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5 Time Sucking Traps that Strip Your Productivity

Let’s talk about the single biggest waste of money in your business? Do you know what it is? Wait for it …

… it’s your TIME! Using your time poorly that is.

How easy it is to fool ourselves into thinking we’re being really productive in our day, only to close shop with very little to show for it.

But you were busy all day right? Busy doing what? Were these the things you really should be spending your time on? Do they directly lead to business growth?

Let’s take a look at where we can get lost in the weeds with our time.

5 Time Sucking Traps that Strip Your Productivity

Checking out the newest and greatest

It’s the shiny object syndrome everyone talks about at play here. You go along just fine and then find out there’s a new Instagram app that will enhance your photos, or there’s a chrome add-on that will make your life oh so much easier.

Because we all have FOMO (fear of missing out) you stop everything you are doing and check out the newest and greatest. If you decide you need to have it, you install and then go learn it. Right then, right there.

What happened to the original project that was being worked on? Gone, forgotten and at the very least, delayed.

Social media and email rabbit holes

We need to interact with our customers and engage with those who connect with us on all platforms. So inevitably you will be on your social media platforms and in your emails several times throughout the day. That just has to happen.

However going in for one thing and having curiosity pull you over into another…  and another … and another may be entertaining but it doesn’t advance the business one iota.

Email presents the same danger. You enter in with a mission and your own agenda and then you end up fulfilling everyone else’s requests. Before you know it your priorities are in the trash.

Less Skilled Tasks

When you first start out in business you may feel like you have to do everything yourself to save money. I get that and I definitely did that too. But now I wonder if this is really the smartest move.

I knew nothing about building a website and even less about bookkeeping. I spent hours having to research resources, then learning how to use them, and finally actually doing it. I wonder how much quicker my business would have grown if I had outsourced these things to someone who could do it in a third of the time and the right way.

The trick is to use your time doing other things that could bring quicker visibility and sales into the business. You may be able to move faster if you hire someone for projects instead of battling through them yourself.

I’m not one to look back for too long but it’s something to think about if this is the place you are right now.

Training/Webinar Attendance

There are many national conferences, online training courses, and local programs covering every topic you can imagine. These courses are fabulous and I encourage you to attend. However, if you do, make sure you don’t spend all your time (and money) attending the event and then come home and resort back to your same routine.

I’ve written 3 articles (some including free downloads) on this topic so for more information you can resource them here.

3 Questions to Help You Decide. Should You Purchase that Online Course?
6 Steps to Getting the Most Out of Your Online Course
10 Action Steps to Ensure a Trade Show Results in Business Growth

Zero Revenue Generating Tasks

If you’re honest, there are some projects that you just don’t like to do. They aren’t comfortable  or you’re not sure how to get started. So what do you do? The natural tendency is to revert to mindless busy work.

Here’s an example. You’re struggling with writing a blog article. No words are coming and you’re tired. So you look across the room and see something out of place. You go fix it.Zero-Revenue-Generating-Task Then you decide it doesn’t go there and, in fact, the whole area needs to be rearranged. There goes an hour of your time.

Did you really need to do that now?

Your blog still needs to be written.

Other examples of zero revenue generating tasks are relabeling product, cleaning off a shelf, alphabetizing your folders, etc.

Are you doing these tasks to be busy and you’re thinking you’re productive in growing your business? A little honesty check here!

So what do you do about this? How do you avoid these traps?

4 Solutions to Overcome Temptation

Mindset – Continual Analysis

The good news is you’ve started down the right path already. By reading this article, you can now be conscious of these activities.

Just by recognizing whether you are participating in an activity that doesn’t lead to sales will help you avoid it.

As Dr. Phil says, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.”

Top 3 Things List

Top-3-Goals-TodayAt the start of each day list the Top 3 Things you want to accomplish today. You get an “A+” if you prioritize them in order of importance.

Then start at the top and work through your list.

I like to put my least favorite project first so when it’s done I really feel accomplished. That momentum keeps me on a solid pace as I continue to the next thing on my list.

If you have a huge project that you can’t complete in one day. Break it down into smaller tasks and use those as your goals for that day.

Also allow a portion of your day for unexpected time fillers. Reality is you’ll need it. A customer calls. The UPS man wants to chat. A family member gets sick. It’s life.


Are you familiar with this term for business? It means doing a number of similar things all at one time.

The theory is that you save a lot of time not only in setting up for a project but also in output. Since your mind is tuned in to a certain mode, your ability to create and produce at a higher rate is elevated … versus starting and stopping which is what happens when you switch from task to task.

Create Uninterrupted Zones

Whether you are in an office environment or work from home, when people interrupt you it takes you off course. In Gary Keller’s book, “The One Thing,” he talks about how much time is spent re-engaging with your activity when this happens.

I’m working on this myself and finding that it works like a charm. When I’m writing a blog article or I’m doing an intense project in Infusionsoft (my CRM program), I really need to focus. So I’ll close my door or block myself off for a period of time. That allows me to complete the task quicker and better. I’m able to “stay in the zone.”

Hmm … that may be a case for working at Starbucks sometimes. :o)

So now I challenge you. Monitor yourself throughout your day and see if you can catch yourself in one of these time sucking tasks.

If so … GOOD FOR YOU! Identification is the first step to a course reset. As you make this a routine and focus your time on revenue generating activities, you’ll start to see that business of yours grow!

About the author, Sue

With over 30 years of business development and marketing experience, I've been fortunate to work with hundreds of companies of all sizes. Their needs range from start-up guidelines to advanced business building strategies. As current founder and owner of The Ribbon Print Company, we continue to recognize the need for these services ... not just for our customers but for the gifting industry as a whole. That's where the inspiration began for the Gift Biz Unwrapped Podcast and Blog.

1 Comment

  1. Shaun on December 13, 2017 at 10:54 am

    >The natural tendency is to revert to mindless busy work.

    Holy cow, so it’s not just me. That’s good to know. I do this ALL the time. And to be fair, mindless busy work can be good as a means of getting yourself back in the groove if you’re having problems getting yourself to stop goofing off and get to work – do some mindless easy work for a bit and then move on to something more intellectually challenging. But it’s not good when you find yourself doing it all the time like I do!

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