4 Time Wasters in Your Small Business

Small business owners often have little margin for error when it comes to time. They have to manage it all — products or services, employees, expenses, marketing, sales, and growth. Simply put, they can’t afford to take their eye off the ball. There are many ways to waste or have your time wasted as a small business owner, but here are four time-wasters that you can absolutely control, and how to manage them. 

Too Many Meetings

We’ve all been part of a meeting that could have been an email. Executives say roughly 45 percent of meetings are pointless. Some companies like to meet about every project, decision, or event. Some companies meet only once in a blue moon. There’s surely a happy medium where all meeting attendees leave with clarity and confidence in next steps. 

From your employees’ perspective, 71 percent of workers feel their time is wasted by unnecessary or canceled meetings according to TeamStage. Combat this particular time waster by:

  • Defining an achievable goal for each meeting: Determine what you hope to accomplish in the meeting ahead of time, and use the meeting to uncover the “how”
  • Setting a clear agenda: Outline exactly what will be covered in the meeting and how long each discussion point should take
  • Keeping the invite list exclusive: Not everyone needs to be invited to every meeting, unless you’re discussing sweeping changes in company policy (or similar)
  • Prepping contributors: Ensure the meeting invite is clear on why the meeting is taking place and how attendees can best contribute
  • Sticking to the schedule: Avoid tangents by taking less relevant topics offline in one-on-one meetings, while still allowing time for questions

Frequent Interruptions

It can take time to get into a flow state with your work, so the last thing you want is to be interrupted every 10 to 15 minutes. What’s more, starting and stopping work often leads to stress and errors. 

Once you’ve been interrupted, it can take an average of 25 minutes to return to your task. And it only takes a 2.8 seconds of distraction before you make double the number of mistakes in your work. 

But if the interruptions are coming from visitors – potential or existing customers, delivery drivers, or job candidates – you can’t ignore them. Instead, give yourself a break by ensuring they all have a stress-free way to grab your attention when you reach a good stopping point. 

The Receptionist for iPad is a visitor management system that allows people to check in when they walk in the door of your small business. So whether you’re head-down on an urgent project, you’re meeting with a client, or you have briefly stepped away from your desk, you’ll get a notification – via text message, email, Slack, or Microsoft Teams – that someone is there to see you, giving you the opportunity to wrap up the task at hand without losing your focus or having to check the lobby for visitors every time you hear a noise.

Or, even more possibly, if a visitor enters and isn’t immediately greeted, they may wander to the closest desk, interrupting the person there and shifting their focus away from their work. We call this Person Nearest the Door (PND) Syndrome. 

To learn more about how The Receptionist for iPad can help you get more work done, check out our product tour


Some people think they’re great at multitasking. But what they’re actually doing is task switching – rapidly moving from one task to another and back again. Research shows that the more projects you are simultaneously working on, the more time you are wasting, according to this information from Scruminc

There are several strategies you can employ to avoid multitasking and get your time back:

  • Start with a list: When you start each day, make a list of what needs to be done in order of urgency and stick to it. Check items off your list as you go for a dopamine boost
  • Set a timer: The Pomodoro technique helps you manage your time by encouraging you to focus on any one task in 30-minute increments — work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. 
  • Leverage your prime time: We all have certain hours of the day when we work best, so ensure you are getting more intensive work done during those times. To find your prime time, make notes about your day and the hours when you are able to accomplish more tasks.


Being disorganized can lead you down the time-wasting path. On average, each person wastes about 55 minutes a day – which adds up to 12 solid days per year! – looking for things they have misplaced. And having your workspace, office, or building full of clutter where nothing has a designated spot can make you more stressed. 

Being organized, by comparison, offers multiple benefits: 

  • Increased efficiency and productivity: Less time spent looking for things equals more time for getting work done. 
  • Better mindset: Clutter isn’t just on your desk – it’s also in your brain. An accumulation of stuff (pens, loose paper, old coffee cups, etc) leads to stress.
  • Streamlined workflows: When you’re organized, you can more easily transition from task to task. 

If you’re a disorganized person by nature, don’t fret. There are plenty of strategies, tools, and solutions for you to sort your life out. 

Make to-do lists

When you first arrive at your office every day, make a list of everything you hope to accomplish that day, giving priority to the most pressing issues. This way, if you aren’t able to get to everything on your list in one day, the leftover tasks can easily be moved higher on tomorrow’s list.

Ensure everything has a designated place

When you aren’t sure where to store things, it’s harder to find them later. Put items in places that make logical sense. For example, if you keep all of your digital files in a general folder on your computer, consider creating different drives for them. Client files should go in one folder, expense reports in another, and so on.  

Use planners

Some people have trouble managing their day-to-day appointments, so it’s helpful to use a planner. As soon as you set an appointment or meeting with someone, put it in your calendar so you minimize the risk of forgetting. 

Delegate when possible

You’re juggling a lot already as a small business owner, so find ways to delegate tasks to your employees. This is especially helpful when it comes to simple tasks that can be completed by anyone. 

Lean on software

There are many solutions out there designed to help you manage ongoing projects while giving you oversight into what others are working on. This lends itself to better collaboration and organization. Clarify who has what responsibilities and when they should be completed. 


Wasting time doesn’t just cost you money. It can also cost you your clients or your reputation. Learning to better manage your time is vital to your business’s overall success and longevity. By decreasing your time in meetings, minimizing interruptions, staying on-task, and getting organized, you’ll unlock a new level of productivity and give your business a boost. 

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