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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

82 Secret Time Wasters in Business

Written By: Carol Roth | 15 Comments

So, we’ve all heard the phrase “time is money” ad nauseam, but really, nothing is more true. Well, I have again reached out to my network of valued experts and entrepreneurs to find out the secret (and in some cases, not so secret) ways that entrepreneurs most waste their precious time during their business day so that you can avoid the same fate. Their answers are presented below in no particular order. But read them fast; time is money!

You may notice some similar concepts, but I kept the insights separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.

1. Cleaning Out Spam

Filtering through your email to clean spam is a HUGE time waster since my spam box fills up to 10 emails every few hours, which annoys me because I HAVE to personally clean it out. So, I waste a few precious minutes each time doing it, especially because I break concentration from what I am doing at the time and then, I have a hard time tuning my focus back to whatever it was I was doing before I cleaned out the spam.
Thanks to: Danny Wong of Men's Dress Shirts | BL.

2. Organizing with Shovel & Guts

Countless hours are lost "organizing" and preparing for the day. Piles of paper, hours of pointless web surfing, to-do lists taped to every wall and still, entrepreneurs don't get anything done. Why? They are organizing based on gut feeling alone; just shoveling the piles from left to right. Swallow your pride and talk to a coach or mentor. Research a time management method--and use it. Use your business plan as a living document. Don't let being busy keep you from doing business.
Thanks to: Karen Southall Watts of Karen Southall Watts.

3. Don't Answer That Phone!!

We all know the obvious time wasters...emails and social media (at least for me). But what about the not so obvious...those friendly phone calls? You know, the ones where your girlfriends call you up for a quick chat or your parents call to ask you a question because they know you work from home. All those phone calls can quickly add up to a lot of wasted time. I've found that screening my calls (ALL my calls - thank you GoogleVoice) allows me to be in charge of when I take a phone break.
Thanks to: Katy Tafoya of Success for Solopreneurs.

4. Be Willing to Prune the Branch

How many times do you hang onto a client even when you know you need to release them? Do you find all kinds of excuses why you need to keep them?

I know some of my biggest time wasters happen when I should prune the branches. I have found that some clients are very high maintenance & yet they do not net much return. It is okay to evaluate your business and prune away those branches that are dead or dying. By doing so, you will give more power to the tree (business) & open the door for growth.
Thanks to: Robin Hardy of Integrity VA Services.

5. Facebook

The average visit is 20 minutes long and for most people, it's not work, it's play.
Thanks to: David Hooper of Private Victory.

6. Emails, Emails, Emails!

Thank you emails to a mailing list of 25 people. 10 stream of consciousness emails with one thought in every email when those thoughts could have been summarized and structured into one. We do this and think we are efficient; we "get things out of the way". But in the end, it is just a way to be mentally lazy and waste precious thinking, productive time.
Thanks to: Stefania Lucchetti of Stefania Lucchetti.

7. Administrative Tasks

The biggest time wasters are administrative tasks like printing, making photocopies, mailing, depositing checks, etc. Try to get a good administrative assistant as quickly as possible, so that you can free up your time.
Thanks to: Vinil Ramdev of StartUp Growth Expert.

8. Control Your Online Activities

With so much business happening online, it is easy to be distracted by unimportant and/or non-business activities on the computer. It could be news, online games, or reading (and forwarding) non-business emails. None of this is terrible in moderation, but when you begin to lose more than 45 minutes a day to these activities, it is out of control. Instead, plan a couple of 20 min. breaks (use a timer with an alarm), do the activity without guilt, and stop when the alarm goes off. No exceptions!
Thanks to: Rob Salter of Best Discounts and Coupons.

9. Social Media Addiction

Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin & so many more social media platforms can be very addictive & wasteful because everyone is talking about how they are making so much money just updating their profile & status, which is what makes you fall for it. Be very mindful of time you spend on these platforms & have very clear networking goals to avoid the temptation. Use an application like ping.fm to sync all network updates, have the same password, schedule the time, etc. to save time spent on social media.
Thanks to: Devesh Dwivedi of Entrepreneur In Making.

10. Quick No Better Than Slow No

In business, we are all bombarded with a plethora of calls, voice mails, and letters from prospective suppliers and partners pitching services, products, and opportunities. Having the intestinal fortitude to pick up the phone and taking 20-30 seconds to concisely listen, evaluate, and make a decision (yes or no) will quickly put this topic to bed and avoid a tremendous amount of time wasting distractions in the future in the form of follow-up voice mails, emails, and letters.
Thanks to: Michael Fekkes of ENLIGN Business Brokers.

11. Time is MONEY!

Stop spending every waking minute focusing on the design of your website. Is it professional enough? Creative enough? Smart enough for a 5th grader? Pretty enough to capture eyeballs? The purpose of your website is for potential customers to find you because of your CONTENT. Content is king, as is cash.....and if the content on your website attracts prospects, your time spent on creating it will make you rich!
Thanks to: Vicki Donlan of VickiDonlan.

12. Touching Items Too Many Times

Okay, you have 15 things you just have to get done today, so you start with A. Then the phone rings, so you answer. Then you check email, and find out that there are a few things that could use a response. Then B rises to your attention, so you start that, then remember that C needs to be done right away. You get the picture. Create a list at the start of the day and prioritize it, then tackle it one task at a time. You'll get a lot done and feel good about how much you can accomplish.
Thanks to: Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk of BBR Marketing.

13. Time Eating Emails

Ugh, only 100 more to go through! Email is a great tool when used properly or the worst nightmare when it eats time. First, categorize each email as to the importance, value & urgency. Create categories & drag and drop. Now, you can focus on the most important & urgent, saving the rest for off time or even never time. Phones do work when an answer is needed or for a complicated discussion; a 5 minute conversation can eliminate 20 emails. Ask yourself, is this effective & efficient communication?
Thanks to: Harlan Goerger of AskHG.com.

14. The Email Monster

The biggest time waster in businesses is checking email. Email, email, email. I am addicted to it. I must check it 50+ times a day, when 2-3 times would suffice. I may have to enter a 12-step email checker anonymous program to kick my habit. On weekends when I do not check email that often, I seem to get a lot more work done in half the time. So, force yourself to not check your email so often. It may just save your life and your business.
Thanks to: Peter Geisheker of The Geisheker Group Marketing Firm.

15. Wake Up!

The biggest time waster is day dreaming. Thinking about what you will do or how things could be will get you absolutely nowhere. Take action if you have a business plan. If you do not have a plan, get one. Dreams will not put one penny in your bank account. Action will.
Thanks to: Mitch Carnell of SPWC.

16. Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Not having a plan for what needs to be done during the day leads to wasting time. A plan helps keep you focused and on task so you can work through projects quickly and efficiently. Not having a plan results in wasting time figuring out what to do. Instead, one attempts to look busy by spending too much time on email, Facebook or shuffling papers around on the desk, all of which produce little, if any, monetary gain.
Thanks to: Leslie Truex of Work-At-Home Success.

17. #1 Time Waster- Phone Chat

I must spend at least two hours a day (I work from home) talking to people who have nothing in their life but time. They like to talk and talk and I cannot be rude to my relatives--but if I tell them I am working, they are so surprised because it's 8pm at night. Often, I am up at night working after being out all day speaking, as I have lots of emails to answer and preparation work. Sometimes, I just want to rest and not answer the phone.
Thanks to: Leslie Jacobs of Les is More.

18. Pay Me or Pay Me More Later

Lack of preparation wastes a lot of time for any person in any business. My philosophy is that if you do not spend the time to prepare (pay me now) then almost everything will take more time in the execution (pay me more later). An example is meetings that go on and on because participants did not prepare.
Thanks to: Janet Christy of Leverage & Development, LLC.

19. Attending Networking Events

Attending networking events can be a total time waster if you are not going to take time to follow up with your connections. A networking event is not like speed-dating. The point is to grow your network of people you know, not to create the largest business-card collection.

When you are first introduced, take some time right then to have a conversation that warrants a follow up conversation. If there is a mutual benefit, set the time to re-connect and then follow up.
Thanks to: Angel Tuccy of Experience Pros.

20. Know the Buying Moments!

The biggest waste of time in a small business is reaching out to potential customers when they are not in a mood or position to buy. Rather than cold calling clients, can you identify when they will be having a buying moment? Florists can remind someone of their wife's birthday. Financial analysts identify when someone is coming into unexpected cash bonuses, inheritances, or a sale of a business. Every business has buying moments. Know your customers and you'll close more sales!
Thanks to: John Paul Engel of Project Be The Change.

21. Log Off and Get To Work!

The first part of each day must be spent on prospecting. This is the time of day when you are fresh, energetic & ready to conquer the world! Most people, unfortunately, waste the most valuable time of their morning READING E-mails. If your job is telemarketing, then you should be on the phone. If your job is internet marketing, then you should be SENDING E-mails. Admit it, if you are reading E-mails, you are being distracted by junk and spam. Save it for later and do what makes you future money first!
Thanks to: William Michael of Vallarta Escapes.

22. Non-Priority Priority Items

Prioritizing your list is not enough. There will be many items on your list that are not of much return on your time. Evaluate your items with a different set of assessment standards. Identify your tasks to achieve outcomes. This means certain items on your priority list need not be there. You may "feel" that an item is important, but is it of financial value? Reducing these unimportant details can lessen the chaos in the workplace. Remember items that are not liked but are necessary, list them.
Thanks to: Peter Zawistowski.

23. Don't Do the $10 Per Hour Work

In my first year in business, I did everything - phone, teaching, collecting payment etc. It was almost my last year in business. There are people in your community who would love to help. Find them! Hire them to do the $10 an hour work. Focus on the $200, $500 and $1,000 per hour work. Now going into my 8th year, my biggest and best year, I work part-time and I focus on the things that bring in revenue: marketing, enrolling new students, retaining current ones and creating new programs. Let go!!!
Thanks to: Jim Josselyn of Academy of Music and Drama.

24. Do What You Do Best & No More!

When we first started our company, neither my business partner nor I had any formal business training. We were all over the place trying to be everything to everyone, all at once. Now we realize how much time and opportunity was wasted trying to customize our service to meet the needs of every prospect, instead of focusing on expanding our customer base with our existing service! So, my number one recommendation is figure out what you do best, and keep your eye on the prize.
Thanks to: Debra Brown of MobilizeUs.

25. Staying too Social?

We all love the free marketing and connections made on our beloved social media sites such as FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. but set a specific time in your schedule to update these accounts and stick to it! It is so easy to lose or trade valuable productivity with getting caught up with relatives, old classmates, reading links, etc. Schedule during your personal time to go back and socialize or network. Work hard and play hard to your benefit!
Thanks to: Sherell Edwards of The Christian Women's Leadership Ex.

26. Fantasy Football Foul

When you work at a regular job, spending business hours setting your fantasy football line-up doesn't cost you a dime. However, when you're a small business owner - fantasy football can suck up time and money. Set your line up when there's not much business going on - evenings and weekends. Forgo commissioner rights and responsibilities to someone who isn't a small business owner. Everyone needs a hobby and a way to relax, but self-employment requires self-discipline.
Thanks to: Dayna Edwards.

27. Waiting on Decisions

Decisions must be timely and conducive with goals and strategies. In my business, Clients, Partners and Contractors can delay decisions, so that time is lost and schedules cannot be kept. Over the duration of a Project (or series of Projects) from inception to conclusion, the lost time adds up to significant quantities and effects the bottom line over the course of a Fiscal Year.
Thanks to: Richard Johnson of Jedi Knight Improvements, Inc..

28. Do as the Romans Did

To do two things at once is to do neither. - Publius Syrus, 85-43 BC, Roman Writer.

Multi-tasking is the new myth of this generation - doing several things at the same time is better time management. Perhaps we can learn from the master minds of Rome. Focusing on one action at a time makes you more efficient and productive.
Thanks to: Marla Harr of Business Etiquette International.

29. Oops - What Agenda?

Meetings... love them... NOT! I realize they are a necessary evil and a good way to make sure everyone is singing from the same song sheet, but can someone please send out the memo "No meetings without a set agenda"! Time and again, I get pulled into a meeting that floats and wanders and wastes my time because no one took the five minutes necessary to draft and send out an agenda for people to look at and prepare for BEFORE the meeting. If we all can stay on topic, we can make more $.
Thanks to: Ben Baker of CMYK Solutions Inc..

30. Get Over It

Don't dwell on the negative stuff that happens to you or the things you can't control.

Stuff happens as you go about creating a successful life and career. Choose to respond positively to the negative stuff that happens.

You're in charge. You can dwell on the past and all the injustices you've suffered. Or, you can get off your butt and do something.

Commit to taking personal responsibility for your life and career by moving forward, not looking backward.
Thanks to: Bud Bilanich of The Common Sense Guy.

31. Touch Email Once!

The biggest time waster in business is using your email inbox as a holding bin. Touch Email Once! Looking at an email multiple times before making a decision turns one task into many. Use your tasks feature in Outlook to move an email out of your way for you to review again when it is timely. Create folders by client or event to move email for future reference. Create rules for email that you want to bypass your inbox and go directly into a specific folder for later review. Work Smart, Not Hard!
Thanks to: Jane Schulte of PRISM Business Advisors.

32. Not So Great Expectations

The single biggest "time waster" in business is a lack of clarity about expectations and goals. You can work hard to accomplish what you believe a client or prospect wants, but if you're wrong about those expectations, you have not only wasted time and money, but you have probably irritated the client or prospect. Take the extra couple of minutes and confirm expectations and timelines (in writing whenever possible) so everyone is on the same page. Then, it's simply a matter of doing a good job.
Thanks to: Scott Harris of Mustang Marketing.

33. The E-mail Jungle

Lack of organization creates time-wasting. Reading every e-mail is the biggest culprit. Someone wise once said, "When in doubt, hit delete." To avoid drowning in e-mail, create and label folders as follows: urgent, do now, for future reference, and maybe later. Spend a few minutes moving your e-mails into folders before you read them. Concentrate on urgent business first. Everything else can wait. An added benefit? Folders take up less space on your hard drive.
Thanks to: Jackie O'Neal of O'Neal Media Group.

34. Fear is the Time Vampire

The obvious culprits for entrepreneurial time wasting are Facebook, Twitter or the internet in general. While those tools can be the latest iteration of playing solitaire, the real time waster is fear. As Seth Godin discusses in his book 'Linchpin', the real time "vampire" is being afraid your work isn't ready to "ship." So, you waste time fretting that your best isn't good enough. Overcome fear--stick your neck out--it will make you more productive and less vulnerable to time vampires.
Thanks to: Alex Greenwood of AlexanderG Public Relations .

35. Walk Away from the Computer

Email is an absolute killer of time. Many people check email immediately upon entering their office or on one of their device(s) first thing each morning. And before you know it, precious hours have passed. A solution? Discipline yourself to (1) scan the emails and only address the necessary ones, and/or even better, (2) do not check email for your first hour of the day. Whatever messages are waiting for you can wait one more hour. Then, use that first hour of the day productively.
Thanks to: Rosanne Dausilio PhD of Human Technologies Global Inc.

36. Time Robbers

Entrepreneurs waste valuable time when they let interruptions take over. That could be the phone, people, email, tweets, etc. There should be a specific time when you deal with these things and you must train people to know your schedule and what you will and won't respond to. If people know you will get back to them, they are more tolerant of your "unavailability" right at the moment. And you'll gain 30 minutes to an hour each day.
Thanks to: Gayle Carson of Carson Research Center.

37. Email Eats Time

I do plenty of reading each day and without a doubt, reading email is the single biggest time-waster.

Back in horse n' buggy days, a phone call would put you on the spot. Your thoughts had to be organized and there was a very real sensation that you were taking someone's time, so you did your best to come to the point.

My take? 19 out of 20 emails should never be written. (And yes, I'm occasionally guilty too).

Thanks to: C.R. Zwolinski of Zwolinski Communications.

38. Send 'Em Packin'

Biggest time waster: sitting through pitches by media sales reps from media outlets that are totally irrelevant to the individual business's customer base. If a business understands who their customers are or who they want them to be, then they can save a lot of time by sending these irrelevant reps packing before they really get rolling.
Thanks to: Dave Ramacitti of Marketing Over Easy.

39. Not Again- Computer Issues

I am ready to begin my day- I've listened to the news, worked out, and everything is great!
I sit in front of my laptop, ask, then pray for productive peace today from a machine with a type A personality, one that likes to control everything.

My biggest challenge is the machine and the guts that run it, no matter how you tweak it or how you care for it, it has a mind of its own! This mind can steal productivity and drain your patience, which eventually returns nothing!
Thanks to: Jerry Pollio of CMT Creative Marketing.

40. Are You Sabotaging Your Time?

The #1 time waster for business professionals is worrying. Instead of focusing on what you want, you dwell on what is feared. As a result, people procrastinate or distract themselves by checking email twenty times per day. Another common self-sabotage is spending too much time on activities that produce a small ROI, like social media. Instead, get in front of people, develop relationships, and employ conversational selling strategies to grow your business!


Thanks to: Tim Shurr of EliminateSabotage.com.

41. Going Broke with this Habit

Procrastination is the biggest time waster! Entrepreneurs run into aspects of their business that they know have to get accomplished, but do not have the skill or desire to do so. Either way, procrastination creeps up and time keeps ticking, with no return. To combat this issue, finding team members that take those tasks off your plate so you can spend your time on what you like and are good at, will be the most productive and profitable for your business!
Thanks to: Sandy Zuniga of PEAK ASSIST, Inc..

42. Homepage BLANK for efficiency

When you turn on your computer first thing in the morning, those headlines can be fascinating.

Before you know it, you've wasted 30 precious minutes. What to do?

Simply set your homepage to "blank," which gives you access to the Internet without all the hoopla. No bells or whistles. That way, you're not tempted by the "10-year-old gives birth to healthy baby!" headlines, and can actually be productive and an asset to your employer.

I've saved countless hours by using this simple method.
Thanks to: Judith Brown of J Blair Brown Consulting.

43. Necessary Vs. Unnecessary

One of the biggest time wasters is not constructing a detailed plan for each day the night before. Without a specific scheduled to do list, the “unnecessary” can fill the time that the “necessary” requires. The detail needs to have tasks broken down into the smallest units of activity, how long each will take, and when it needs to be completed by. A structured overview provides flexibility in that it shows what can be done by oneself and what needs to be delegated to others.
Thanks to: Ronald Kaufman of Ronald Kaufman Consultancy.

44. Meet Less = Work More

Businesses think endless meetings are vital in terms of company direction, getting on the same page, blah, blah...yes, meetings are important...have one and then go to work! The problem is companies get addicted to them and more time is spent in meetings than in creatively getting things done. Solution: Meet...and if there are issues that need to be followed up on, that's why God created e-mail, memos, and brief interpersonal conversations that don't need everyone to come together.
Thanks to: Craig Wolfe of CelebriDucks.

45. Email, Ugh!!!

I have a Love/Hate relationship with email. I can't get by without it, but I need to 'mine' it twice a day for those nuggets of gold and sieve out the pebbles. Some days, especially if I am in a hurry, it seems like my inbox is flooded. It seems almost perverse!
Thanks to: Susan Delphine Delaney MD, MS of susandelaneyauthor.com.

46. No One Cares About Your Story!

The biggest time waster is telling the story. Have you ever noticed no one cares about YOUR story? The energy they waste trying to act interested slows the momentum of the whole meeting. Instead, share:
• What's the problem?
• What's your question?
• What's your proposed solution?
Focusing on these three questions saves everyone's time. When a meeting is upbeat and efficient, people appreciate the freedom to get on with their work and they leave on a good note.
Thanks to: Dr. Kacie Crisp of Dr. Kacie Crisp Coaching.

47. The Rabbit Hole

One of the biggest time wasters is, of course, the fun & fascinating world of Google. Too many times, I've been in the process of researching something on the internet for a project, only to get sucked down the "rabbit hole" of some eye-catching, marginally-related tangent. The next thing you know, 20 minutes have sped by - oops! The solution: when possible, I make a note of searches I want to do and then save them til the end of the day, after I've gotten through the bulk of my workload.
Thanks to: Lizzy Shaw of Lizzy Shaw Public Relations.

48. Technical Difficulties

Computers, websites, copy machines, e-faxes, scanners... can eat up hours of my day. My natural instinct is often to learn how to master each piece of technology... but once I learned to give up and delegate, I've put a limit on e-time-sucking. Instead of learning how to properly layout a flyer or upload our logo for our printer, I can now spend the time creating new business. There are people who are great at this stuff... if you're not one of them, give up.
Thanks to: Elura Nanos of Laywer Up.

49. Manage Email More Efficiently

This tip goes to entrepreneurs and everyone who communicates with them via email - exercise email etiquette by taking two seconds to tag your email with a descriptive subject line. Generic email subjects like "Meeting", "Important", "Please Read", "Urgent Info", or "Introduction" give zero clue as to the nature of the message. Managing our inboxes takes significant time already. Do yourself and others a favor and state your purpose in your subject line. It'll save hours of e-sorting for all.
Thanks to: Macy Bodenhamer of Four22 Creative Communications.

50. Mental Pauses

Lack of focus: Daydreaming, wandering of the mind, happens all too often in an 8-hour day. Sometimes it's fatigue, sometimes it's boredom, but we all have lapses.
Thanks to: Phyl Weeks.

51. Spend Less Time Searching

The biggest time waster in business is disorganization! It sucks up your time and your money. The average American spends 55 minutes per day, looking for things they know they own, but they cannot find them (Source: Newsweek). 23% of adults pay bills late because they lost them in the sea of white papers in their office (Source: Harris Interactive). Today's fast-paced world requires one to be a skilled organizer or hire someone who is. Getting organized is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
Thanks to: Angela Cody-Rouget of Major Mom.

52. Email, the Silent Time Killer

Email can be the unsuspected time waster for the entrepreneur. It's too easy to be distracted by the constant incoming of new messages that are begging for your attention. It's better to organize your inbox, so that only the most time sensitive emails are displayed. All other email should bypass the inbox into their respective folders and only be checked when you've scheduled the time to read them. By scheduling your time and leaving everything for its time, you can be much more productive.
Thanks to: John Woodman.

53. Socializing Between Tasks

Whether in person or online, socializing in between tasks can add up to a lot of wasted time. If you are networking on Facebook, for example, you can get caught up chatting with your Facebook friends or reading their latest posts during work hours.

Also, when you go for your bathroom or coffee break, getting caught up in conversations can waste precious work time and cause one to lose focus on work tasks. Organizing one's time is crucial to staying focused.
Thanks to: Josh Kotlar of Volusion Design & Marketing.

54. Telephone Interruptions

Though taking phone calls is important for business, the call can still drag out for a very long time. If you are in the middle of other tasks or in a meeting, then let the caller leave a message. That's what the answering machine is for. You can call them back when the work schedule is not as hectic. Obviously, this does not apply to someone working as a phone operator or customer service representative. But for all others, schedule times in your work day for phone calls.
Thanks to: John Trent of Laptop Batteries.

55. Email and Facebook Messaging

Mine is a small business, so I don't have an email server that provides instant notification of messages. I find that I get caught up with waiting for important responses via email or even Facebook, staring at my computer screen and clicking "Check Mail" as if I could will a response. I need to be more proactive about setting time limits. I would get so much more done if I would simply check my email in the morning, afternoon and once more before 5:00, and then be done!
Thanks to: Sheena Edwards of Lizzie Lou Shoes.

56. Free Advice

The biggest waste of my time is a business partner who calls to outline a project, then asks how I might research and complete the work. After I explain what needs to be done and how to do it, sometimes he thanks me, hangs up and apparently does the work himself. Bingo – no pay. Other times, I get to do the work. But I am never sure which call is a pay-for-me project and which one is for my now-free advice. As a small shop, I can’t afford to turn down anything. Screening does not work.
Thanks to: Deborah Chamberlain.

57. Handle it Only ONCE!

I found that email consumed a huge amount of my time and decided to budget time to read and respond to them on an AM and PM schedule. This allowed me to handle each email only once and not have to get back to it later.

Also, purchasing the iPhone and using their applications have allowed me to respond immediately to matters as they arise, instead of waiting until I get back to the office to handle them.
Thanks to: Bernice Dickey of My #1 Is Still My #1!.

58. Too Easy...

Social media can be a HUGE time suck. This is especially true with "audience engagement/conversations". I don't mean to suggest that this tactic is bad, but it can be a waste of time if it isn't moving things toward revenue producing activities.

Always keep this in mind when using social media for marketing purposes. Marketing's job is to create qualified leads for sales - social media is no exception. Social media can be good for this, but do not get carried away having "conversations".
Thanks to: Erik Anderson of Infinity Print Group, Inc..

59. Email- A Huge Distraction

Regardless of how well written your email is, you're still only 1 of the 176 emails the average business decision maker gets each working day. 2.8 million emails are sent every second of the day. Using email as a sales prospecting tool may be affordable, but it is an extremely ineffective tactic. The hardest question we have to ask ourselves is, “Do I use email because it's an effective tool, or do I like it because it is easier than making those calls that get you the appointment?”
Thanks to: Bill Todd of Immediate Impact Sales Coaching.

60. This Meeting Sucks!

Calendar Update: Mon-sales meeting, Tue-team meeting, Wed-managers meeting, Thur- section meeting, Fri-company meeting. Add in one-on-one meetings, working lunch meetings, planning meetings, and rescheduled meetings... no wonder the real work never gets done! If we must have meetings, let's make them Twitter meetings- concise and to the point. (1) What is the situation, and (2) What are we doing about it? Meetings lasting more than 10 minutes mean something is wrong. Let's meet to discuss this!
Thanks to: Steve Gallegos of WhoYa.

61. Research Everlasting

The biggest time waster that I have been afflicted with as an entrepreneur is spending countless hours researching the best or newest way to do something (aka: "shiny penny" syndrome). Doing your homework is fine, but doing it to the point that you are not actually getting those somethings done is not. Eventually you have to stop looking and start doing!
What I do now: I look at two options and pick the one that seems to be the best. I look at a third if I must, but then I use it and move on.
Thanks to: Barbara Roehler of BR Innovations LLC.

62. It's an Addiction-Get Over It!

Checking email, blogging, facebooking, texting - all time wasters. People spend 6-8 hours a day on the computer or cell and then lament that their To Do list is still not done. If you work from home, the secret is to believe that you are REALLY in an office away from home. If you do work in an outside office (or your home), a timer might just be your best friend! Check all you want for 2 hours and then start doing your real work! Stop your addictions - there IS life away from the computer!
Thanks to: Sheila G. McCurdy of clutter STOP.

63. Freeloaders Waste Everything

Save time and money: qualify prospects fast!
Some people take free anything...including lunch at your expense, if paid first.
Meetings at 11:30 = “Let's go to lunch”.
Qualify first--save time, money, and aggravation.
Then accomplish more with worthwhile prospects more likely to become clients!
Thanks to: Richard Cavalier of Meetings/Cavalier.

64. Distractions to Inefficiency!

During the routine of any day, many distractions appear to divert our attention and thereby, our productive focus and efficiency. Many people find comfort with their friends, so when a friend calls and wants to chat or has an issue, it can be awkward to say "I'm really time saturated right now, and I'll have to call you back later on." If the friend or partner has an emotional issue, the offloading of their emotions to another can waste energy throughout a day. Know the limit of your energy!
Thanks to: W. Michael King, Ph.D. of Advisor, Mentor.

65. Losing Focus of the Mission

One of the biggest time wasters I see entrepreneurs struggle with is "Perfection Paralysis". Instead of actually getting out and conducting business, like the activities that lead to sales and revenue, many are stuck preparing to do business. So much time is spent on getting logos, websites, and other promotional materials "just right", they forget the mission.

The mission is this: Do your business and get paid for it. Planning will mean nothing without paying customers. Get out there!
Thanks to: Karen Graves of Vision Launch.

66. Off the Subject - Again!!!

It's easy to wander off of the subject with customers, especially when you are talking with someone interesting. Before I meet with a customer, I make up a written agenda with a list of questions that need to be answered before we are done talking. I use a clip board and have a pen in hand, and then draw us back on track before we run out of time. Sometimes, it is other people who draw our attention away from the main topic. I point to the questions on the list and drag us back to the agenda.
Thanks to: Tom Hemphill of Hemphill Iron Works.

67. Activity or Accomplishment?

Are you busy or are you productive? Just because you’re busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest doesn’t mean you’re actually getting things done! One of the biggest time wasters can be getting caught up in the “bullshit work” that bogs you down and robs your time. Whether it’s a phone call you shouldn’t have picked up or an email that didn’t really need your immediate attention, don't confuse activity with accomplishment. Only results count.
Thanks to: Lou Bortone of Lou Bortone Video Marketing.

68. Get the "Just Pass Go" Card.

Just pass go is my suggestion because when you have hundreds of emails each day, you are wasting your time on many of them. My solution is "UNSUBSCRIBE!" It is easy to just delete and get on with your day, but if you don't unsubscribe to the emails that are not pertinent to the task at hand, you are wasting valuable time that you can't regain. For all jokes or other matters not related to your business, either unsubscribe or have them sent to a personal email for your lunch break or day off. Be disciplined!
Thanks to: Charisse Rudolph of Daydreams International, Inc..

69. Needy People

It's partially my own fault, but I too willingly spend time on the phone helping people I've met at meetings, conferences, or workshops. These are not clients or even potential clients, just people who latch on to me and keep calling for free advice.

My solution, since I don't feel right to just ignore their calls, is to set a time limit at the start of each conversation- not just to me, but to them! I do screen their calls, but when I take them, I let them know upfront how much time I can give them.
Thanks to: Ronald M. Katz of Penguin Human Resource Consulting.

70. Staring at the Screen...

It's a great idea to use Google Analytics for your website and social media presence so that you can evaluate your return on investment in your Internet marketing.

But if you don't know what you're looking for, you're wasting *any time* that you spend looking at the reports.

You need to know what your goals are for your online business overall, and for specific products, services, markets, etc. Where are you starting from and what do you want to achieve?

Make the numbers work for you!
Thanks to: Philippa Gamse of Total 'Net Value, Inc..

71. Guess Who's Stealing Your Time

Do you want to know who's stealing your time? It's those Social Media Webinars & Training Events. There are 7 zillion Social Media Experts out there that tell you that they have surefire methods to increase traffic to your website, how to generate business and obtain loyal customers. In the end, it's all hype. They take your money, your time and you end up still needing to grow your business. In the end, old school works best- great service, great products. Good business leads to Good Business!
Thanks to: Dr. Donna Thomas-Rodgers of The Power Starters.

72. We're People, Not Workers

Worrying about whether workers are spending work time doing personal things is like worrying whether the sun is coming up tomorrow. Of course they are, because they're people and they have lives. The amount of time spent on policies and supervision to stop this is crazy. Focus on the results and productivity, not trying to stop your people being people. In fact, better still is to let them be themselves; you'll get better results- more productivity, a happier workplace and waste less time.
Thanks to: Geoff Barbaro of Corporate Growing Pains.

73. Wasting Time on Non-Core Tasks

Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time on tasks like bookkeeping, administration, data entry, appointment scheduling, managing emails, following up, handling calls, online marketing, etc. All of these non-core tasks do not bring profits, but are absolutely essential for business functioning. The solution is a mix of right shore outsourcing, centralization of back-office tasks, and virtualization of business. These three strategic ideas can help small businesses grow faster in the slow economy.
Thanks to: Gourab Nanda of MyBusinessAssistant.

74. No Really, Stop Calling!

Cold calling suspects and prospects may seem like a smart tactic, but more often than not, it's a significant time suck with zero yield. Trade in the fruitless gate crashing of the cold call for real, value-added conversation with potential clients via social networking. Position yourself as an expert in your field by responding to questions on LinkedIn, commenting on blog posts, or starting your own blog or podcast. Engaging the right online communities can be a powerful sales driver.
Thanks to: Sherrie A. Madia, Ph.D. of Author, Social Media Survival Guide.

75. Computer Multitasking HELL!

This is by far the most untold and unsuspected business time waster of this century. Thinking we can do more by multitasking, actually get us to do less and waste more valuable time working on our computer. Having twitter, facebook, and emails open simultaneously make us more overwhelmed and less productive. You should close all of your social accounts when you are working on your computer, and focus all of your energy working on one task until 100% completion before moving to the next one.
Thanks to: Amel Mehenaoui of Strategic Marketing Solution.

76. Calm Cool Collected

Could a negative email or damaging blog post cost you or your company more than wasted time and emotion? Absolutely. To avoid this situation and before you hit 'send' or 'post', please ask yourself one question- "Would I want to see this published in the newspaper, company newsletter, or on the ‘Huffington Post’? If the answer is "no", hit the delete key and save your time for productive tasks that will improve your bottom line instead of adding risk to it.
Thanks to: Kelly Isley of Corcoran Associates.

77. Social Media: a Time-Suck?

It's easy to get sucked into unproductive activities, especially with social media. The internet creates an opportunity to wander– even answering this blog if I don’t know why. Avoid activities that don't produce an end result. The solution is planning and discipline. Why are you doing it? How much time should you allocate and how will it help the business? In my case, I chose to answer this blog as an opportunity for exposure to a new audience with a limited time commitment on my part.
Thanks to: Bob Stovall of Gain-Stovall, Inc. .

78. Do Good

The biggest waste of time for any business is to focus only on profit, instead of producing something that is meaningful and helpful to people. If every facet of your business is about doing good instead of only what is legal/right, then every stakeholder will benefit and your efforts won't be wasted on contributing to the short-sighted pride and greed that led to our current recession. Think "Tom's Shoes" instead of "Fannie Mae" and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about.
Thanks to: Dave Isbell of MSU Alumni Career Services.

79. Everyday Distractions

The steps to success are to plan, take action and stay focused. Each and every day, there are a lot of distractions: family, friends, children, co-workers, mail, email, the house, etc. Want to be successful? At the end of each work day, take the time to plan your next day. What needs to get done to go forward? Then, clear your desk. So when you come in in the morning, you are ready to work. In your plan include time when you cannot be interrupted. You will be amazed how much you can get done!
Thanks to: Caroline Wadlin MD of The Power of Pink MD.

80. Disguised 'Important' Emails

The biggest time wasters are long rambling emails which do not have a clear action point required by the sender- and you are on the circulation list just because you are a peer group. Unfortunately, there is always someone who finds it necessary to respond to such emails with... you guessed it, another long rambling email!
Thanks to: Naimish Dave of Avalon Consulting.

81. Check Your Vital Signs!

The lack of structure and organization is a major valuable time waster. The word organization contains the word organ (R. Smith). Organs have specific functions and when they do their job, TIME doesn't have to be spent correcting things that should have been done in the first place. Check your vital signs - are you organized? If not, you are wasting TIME and your business is lacking something necessary for life (organ-ization).

Check Your Vital Signs - Organ - ize.
Thanks to: Troy Campbell of TROYBOY INTERNATIONAL.

82. Poor Work Habits Costs You $$

Your inability to get things done not only drives you nuts, it costs you frustration and lost business revenue! Staying busy throughout the day may give you a false sense of working hard on your business, but when there is nothing to show for the time and energy spent, you need a reality check--- the only type of “currency” that always reads ZERO in your bank account. By incorporating effective work strategies on a daily basis, you can turn your efforts into real, billable hours.
Thanks to: Zenobia Garrison of Success Transitions.

Do you have another time waster that wasn’t included? If so, please share it below. As always, many thanks to everyone who contributed to this article!

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth