an impromptu Zoom meeting and invite everyone in your team’s group chat in one fell swoop.

5. Believing you have too much time.

Another way you might be a time-waster is by assuming you have more time than you really do. Ruettimann says even if most of your work can be done in less time than you’re at the office, that doesn’t mean you can slack off the rest of your workweek.

Ruettimann tells a story about how her father used to tell her to waste as much time at work as possible, and it taught her a valuable lesson about maintaining a solid work ethic.

“That was a conscious decision he made, and it summed up how he felt about work: it’s for suckers,” If he could waste time and get paid for it, he would.”

It’s important to never compromise your work ethic by throwing away time you think you have. If you want to take a breather, be intentional about taking reasonable breaks that can allow you to recharge. Hive allows you to customize a user status, telling colleagues that you’re in a meeting, on a coffee run, or even taking a short walk, so that you can feel like you’re holding yourself accountable for your time.

6. Waiting on another time-waster.

Ruettimann says that if you’re waiting on someone you know is a time-waster, you could end up wasting time yourself.

“If a teammate is unfocused or wastes time, be a “peer leader” and exemplify the values that are important to you,” she says. “Document when you can’t do your job because of your colleague. And be ready to say no when that disorganized, time-wasting colleague asks you to put in extra effort to cover their tracks.

Ruettimann emphasizes that boundaries are imperative when dealing with a time-waster. If you’re on a project with someone you know might be a time-waster, Hive has time tracking tools where you can add a time estimate for the length of an action item. That way, if tasks aren’t getting completed in a timely manner, you can see where the gaps are and have an honest conversation with your teammate about moving forward.

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This article originally appeared in Hive — the world's first democratically built productivity platform. Learn more at Hive.com.

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