It’s time we talk about time. Why do we waste so much of it? It’s not like we have an infinite amount of time lying around somewhere that we can just use whenever we want.

We can’t just say, “Hey, pass me that jar of time I need a few more hours to finish this project.”

There are thousands of time management books, seminars and classes available to teach us all about managing our time. We have time-tracking software and lean management programs for our businesses.

This all points to one disturbing observation; we humans have time management issues. I think people in general just like to waste time. Think about it; what else can you waste and not have it cost you anything but time? Of course, as business owners we all know that time is money, or do we? Sometimes I wonder.

Being business owners puts us in a position where there are multiple ways that we can easily waste our days away if we aren’t careful. Don’t get me wrong; there are many things that need our time and attention, but we really need to be hyper-focused on where we spend our time. There are time wasters everywhere and we need to know how to spot them, stop them and get back on task. Here are five common (and avoidable) time wasters.

1. Talking Too Much

Photo courtesy of Stock.xchng/Richard Dudley.

Let’s face it, some people just talk too much. I met a subcontractor on the job the other day and he talked to me non-stop for more than an hour about all kinds of things not relevant to the job. Then he complains about how he works so many hours. This sounds kind of comical, but I see it all the time – people willing to talk forever about nonsense during work hours and then saying they don’t have any time to get things done. Here’s a hint: socialize after work.

2. Meetings

Meetings are classic time wasters, and although meetings are necessary they need to be short and to the point. Long, drawn out meetings without any agenda or point are going to end up costing precious time. Make meetings short and have an agenda or at least a plan.

3. Too much analysis

Have you ever heard the term “paralysis by analysis?” I know I am guilty of this one for sure. Sometimes though I think us business owners try to analyze every different scenario when making a decision. Sometimes we just have to think it over, use our gut instinct, make the decision and just go for it.

4. Social media

Photo courtesy of Stock.xchng/candicelo.

Unless it pertains to work don’t check it at work. Enough said.

5. Complaining

I know this sounds obvious, and it could also go into the talking column, but complaining is such a negative thing that it literally sucks the life out of your organization. This slows everyone down and wastes time and energy as well. Don’t complain.

There are many other time wasters out there, but if I list them all it would be a waste of time. So what is a busy landscape professional to do to combat the time consuming list above?

I think it comes down to awareness and paying attention to the things that waste our time. I know it seems rude to cut someone off who talks too much, but during the work day you have to make a choice: Do I want to spend an hour listening to this person’s latest drama or do I want to make sure I get this meeting over so I can get home and hear about my kids day at school?

I think a good way to look at it is kind of like trading time. When you are at work you are trading personal time for work time so it’s important that when you are at work you are spending your time on work and not other things. I for one would rather spend a very concentrated time focused day at work so I can get things done and get home to spend time with my family.

We don’t have an infinite amount of time and it really is important that we have a good balance between work life and personal life. If we really focus and cut out the time wasters at work we can have more time for ourselves and for our family.

Isn’t that why we all work in the first place?

Steve Rak II is president of Southwest Landscape Management, Columbia Station, Ohio, past president of the Ohio Landscape Association and a partner with his brother Jeff in Rak Landscape Consulting. Reach him at [email protected].