5 ultimate thieves of time

5 thieves of time

There is the only one scarce resource everyone has a fixed amount of – time. If persons time can be imagined like a money deposit in the bank, then bad news – it is getting robbed every day.

Symptoms of a time being stolen

To trigger your mind and start recognizing that you have been robbed, we offer to try and identify if one or more of the following symptoms can be spotted while you are at work.

– Chaotic task execution

– Missed deadlines

– Constantly changing priorities

– Increasing pile of unfinished work

– Blocked tasks and missing information

– You cannot remember what happened yesterday

Root cause

5 thieves of time (Influenced by the book “Making work visual“)

The best place to start is to clearly state who are the key offenders here. See below too memorize and recognize when you see the top 5 thieves of time

5 thieves of time

– Too much work in progress (WIP) – multitasking, interrupts, no deep work, bad switching

– The interrupts – events and people who distract you from work when it can be avoided (during planning and execution)

– Unplanned work – can be related to iceberg or shallow analysis

– Conflicting priorities – everything top priority means constructive stakeholder dialogue is not present

– Neglected work – shortcuts taken but not revisited are biting back

The solution

As in most cases there is no single cure for catching all 5 thieves of time. But the good news are that we know at least 3 aspects from which to work and create a system. A system which will create an unbeatable crime prevention force at your organization. We recommend implementing this system one aspect at a time or even one practice at a time – quality over quantity!

Tools – to catch them all

Make work visual (expose time thieves, maintain transparent work backlog)

– Document and standardize procedures

Retrospectives (documented)

– Task refinement

Task collaboration system

– Active and passive communication tools (mail, realtime chats, video conferencing)

– Prioritization meeting

Policies – to lock them all

– Tasks should not be described in emails or chats unless those are standard external work request ingestion channels

– Different communication channels based on urgency and importance

– All tasks are centralized in backlog, if task is not in backlog – it does not exist and cannot be expected to be completed

– Tasks must be described in such a way that they raise as less questions as possible and require minimal human to human communication

– Do not interrupt your colleagues if an answer can be given via passive communication

Culture – to prevent new kind of thieves

Asynchronous ways of communication are prioritized over synchronous

– Synchronous ways of communication are prioritized over asynchronous when clear benefit of efficiency is recognized

– Overcommunication via asynchronous manners

– Continuous improvement

Deep work


Not if but when you get all three aspects of the system implemented, you will start seeing our well memorized thieves less and less. If you need more arguments why it is worth the effort, here are some but most definitely not all:

– Ability to work remotely or in distributed environments with minimal impact to performance

– Ability to have workforce on different time zones with minimal impact to performance

– Increased generativity on team level

– Reduced stress levels for team members and stakeholders

– Predictable output

– Managed expectations

– Reduced dependencies among people

– Improved work-life balance

What is Teamhood?

Teamhood is a work collaboration platform for team task management and project management based on classic and Agile best practices. Modern features combined with time-proven Kanban system will work magic on your projects and team collaboration. Try Teamhood for free to see the benefits! If you want to read more about Teamhood features and how it can be used for your daily work refer to our features or solutions pages.

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