For my book, Work Less, Do More, I sponsored a telephone survey in which more than 400 men and women were randomly chosen to answer the question of how much time they wasted each day at work not including lunch or commuting time.

If I asked you that question, what would your answer be? Do you even know how much time you waste at work? Are you checking e-mails constantly even though you know it's counterproductive because it distracts you from working on that report that's due. I call this "distractionitis" which is different from multitasking in a way that's useful and effective. Do you take every single phone call even if you can see, by looking at your caller ID, that this is not a priority call and you should really let it go to voice mail? Are you going to meetings in person that could be done more effectively over the phone, saving you lots of time and money? Are you only communicating by e-mail and failing to have an in-person meeting when it's warranted. Some in person meetings are important because of the kind of interpersonal connections necessary to maintain client loyalty.

Those in my survey answered that, on average, they were wasting almost one hour (50.3 minutes) each work day. Maybe an hour doesn't sound like a lot of time in an eight-hour workday. But if you multiple it times five – or even six or seven if you currently put in a six or seven day work week – it adds up to five or more hours or almost an entire workday that's being underutilized. What can you do about this? The first step is to start asking yourself, and having a concrete answer, to the question: "Where does the time go?"

If necessary, keep a time log to determine where your time is going each day. (See pages 14-15 in Work Less, Do More for a blank time log that you can fill in. Two additional blank time logs are provided in the book's Appendix, pages 200-203.) Once you know where your time is actually going you can start to make some concrete changes so you put more time into priority concerns as you get more done and in a lot less time.

How much time are you wasting each day and how?

Jan Yager, Ph.D. helps individuals and companies to become more efficient through her workshops, coaching, and her writings, most recently, Work Less, Do More: The 14-Day Productivity Makeover (Sterling Publishing Company). For more information, go to: