Time management is a skill we need in life and work, and “if you often find yourself run down by your daily workload or overwhelmed by the complexity of projects and tasks in your life, it is likely because you have not fully mastered effective time management,” suggests Matt Mayberry, Maximum Performance Strategist.
When it comes to work, your lack of time management can be a significant issue, leading to overdue projects, piled up work, and missed deadlines. Avoid the following eight things that are eroding your time management skills so you can eliminate the causes and be the best version of you in the workplace. If you’re trying to move forward in your career or make a good impression at a new job, the time to identify these issues is now.
Being a Yes Person
When you forget how to say “no” to projects and tasks, it’s easy to drown in your work and lose all sense of time management. With too many due dates to manage, it becomes impossible to find focus, which is critical to time management. Not to mention, by saying yes to everything, you lose the ability to work on things you care about: “By saying no, you are giving yourself the ability and bandwidth to say yes to the things that are more important,” says Craig Jarrow of Time Management Ninja.
Lack of Organization
Clutter leads to a whole host of psychological issues that take a toll on time management. Psychology Today suggests a few ways that lack of organization can be a deterrent:
- Draws attention away from where our focus should be.
- Signals to the brain that the work is never done.
- Inhibits creativity and productivity.
Clutter and lack of organization holds your mind hostage. Rather than prioritizing what needs to get done, you’re trying to fend off mental fatigue, stress and anxiety, making time management nearly impossible.
Forgetting to Take Breaks
Brain breaks are one the best ways to manage your time. When you become burnt out on a project, your productivity slows drastically, you lose interest in what you’re doing, and before you know it, you’ve wasted 20 minutes staring at the screen wishing you weren’t at work.
Brain breaks help you avoid this issue and have been proven to improve productivity by 34 percent, according to Unplug After Hours and Increase Productivity. This allows you to better manage your time and be more effective.
When you’re perpetually running behind schedule, it’s impossible to manage your time effectively. When you’re late to work most days of the week, or slow to start on a project, your first thought isn’t managing your time, it’s more like: How quickly can I get this done because I’m already so behind?
No Well-Defined Goals
Goals provide structure to your work every by giving you a prioritized list of things to get done: “Your goals help you to identify your priorities. They outline what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it by and the importance of the task,” according to 11 Symptoms of Poor Time Management.
The author continues, “Goals are an essential way to reduce your workload and reduce your poor time management. Not only do you become clearer about what you want; you become more certain about the tasks and projects which are not a good use of your time.”
No To-Do List
Similar to a lack of defined goals, without a to-do list, it’s hard to structure your day. The key to time management is being able to prioritize tasks and a to-do list is the best way to do that, ensuring you get everything done. If you do have a to-do list, but still struggle with time management, your list may be too minimal or basic. When you add times and specifics for each item, you’ll be more successful. For example:
- Write new product proposal for Client A – 1 hour
- Edit North West regional sales deck for Sarah – 30 minutes
- Call with new contractor for the Dudley Project – 2 hours
With these details included, you know exactly what you’re doing and the timeframe for each task, which helps you stay on track.
When everything needs to be just right, you tend to lose control of your time because you focus so much on one project or task that you ignore the others. While it’s important to produce work that you’re proud of, letting go of small issues that can be fixed later or ignored altogether allows you to make time for all the other items on your to-do list.
Failure to Manage Distractions
Everywhere you look there’s a distraction or time-sucker: on your computer (hello, Facebook), in the kitchen (quick chats turn into 20 minute conversations) and in meetings (which seem to go on forever).
With distractions and interruptions, it’s hard to get into your workday effectively: “Distractions prevent us from achieving flow, which is the satisfying and seemingly effortless work that we do when we're 100 percent engaged in a task,” explain experts at MindTools.
Are any of these a regular issue for you in the workplace? Identify what’s stopping you from being good about time management and then eliminate the cause so you can focus on getting more done effectively and efficiently.