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9 Time Thieves That Are Ruining Your Productivity

Time thieves are everywhere. They sneak into your workday and wreak havoc on your productivity. And a lot of the time, we don’t even realize how much time is really being taken from us. The first step to wasting less time is identifying what these time thieves are.


The majority of respondents agreed that social media was a huge time waster. They believe that to be more successful, people should spend less time scrolling and more time doing things that will help them reach their goals.


But there are also many less obvious time thieves. Here’s a sampling of the ones our community identified, and their tips on how to get that time back.


“Attempting to multitask. It may seem as though multitasking is more productive, but it’s better to set time for certain activities. [For example], one hour for handling emails, two hours for working, twenty minutes for lunch, etc. This allows better focus for each portion of the day. And for those who like to browse social media throughout the day, there are Chrome extensions that you can set to keep you off certain sites at specific points of the day.”
— Sara Jamison Haley


“Doing just one thing at a time helps you remember more, get more tasks done in less time, de-stress, and bring more attention to your work. This is opposite of multitasking and jumping from one job to another. I complete harder tasks first because I get tired [when I] leave them until the end.”
— Slavisa Ristic


“Procrastination. When people put off something that they can finish within 5 minutes or immediately.”
— Maria Regina Cruz


“Wasting time comes from unmanaged time: when there is no plan. Life should have a plan for work, rest, play, fun, learning, and more. Before you go to sleep, you should know what tomorrow’s plan is.”
— Amr Almgwary


“I believe that people waste the most time by thinking/planning something without doing or even starting it. You will never win if you never begin. So, the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”
— Minnie Da Minx


“Boredom. Lack of interest is one of the biggest enemies of productivity. This is why I love Upwork: Every day, in my freelancing career, I have challenging tasks to accomplish.”
— Eleni Nistikaki


“Time is wasted when you are giving time robbers the opportunity to steal your time. First of all, you should be aware of all your time robbers (common ones are checking social media, working next to someone who may talk to you, etc.). Once recognized, you should know how to fix them. You may also waste your time overthinking and hesitating about how to do your task instead of starting to do it.”
— Mouaad Dakhissi


“People waste time on not doing work properly at the start because you will have to redo the whole thing again. Beating around the bush instead of going straight to the point is also a waste of time in any communication.”
— Liza King


“Trying to do everything under the sun themselves. Reach out, network, and don’t be afraid to ask for or hire help. Like on Upwork for example.”
— Ronald Paul


What do you think people waste the most time on? Tell us in the comments.

Melanie Feltham

As the Social Media Community Manager at Upwork, Melanie Feltham works closely with the social team to engage Upwork's active social audience. Her spare time is spent walking the lakeshore near her home office in Toronto, drawing and painting wildlife, and working on passion projects–the latest, a book about misconceptions spread by popular media. Connect with her on Twitter @MelanieFeltham to find out more about… read more