ATI-Mirage Blog

Winter Fit “Desk”Time Bandits 

Posted by Ross Sampson | on 09-Aug-2018


Have you ever got to the end of the working week and wondered what you’d actually achieved? If so, you’re certainly not alone, and it appears to be an increasingly common phenomenon.



Work-life is full of deadlines, priorities and routines, all competing for our attention and energy. Unless you are adept at prioritisation, planning and efficient task execution, you may feel that your workload controls you, rather than the other way around!


A frequent complaint we hear is that “the day just seems to disappear.” Good intentions seem to get derailed by interruptions, and instead of making progress on that crucial project, other people’s priorities and agendas seem to have hijacked your day. Sound familiar?


It may be that ‘time bandits’ are a major part of the problem. There are many of them, but the most common seem to be:


  • Meetings that are either unproductive or irrelevant to you and your role
  • Interruptions (incoming phone calls, incidental corridor conversations, urgent emails etc.)
  • Unnecessary and time-consuming administrative processes
  • Colleagues who monopolise your attention
  • Apparently urgent, but often trivial, tasks
  • Digital distraction (that cute cat video or amusing Twitter feed)
  • Constantly shifting priorities
  • An inability or reluctance to say ‘No’ or ‘Not now’.


To identify which time bandits are robbing you of valuable mindshare and focus, why not keep a time log? This is an important first step, and frequently sheds light on why you feel that time has ‘just slipped away!’ Here are a few pointers for effective time logging:


  1. Keep the log over a representative period of time. Usually 3-5 days is the minimum required.
  2. Record things as they happen. Don’t wait until the end of the day: if you do, your log is likely to be inaccurate.
  3. Be very specific.
  4. Record everything, from phone calls to writing/reading e-mails, meetings, going for coffee, long corridor conversations, the actual time spent on ‘priority one’ tasks, social media or web browsing, daydreaming about your upcoming holiday…absolutely everything. After all, no-one is going to read this but you, so you can be truly honest!


Once you have completed your log, categorise your activities and review the results. It is likely that this process will highlight which time bandits get in the way, and which habits tend to hijack your day.


Now put in place new routines, practices and controls to improve your efficiency and effectiveness.



Equip yourself to succeed with our time management courses:


Time Management and Personal Productivity


Time Management with Outlook



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