Find Your Voice

10 Common Time Management Mistakes

How well do you manage your time? If you’re like many people, your answer may not be completely positive. Perhaps you feel overloaded, and you often have to work late to hit your deadlines. Or maybe your days seem to go from one crisis to another, and this is stressful and demoralizing.

Many of us know that we could be managing our time more effectively, but it can be difficult to identify the mistakes that we’re making and to know how we could improve. When we do manage our time well, however, we’re exceptionally productive at work and our stress levels drop. We can devote time to interesting high-reward projects that can make a real difference to our career. In short, we’re happier.

Maybe you can relate to this story – Imagine there is a bank that credits your account with $86,400 each morning, carries over no balance from day to day allows you to keep no cash balance and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day.

What would you do???????????????????????????????

Draw out every cent right.

Well everybody has such a bank, and its name is called time.

Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes it off, as a loss of whatever you have failed to invest to a good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the record of the day, if you fail to use the day’s deposits the loss is yours.
There is no going back. There is no drawing against tomorrow.

Therefore there is not enough time or too much time. Time management is decided by us alone and nobody else. It is never the case for us not having enough time to do things, but the case of whether we want to do it and this leads me to the ten most common mistakes of time management.

Mistake #1 Failing to keep a To-Do List

Do you ever have that nagging feeling that you have forgotten to do an important piece of work? If so you probably don’t use a To-Do-List to keep on top of things. (Or if you do you might not be using it effectively). The trick with using To-Do-Lists effectively lies in prioritizing the task on your list. Many people use an A-F coding system (A for high priority items, F for very low priorities). Alternatively, you can simply use numbers.

If you have large projects on your list, then unless you are careful the entries for these can be vague and ineffective. So make sure that break large task or projects down into specifics, actional steps – then you won’t overlook something important or procrastinate.

Mistake #2 Not Setting Personal Goals

Do you know where you would like to be in six months? What about this time next year or even ten years from now? If not it’s time to set some personal goals!

Personal goal setting is essential to managing your time well because goals give you a destination and vision to work toward. When you know where you want to go, you can manage your priorities, time and resources to get there. Goals also help you decide what is worth spending your time on, and what’s just a distraction. Many of us may use the SMART objectives in goal setting to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable Relevant and Time-bound.

Mistake # 3 Not Prioritizing

Your assistant has just walked in with a crisis, sound familiar. There is a crisis that she needs you to deal with right now, but you’re right in the middle of brainstorming ideas for a new client. You’re sure that you have almost come up with a brilliant idea for their marketing campaign, but now you risk losing the thread of your thinking because of the crisis. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to prioritize especially when you’re facing a flood of seemingly urgent tasks. However, it’s essential to learn how to prioritize tasks effectively if you want to manage your time better. It will help if you’re able to determine if a task is a high yield and high priority or low-value fill-in work. This will allow you to manage your time and tasks during the day and be productive.

Mistake #4 Failing to Manage Distractions

Do you know that some of us can lose as much as two hours a day to distractions? Think how much you could get done if you had that time back!
Whether they come from emails, Facebook, colleagues in a pickle or phone calls, distractions prevent us from continuity and achieving flow which is satisfying and seemingly effortless work that we do when we’re 100 % engaged in the task.
If you want to gain control of your day and do your best work, it’s vital to know how to minimize distractions and manage interruptions effectively. For instance, resist the urge to check your social media feeds when you need to focus and let people know if they’re distracting you too often. You should also learn how to improve your concentration even when you’re faced with distractions.

Mistake # 5 Procrastination

Procrastination occurs when you put off tasks that you should be focusing on right now. When you procrastinate, eventually, everything catches up with you and you fail to complete tasks on time.
Often procrastinators feel that they have to complete a task from start to finish and this high expectation makes them feel overwhelmed and anxious. Instead, focus on devoting a small amount of time to tasks. You might also find it helpful to use Action Plans. These help you break large projects down into manageable steps so that it’s easier to see everything that needs to get done and so that you can complete small chunks at a time, Doing this can stop you from feeling overwhelmed at the start of a new project.

Mistake # 6 Taking on Too Much

Are you a person who has a hard time saying no to people? If so you probably have far too many projects and commitments on your plate. This can lead to poor performance, stress and low morale. Or you might be a micromanager who insists on controlling or doing all of the work yourself because you can’t trust anyone else to do it correctly. (This can be a problem for everyone – not just you as a micromanager!)
Either way, taking on too much is a poor use of time, and it can get you a reputation for producing rushed sloppy work.

To stop this learn the subtle art of saying yes to the person but no to the task. This skill helps you assert yourself while still maintaining good feelings within the group. If the other person starts leaning on you to say yes to their request learn how to think on your feet and stay cool under pressure.

Mistake # 7 Thriving on Busy

Some people get a rush from being busy. The narrowly met deadlines have endless emails and piles of files needing attention on the desk and franticly race to meetings. What an adrenaline buzz! The problem is that an addiction to busyness rarely means that you’re effective and can lead to stress and burn-out. Instead, try to slow down and learn to manage your time better.

Mistake # 8 Multitasking

To get on top of her workload, Linda regularly writes emails while she talks on the phone to her clients. However, while Linda thinks that this is a good use of her time the truth is that it can take 20-40 % more time to finish a list of jobs when you multitask compared with completing the same list of tasks in sequence. The result is also that she does both tasks poorly her emails are full of errors, and her clients are frustrated by her lack of concentration. So the best thing is to forget about multitasking and instead focus on one task at a time. That way you’ll produce higher quality work.

Mistake # 9 Not Taking Breaks

It’s nice to think that you can work for 8-10 hours straight especially when you’re working to a deadline. But it’s impossible for anyone to focus and produce high-quality work without giving their brains some time to rest and recharge. So don’t dismiss breaks as wasting time. They provide valuable downtime which will enable you to think creatively and work effectively.

Mistake # 10 Ineffectively Scheduling Tasks

Are you an early morning person? Or do you find your energy picking up once the sun begins to rise in the evening? All of us have different rhythms that are different times of day when we feel most productive and energetic.
You can make the best use of your time by scheduling high-value work during your peak time and low energy work like returning phone calls and checking emails during your downtime.

What will you do with your 86,400 seconds credited to your account every day? Will you draw it all out and use it wisely or will your account be burnt out a nights end with valuable credits remaining? This list is certainly not an exhaustive list, but hopefully, the ten most common mistakes will shed some light on being more productive, efficient and be time management effective. Time management is decided by us alone and nobody else. How will you fare in your effort to be time-efficient?

Regards, Scott
Scott Johnston
Building Bridges to Your Success
Public Speaker Coach, Educator and Speaker