You got up early, dressed well and reached your office. You were just about to start your first task of the day. Man, your phone was ringing. Wow! It was one of your old friends calling after several years. You picked the call and had a wonderful conversation until the call ended. Yup! You got a chance to talk with your lovely friend after a long time. Good thing, isn’t it? Now, you looked at the clock and realized that you lost 2 hours on phone. Oops!
Many of us have been in a situation like above despite being a good business leader or manager. People say “time is money” and they are right! However, we do make a lot of mistakes when it comes to managing time. In this article, let’s discuss about the 15 fatal time management mistakes and how you can avoid them.
#1. Not creating/following a To-Do list
Have you ever been in a situation that you forgot to do an important task? If you’re a person who is not interested in a To-Do list, you might have gone through the above scenario at least once in your life. One of the main time management mistakes most leaders make is not creating/following a To-Do list.
Solution: Plan ahead about your day-to-day tasks and always prepare a To-Do list. Your job is not finished after creating it. You should follow it properly.
#2. Failure to prioritize important tasks
We all have priorities and preferences in our personal life. How about priorities in your professional life? Many business leaders and managers make this mistake of not prioritizing important tasks. Well, you might have different tasks that require the same level of attention, so setting up priorities will become difficult.
Solution: Have a look at your To-Do list and create a To-Do first list from it. From all the tasks you’ve, which one should be completed first?
#3. No goal setting
Do you know what will you be doing this time next year? How about after 5 years? Many of you’re not sure about this. Sadly, it’s your fault! You’re not setting yourself proper goals. Doing things without setting goals is like a balloon that is flying in the air.
Solution: Set yourself certain personal goals – both long-term and short-term goals. A long-term goal can be something you want to achieve in the next 5-10 years, and a short-term goal can be something you want to achieve within a year. Then, plan your everyday tasks based on your goals.
#4. Failure to control time-wasting distractions
Even if you get everything right, there may be several distractions that waste a good amount of your time. Emails, Instant messengers, Phone calls and Social media platforms are the main cause of distraction. Although, these channels help communication easier, they can take your productive time away if don’t control them.
Solution: Turn off your cell phone and Instant messengers at least when you’re dealing with important tasks. Check emails and social media only during your free time, so that it won’t hinder your work.
Procrastination simply means delaying or postponing the tasks that you’re supposed to do right now. This usually happens when we think we have enough time left to complete the tasks. Procrastination is one of the main time management mistakes made by everyone in this world! Seriously, it can get you into trouble.
Solution: Allow yourself a small amount of time to get started. Once you become more interested in the task, you can get going. Another tip is splitting the whole task in to a series of smaller milestones, so you don’t need to think about the task in whole.
#6. Not learning to say “no”
You probably take a lot of projects that you can’t actually manage. This usually happens with people who always say “yes” to everything that they come across. Taking on too many projects at a time increases your chances of failure rather than success.
Solution: Just relax and ask yourself this question. Am I taking too much compared to what I can really handle? Learn to say “no” to the tasks that you can’t manage right now. If that’s an unavoidable task or one from your favorite client, let him know that you’ll be able to do it but on a later time.
Nowadays, multitasking is a common phenomenon in our workplace. People deal with different tasks simultaneously to avoid wastage of time. However, this can turn out to be a serious cause for poor quality work. You wouldn’t believe, but multitasking can take at least 20% more time compared to completing the same tasks in sequence.
Solution: Focus on one task at a time, so you can make sure that you’re completing every task with high quality. If possible, set a time limit for each task and give your full concentration on it. Finally, you’ll be able to complete every task with perfection.
#8. Being busy versus being effective
You’re busy, I’m busy and everyone is busy. Are we busy in dealing with our primary tasks or secondary tasks? There is a huge difference between being busy and being effective. By keeping yourself busy with secondary or low priority tasks, you’re neglecting the primary or high priority tasks. Being effective simply means that you’re spending more time to work on your primary tasks.
Solution: Give significance to your primary tasks. Allocate 80% of your time for doing the high priority tasks. Then, use the remaining 20% of your time for managing the low priority tasks.
#9. Skipping on breaks
While striving for completion of projects, many business leaders forget to take mandatory breaks. Some people consider taking a break is wastage of time. Whatever the case is, skipping on breaks never help you produce high quality work consistently. Your brain requires enough rest to help you achieve the results you want.
Solution: Remember, having a break is good for your body and mind because it allows you to refresh and recharge. Take a short break no matter what situation you’re in. Why don’t you have a coffee, go for a quick walk, or simply listen to your favorite song for a while?
#10. Trying to be a perfectionist
It is a good idea to produce perfect work! However, it isn’t always possible and many individuals don’t realize this fact. Trying to be a perfectionist in each single task can cost most of your time. In the end, you’ll have a long list of unfinished projects.
Solution: Set a deadline for every task! Remember, you can’t be a perfectionist in everything you do. Although you can strive for perfection when dealing with the most important tasks, you should be a bit smarter with non-essential tasks that don’t need to be perfect.
#11. Doing it all yourself
Do you think others can’t deliver the task according to your standards? Or do you want to credit yourself for doing it all? See, this is a common issue of most of us. We want to do every task ourselves, and the result? Wastage of time and incompletion of projects!
Solution: You must master the art of delegation of tasks. Why do you do it all yourself when you have many employees or colleagues to help you? Trust your employees and give them a chance to produce what you really want.
#12. Ineffectiveness in scheduling tasks
The most productive time varies from day to day and person to person. Some people love to work in the morning, where as some love to work in the evening. Many business leaders make this mistake of ineffectively scheduling tasks without realizing their capabilities.
Solution: Understand when is your most productive or energetic time, and schedule the top-priority tasks at that time. This will not only save time, but will also give you high quality output.
#13. Underestimating time-consuming tasks
Sometimes, you might overestimate your ability to finish things faster and underestimate the tasks that require more time. If you go with this mindset, you’ll be under pressure especially when you realize that several tasks can’t be completed within your time frame.
Solution: Never underestimate any tasks. When you prepare a To-Do list, write the time required to complete each task. Also, give some extra time for the tasks, so you’ll still be safe even if things don’t go well according to your plans.
#14. Too late to start
It is okay to sleep 6-8 hours a day, but think twice if you sleep beyond that time limit. Imagine what difference an extra one or two hours can make in your work schedule? When you start doing your tasks too late, you’d probably end up with time trouble.
Solution: Start your day early, so you can have more active hours for dealing with tasks that require high level of concentration. Alternatively, you can find some time at night if you’re not a morning person.
#15. Not tracking your time properly
Most individuals enjoy what they are doing, however they typically don’t look at the clock at all. If you don’t keep an eye on your clock, you’d probably miss your timings. This is one of the nasty mistakes most business owners and managers make.
Solution: Track your time properly. Set an alarm for each 25-30 minutes and see how it goes. You can also use certain time tracking applications.
You can never replace time with anything else! Respect your time, don’t waste it. The more you manage your time better, the more successful you will be.