Working Late Again? 5 Mistakes You (And Your Boss) Are Probably Guilty Of Committing

Jeff Cuellar



Ever go into the office in the morning expecting to clear all of your work for the day so that you could leave on time for once? Well, we all know how that turns out.

You go in, Murphy’s Law goes into effect, and 12+ hours later, you’re sitting in an MRT train looking as shell-shocked as a guy who just came back from a combat tour in Afghanistan.

Lack of productivity is a huge cause of late nights. So whose fault is it? Well, if you think hard about that question for a minute or two, you’ll find the answer. But if you can’t, just keep on reading!

Here are 5 workplace productivity killers that keep us working well into the night:



Be honest. When you first wake up in the morning, the first thing you reach for is your phone – so you can check Facebook. It’s alright to admit it.

Chances are that you also use Facebook on the train or bus to work too. Again, it’s no big deal, everyone does it. (You should be reading us on Facebook too!)

But unless you just happen to work at Facebook or your job requires you to monitor a company’s Facebook page – checking your account every 10 minutes probably isn’t doing wonders for your productivity.

You already have enough workplace distractions/interruptions to deal with as it is without adding Facebook to the mix.

Advice – try moving to MySpace, you’ll spend less time on social media that way.


2. Taking Lengthy Smoke Breaks

Before you crucify me for saying that smoke breaks kill productivity, let me clarify by saying that “normal” smoke breaks are fine.

I think that a 10-minute smoke break is helpful. Seriously, smoking a tobacco-filled stick of menthol goodness has a calming effect that helps you focus on the work at hand. It’s a stress killer, not a productivity killer.

Unless you’re taking 20 to 30 minute smoke breaks every two hours. That’s one to two hours every day you’re wasting!

Advice – buy an e-cigarette to “smoke” at your desk or go cold turkey like I did.


3. Holding Unnecessary Company Meetings

Company meetings can be a great way to come up with solutions to a productivity and profitability problems. My company has 15-minute “daily huddle” sessions. Why? So that each of us knows what work was done the day before and what work needs to be done that day.

The irony is that company meetings can also be a huge productivity killer, especially if your company has frequent and lengthy gatherings.

The reality is that holding unnecessarily long meetings about “work”  isn’t actually work.

If you find yourself constantly spending half the day in meetings before you can get any real “work” done, you know that you’re in for a long night.

Advice – hold a productivity meeting with your boss just to say that meetings kill productivity.


4. Responding to Endless Emails

Many days, I’m about as fearful of opening my email inbox as Brad Pitt was of opening “the box” in the movie Seven.

The worst part about it is that I know I have to open my inbox regardless to deal with the countless emails I have to respond to.

Oh, and the countless marketing “spam” emails I need to delete from my inbox as well (that’s the danger of putting your work email for all to see).

The sad thing is that I know people who have it much worse – I’m talking 300-500 emails a day. And they spend 20% of their workday or more just managing their inbox.

Advice – clean out your inbox everyday, keep your emails short, and set up “blocks” of time when you just focus on work, not emails.


5. Being Poorly Organized

For some, work is a day-to-day affair with no structure, timeline, or to-do list. That approach to work might work fine… if you’re a lottery winner who works part-time at 7-Eleven and plays Warcraft all day.

Yes, being disorganized is probably the biggest productivity killer out there.

Think you’re pretty well organized?

Take a look at your desk. Is it immaculate without a hint of clutter? Or does it look like a disaster area? What about your work projects – can you find or remember the last project you did last week?

If your desk looks like Baghdad after an air strike and you can’t even remember what projects you worked on, you’re very poorly organized. That’s a huge productivity killer.

Advice – clean up your messy desk, buy post-it pads, and list out what you need to do each day and when it needs to be finished by on a post-it every day. It’s a start.


What time management techniques do you use? Share your expertise with us here!  


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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.