(Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Computers are probably the most efficient tool that most of us use at work. Unless we check email endlessly, or shop online, or update Facebook to the point where it keeps us from work.
Here are some tips for stopping the loss of time.
* Set a specific amount of time for Internet use each time you go online, said Angie Long, assistant vice president of strategic initiatives at Cottingham Butler.
"I also try to set certain times throughout my day to read and respond to email. But I can also be my own worst enemy; sometimes I constantly watch for emails so that I can respond quickly and get them out of my inbox."
* "When you read an email, do something with it," such as moving it to a folder or category, said Sheri McAuliffe, of Alive Design by Sheri Professional Organizing.
Otherwise, your inbox just keeps growing.
"Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe," she said. "That's more stuff coming in than you need."
Or better yet, when a store asks for your email, don't give it out.
* "When looking for an old email message, use your email program's search feature rather than dig through old email items or email folders," said Nicole Soer, assistant director for professional development at Loras College. "I encourage people to simplify their elaborate inbox folder structure by utilizing just three or four folders."
* "Specify certain times of day to check email (8:30, 10:30,1:30, etc.) When you check your email, then flag or categorize the important emails and take care of those immediately. The remainder of messages you can deal with once or twice a day," Soer said. "Turn off your desktop email alerts that appear every time a new email message appears."
* Track where you spend time on the web.
"Rescue Time Website (www.rescuetime.com) is one of the best resources that I know of to track your computer time. It will specify how long you spend in various applications (Excel, Word, Outlook, Google Chrome, etc.). If you are on a web page, it even notes how you long you spend on each website and allows you to note a particular site as being productive or not. For instance, if I am on Microsoft.com, I am probably researching something and this is a productive use of my time. If I spend one minute on weather.com, I am probably fine. If I check the weekend weather and then click on over to find out how the typhoon is affecting the Philippines, and then make a note of the snow that is scheduled to hit the East Coast next week, I find myself spending 15 or 20 minutes on that website, I am probably not being productive," Soer said.
* "To save time when scheduling meetings, use your electronic calendar rather than emailing or calling people. Picture this inefficient conversation: Does this time work for you? No, does this time work for you? How about this time?" Soer said.
* "Lesser known time stealers are things such as poorly planned meetings and miscommunication," said Terry McGovern, chair and assistant professor of accounting/business at Clarke University.
"This is the stuff of management and if they are happening, then firms should invest in training their managers to be more effective. Quite a bit of research suggests that meetings actually do waste time if they are not properly planned or run. Ideally, meetings should result in some sort of action; if not, then you probably don't need to meet. If you just need to inform, then do not meet, send an email, but it really depends on the content of the message, the purpose and the intended audience."
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