You're at work, and you just can't seem to focus. Maybe it's because you didn't get enough sleep the night before (read: you spent way too much time watching Netflix), or because you skipped breakfast this morning. Or maybe it's neither: maybe, just maybe, you're wasting time at work doing things other than . . . work. That said, here are the eight biggest time-sucks when you're in the office, plus solutions for increasing productivity so you can do your best job ever.
How much time do you spend texting your roommate about what to make for dinner tonight? "Turn off your phone during peak work hours!" says Hallie Crawford, career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com. And if you really must know if he's cooking shrimp scampi or chicken parmesan, wait till lunch to hound him.
2. Leaving your office door open.
"Shut it when you have an important project to focus on," Crawford says simply. Leaving your door open invites coworkers to come in and chat, which is OK . . . once in a while.
3. Talkative coworkers.
And speaking of chatty colleagues, sometimes you just have to shut 'em down (politely!). "It's amazing to have friends at the office, but keep in mind you're at the office," says Jill Jacinto, a millennial career expert for WORKS. "Don't let personal conversations with your work BFF go on and on." Her easy fix? "Make plans for an after-work happy hour to get the lowdown."
4. Checking your email.
You'd rather be doing anything but totaling those sales reports, so you refresh your email sixteen times in a row (maybe you got a new one that requires your urgent response!). "Log out so it doesn't beat you," Crawford says. Seriously! Exit out of the tab. Give yourself a fifteen minute timer for the next time you can check it — and only allow yourself three minutes once you're logged on.
5. Going out for lunch.
Taking your sweet time at Chili's so you can delay that task your boss has been bugging you about? Not your best idea. "If [your lunch breaks] last too long, bring your lunch a couple of days a week," Crawford says. It'll take you twenty minutes to polish off your peanut butter sandwich, and then you can jump back into your work with minimal time wasted.
6. Long meetings.
"Make sure there's an agenda and someone to keep time and lead the meeting," Crawford says. "Have everyone prep in advance." Your team should be striving for quick, concise, and to-the-point meetings, so you have more of your day to work on projects.
7. Online chats.
Those work chatrooms the company set up are great for when you need a quick response from your coworker about the upcoming marketing campaign. However, they're not intended to be used for discussion about your cat's latest antics. "Ween yourself off of [IM chat]," Jacinto says. "Don't be the first to IM. Know that you can share and chat on your personal time!" Jacinto also recommends you schedule a specific period of time in your day to log on and chat — during your afternoon slump is best, because it'll pick you up.
8. Not prioritizing.
We're all guilty of it: working on the stuff that isn't time-sensitive simply because it's easier. "Create your to-do list for the next day the day before so you don't waste time in the morning," Crawford says. Around 4:30 each afternoon, create a quick doc on the things you're going to take on tomorrow. Look at that — you're well on your way to a higher, better performance at work!