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Why two-thirds of our time at work isn’t actually spent on work

We spend too much time on 'work on work', according to Asana. (Source: Getty)

The way we work is changing. The skills we’ll need in the future won’t be the same ones we need now, and hiring practices are shifting as a result.

Amongst it all, are we becoming more productive? Are we using technology to be more efficient?

According to research by work management platform Asana, we spend far less time on work than we actually think.

“People at every size of company—in every industry— are spending hours in unnecessary meetings, responding to emails, replying to messaging pings, searching for documents and files, and duplicating efforts,” stated the report.

“This is work about work.”

And employees the world over are doing too much of it, which is wasting time, money, effort, and employee engagement.

“The majority of employees’ time (60 per cent) is spent on work about work, almost twice the amount they believe they’re spending on it (35 per cent). This leaves employees with limited time for thoughtful deep work.”

Here’s a breakdown of how we’re spending our time:

(Source: Asana)

According to the report, we’re being bogged down by emails and notifications; having too much work to do; wasting time by chasing approvals or feedback; or chasing colleagues to finish their work.

How to be more productive

For one thing, experts advise taking control of your meetings: you could make like Atlassian futurist Dom Price, who just went cold turkey on his meetings and found that rejecting them flushed out unnecessary appointments.

For those of us who can’t just cancel meetings, the three golden rules of keeping them short, strict and creative will make them more productive, according to productivity expert and The 25-Minute Meeting author Donna McGeorge.

To really get some work done, you’ll need to get into ‘deep work’, a state of flow where you’re totally absorbed in your task and distraction-free.

If you find you’re working too slow, innovation psychologist and Inventium founder Amantha Imber told a Sydney audience at last month’s Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit that quitting multitasking would make you finish tasks 40 per cent faster.

And if you’re simply beat, there are ways to increase your productivity by doing very little at all.

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