The Hidden Time Thief Strategies to Combat the ‘Again and Again’ Syndrome

In the whirlwind of daily tasks, it’s easy to fall into the trap of the ‘Again and Again’ syndrome, where seemingly minor actions like marking emails as unread or re-checking voicemails become major time sinks. This pattern of redundancy—revisiting the same tasks without progressing—significantly drains efficiency, turning simple tasks into time management nightmares.

Understanding the 'Again and Again' Syndrome

This syndrome typically manifests through routine behaviours that, while insignificant in isolation, cumulatively impede productivity:

  1. Repeatedly Reviewing Information: Many of us revisit emails or documents multiple times because we’re unsure how to respond or because we lack the necessary information to make a decision. Each review without action is a missed opportunity to move forward.
  2. Procrastination and Avoidance: Tasks often get shuffled back to the bottom of the pile due to uncertainty, a lack of immediate resources, or simple aversion. This not only delays completion but also increases the mental burden of having unfinished tasks looming over us.
  3. Interruptions and Distractions: An open-door policy or a chaotic work environment can fracture focus, leading to tasks being repeatedly shelved and revisited. Each interruption resets the progress, forcing a restart that saps time and energy.
  4. Partial Attention: When time is short, tasks receive only cursory attention and are likely to be revisited. This cycle of partial attention ensures that tasks are never truly completed, only extended.

Research suggests that these inefficiencies can cost upwards of 170 hours per year—equivalent to about 3.3 hours each week spent in redundant task management. This significant expenditure of time could otherwise be directed towards more productive and fulfilling activities.

Strategies to Overcome Redundancy

To break free from the ‘Again and Again’ syndrome, consider implementing the following strategies:

  • Immediate Action: Tackle each piece of information only once. Make a decision the first time you read an email or document. If action is required, do it immediately or schedule it definitively.
  • Clear Decision-Making: Develop a system for quick decision-making. This could involve setting clearer criteria for prioritisation or streamlining the process for gathering necessary information.
  • Reduce Interruptions: Establish boundaries to minimise disruptions. This might mean setting specific hours for open-door policies or using status indicators to inform colleagues of your availability.
  • Organize and Prioritize: Use tools and techniques to keep tasks organised. Prioritise tasks based on importance and deadline, ensuring that time is allocated appropriately and tasks are not left to linger.

The Personal and Professional Upside

Adopting these strategies not only enhances workplace productivity but also significantly enriches personal life. Imagine repurposing those 170 hours into activities that boost personal and professional growth—like learning new skills, pursuing hobbies, or spending quality time with family. Overcoming the ‘Again and Again’ syndrome enables you to leave work at work, ensuring that home time is rich and rejuvenating.


The ‘Again and Again’ syndrome is a formidable enemy of effective time management, but it’s not insurmountable. By understanding the underlying causes and implementing strategic changes, you can transform this pattern of inefficiency into a model of productivity. This shift not only promises better use of time but also a more balanced and fulfilling life. Break the cycle, embrace efficiency, and watch as your days transform from fragmented to formidable.

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