More than sixty years ago, Toyota began identifying the Seven Areas of Waste in their manufacturing plants and eventually offices. The wastes of Defects, Inventory, Processing, Waiting, Motion, Transportation, and Overproduction have proven to be areas to pay attention to.
Most of us think of inventory in the office as being things like paper clips, sticky notes and computer equipment. But another inventory item is time. Unfortunately, it’s not something we can stock up on, but it is something we often misuse.
According to Marlene Caroselli, author of “Empower Yourself”, the average employee today has about 37 hours of unfinished work on his/her desk at any one time. Hopefully that won’t cause you to throw in the towel on finishing the project currently on your desk, but to cause you to look around your office and identify areas you know you’re wasting time with.
Muda is a traditional Japanese term for an activity that is wasteful and doesn’t add value or is unproductive. As you look around your office, where do you see excess or wasted resources stealing your time? Here is a short list to get your wheels turning:
- Emails – The average number of emails received/sent per day is around 125. It is not uncommon to see in excess of 3,000 emails sitting in someone’s email Inbox. Think of the time wasted sorting through these emails, not to mention the server space required for storing all of them.
- Meetings – Americans live in a meetings culture. There seems to be a planning committee for everything these days! How do you handle being invited to meetings where you feel your attendance isn’t necessary? Do you ignore the meeting request? Or just not show up? If the numbers of meetings you attend were cut in half, and the remaining meetings were shortened in length, what would you do with all of the saved time?
- Personal cell phone use/texting – Every time you are interrupted, it takes, on average, 64 seconds to regain your train of thought. This applies to interruptions such as email, coworkers stopping by, and checking your cell phone. If your employer does not require the use of your cell phone, silence it during work hours, checking it over lunch for personal messages and texts.
- Social Media – More and more companies are blocking social media websites during regular work hours because productivity is decreasing as too many employees update their status or tweet the latest news. If social media is contributing to procrastination of important projects, time to shut if off or join Facebook Anonymous.