Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: You go into work, have 10 items on your to-do list, five hours go by, and you’ve only gotten three done. How is that possible? Where did the time go?

Well it’s possible that those tasks were really challenging and took more time than you initially planned. But more than likely, you lost that time doing seemingly-important tasks you didn’t think would take long.

Then bam – five hours have gone by.

The question then becomes what are those tasks that are taking up so much of our time? (Time-sucks, they’re often called.) We’ve outlined four, but more importantly, solutions for each:

1. Email

Ah yes, email. Such a great tool, but also such a BIG distraction. If you keep your email open, you likely see every time a new email comes in. And naturally, you’re tempted to check it. But beware: That will lead you down a rabbit hole of unproductivity (and I say this from experience). See, you think you can quickly respond to one or two emails – and perhaps you can. But those emails will keep coming in, and some may take longer to respond to than others. Before you know it, you’ve lost an hour and a half of time cumulatively, and what seemed like an innocent five minutes here and there turned into half your morning.

The solution: Close out of your email. Designate certain times to check it and don’t cheat during intervals. But what if an emergency comes up, you might be thinking. Let your staff members know if an emergency comes up to give you call – first and foremost. That way, you don’t have to worry about missing anything. (You’d be surprised at how many things aren’t actually urgent.)

2. Meetings

Meetings are often planned with the best of intentions. Yet so often, we walk away feeling like they were a waste of our time. Where’s the disconnect?

Well often, there’s more chatter than necessary. To prevent that from happening, be sure whoever’s hosting the meeting (whether it be you or someone else) creates a meeting agenda. That way, if the conversation starts to stray, you can quickly get back on topic. Another option: Consider having everyone stand during the meeting. This of course depends on how long your meeting is expected to last, but if it’s a fairly short meeting, having everyone stand will prevent them from getting too comfortable and discourage long, off-topic conversations.

3. Social media

How many times have you ever thought, “I’m just going to check Facebook really quick.” 10 minutes go by.

Yup, join the club. Social media is a real time-suck. That doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of it (taking breaks can actually be really good for your brain and overall productivity). Rather, pre-schedule time for it. Plan on checking it when you finish one or two (or three) tasks. Not only will it give you something to look forward to (kind of like a reward system), but it will prevent from your losing your train of thought while working on projects. (And once you’re in the zone, you want to stay in the zone – trust me.)

4. People pleasing

Last but not least, there’s people pleasing. Now this one may seem odd to you, but believe me, it’s a time-suck. You already have a lot on your plate, and while it’s fine (and good!) to help your coworkers out, you have to know your limits. You can only get so much done in a day, and if you agree to little things here and there for other people, you won’t get your tasks done – leaving you stressed and working late.

Now I don’t say this to discourage you from helping others. You most definitely should! “Teamwork makes the dream work.” But rather, just be cautious of how much “extra” you’re agreeing to. Even the tiniest tasks add up, and they could take away from your work/productivity.

If you’ve successfully tackled all of these and you STILL feel like you’re pressed for time, perhaps it’s time to consider an association management system. An AMS is an all-in-one solution designed to make membership management easier. It streamlines tasks and reduces administrative overhead, saving you time – and your sanity.

Want to know more about what an AMS is? Check out our free guide, What Is an AMS?, below!