Top 10 Time Killers: Which Of These Is Affecting Your Business?

We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money” but the concept is particularly important for small business owners. With so much work to do and fewer employees doing it, an hour wasted (for example) is a greater percentage of the total work time, as compared to larger companies. As hours add up, you accomplish much less and suddenly you are falling behind other competitors in your market. Recently Office Time announced the results of their survey on the Top 10 Time Killers. The results may help you analyze where you are wasting time, and how you can improve your performance.

The data for the report on Time Killers comes from a worldwide survey of over 600 people, most of whom were small business owners, freelancers and professionals. Each person was asked about particular daily activities – for example, meetings. For each activity, the researchers calculated the percentage of people saying they engaged in this activity for 1-2 hours. The activities were then ranked in order of highest percentage to create a Top 10 list.

Many of the time killer activities related directly to business requirements. For example, 8 percent of people said that getting caught up in bureaucracy/red tape was a time killer (#10 on the list). Others cited commuting (13 percent, #7) and meetings (18 percent, #6).

Another important time killer can best be summarized as ‘idle time.’ Sixteen percent of people waste time in non-business-related conversations (#6 on the list) and 19 percent waste time by procrastinating for 1-2 hours a day (#4). Although not everybody procrastinates to that extreme, 9 out of 10 respondents admitted to some level of procrastination.

The final group of time killers is perhaps the most ironic of all. Technology has the power to streamline and simplify office work, but apparently it’s also the cause of a lot of wasted time. This includes talking on the cell phone/texting (10 percent, #9 on the list), social networking (11 percent, #8), watching TV (26 percent, #3), and surfing the internet (27 percent, #2). Finally, the number one time killer of all was email. 33 percent of respondents admitted to spending 1-2 hours per day with emails and an additional 22 percent said they spend more than 2 hours a day emailing.

Here’s a quick look at the full infographic of time wasters:

Infographic: Top 10 Time Killers

Top 10 Time Killers – An infographic by the team at OfficeTime Time Tracking

Here at Small Biz Technology, we love to talk about how technology can make small businesses more efficient and help them grow. This survey, however, serves as a reminder that there are also potential downsides of technology. Take a moment to analyze the time killers that you and your employees have fallen victim to, and then take the steps to correct the problem. Technology should be a small business’ best tool for success, but it all depends on how you use it.


About Jennifer Peaslee

Jennifer has a Masters in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame. She is currently working as a freelance writer, editor, blogger and researcher.