(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY When we think about wasting time at work, certain images come to mind: Playing Angry Birds, for instance, or posting on Facebook. But those are obvious time wasters. What's more insidious are things that look like work -- calls, emails, meetings -- but are not actual work. What do I mean by "not actual work"? They're not advancing you toward your career goals. Here are three signs you're not optimizing your time:
1. You're a font of knowledge on tabloid-fodder crimes. I get it. Conference calls are boring (see related post:). It's tempting to hop on over to a newspaper's website and go to your happy place as you read about the foibles of humanity. Being up on the news is good for our careers, right? But if your involvement on a call is so tangential that you can read about which teacher was arrested this week for sleeping with her students maybe you shouldn't be on that call.
2. You spend all day in your inbox. When you're deeply involved in a project you care about, you tend to let the email pile up, dealing with it in batches. When you're not focused? You click over every few minutes, answer things that didn't need to be answered quickly, get concerned about exactly what you're cc'ed on, and otherwise fritter away hours.
3. Your schedule is packed with things you won't be mentioning at your retirement dinner. Frankly, you're not even sure you'd mention them on next year's performance review. In general, meetings aren't our jobs. They're tools to do our jobs -- moving our organizations forward toward profitability or other goals. If you've been in meetings all day, but can't point to anything that changed in the world as a result, maybe you need to rethink those meetings.
What signals do you think show you're wasting time? Share your comments below!