Ethics on the Work Floor: How to Use Routines to Stop Wasting Time

By: Together Abroad 06-06-2016

Categories:* Ethics ,
Wasting time is usually a habit—something you unwittingly partake in, because you are used to allowing yourself to do so. You might have become accustomed to spending too long or too many moments on social media, or other such actions, and you might have grown tired of feeling guilty for it. Routines are a way of encouraging the developing of other, more productive habits.

There are several things you should keep in mind when you are aiming to develop a good work routine, in order to stop wasting time.

Keep the Enemy Close

Do not ignore the distractions or activities that most commonly cause you to waste time, or that you use to waste time with. It may seem counter-intuitive, but these form a crucial part of your productive routine.

Some people maintain that a so-called “cheat day” helps you stick to a diet. Apply this same logic to your daily routine; setting breaks for the things you are not supposed to do helps you maintain productivity. So, determine what causes you to waste the most time. Is it YouTube videos? Your phone? Smoking? All of the above? Integrate these activities into your day in a way that makes the most sense. Becoming accustomed to only partaking in them at a specific time, means they will not interfere during the hours you spend focused on your work. For example, going on Facebook during the time slot you allotted to Facebook may help you overcome the constant need to log on.

Organize Logically

After determining which parts of the day are to be dedicated to just working, and which are most suited for breaks, you need to determine in which way you are going to be completing your tasks. Start each day with making a list of priorities.

Perform your tasks in order, according to their priority. Group related tasks together. Complete tasks that, for instance, need to be completed in the same place, one after the other. For example, if there are several tasks that you need a colleague’s advice on, try to ask the relevant questions for each one in one go, so you can avoid wasting time by traveling back and forth from their desk. Making it clear for yourself which tasks require the most attention and which can be completed together, will make you more efficient.

When you are working, it may also help to figure out when you can afford to close the door to your office or turn off your phone. Is this at the end of the day, when there are fewer people around? If so, choose that time. Integrating a set few hours of distraction-free work into your routine allows more room for unforeseen distractions at other times.


After you have made the effort to develop a routine, try to follow it for a good while, and then take a step back. Is it working? Are you still wasting time now, but in other ways?
If you find out, for example, that by not using your phone until your set phone breaks, you take too many coffee breaks instead, then alter your routine to introduce a set coffee break.

You do need to exercise some willpower. Routines can help, but you also need a bit of self-discipline if you really want to stop wasting time.

Barbara Haenen