If you’re anything like me, you walk around with a notebook or a planner. There are multiple time management apps on your phone, and you have more sticky notes on your desk than your space can handle. Yes, time is a precious resource that we can’t recreate. However, despite our efforts to become masters of our time, we’re still (myself included) making the same common time management mistakes – repeatedly.
1. Denying Your Time Management Problem
Striking-through most of your to-do list items doesn’t necessarily equal best time management practices. We often go through life, making excuses for our poor time management skills. Take your time to analyze yourself and make sure that you’re not ignoring glaring signs that might mean you’re a chronic procrastinator or that your time management needs some attention.
2. Letting the Urgent Stuff Take over the Important Stuff
Prioritizing tasks is harder than most people believe. Not everything in your timeline can be high-priority. Otherwise, nothing becomes high-priority. To help you differentiate, you can use the Eisenhower Matrix, where you prioritize your tasks based on this quadrant:
- Quadrant 1: To Do First – The most important things you must do today or tomorrow.
- Quadrant 2: Schedule – Important tasks that are not urgent, but you need to schedule on your calendar.
- Quadrant 3: Delegation – Essential items that are not important, and you can delegate them to someone else.
- Quadrant 4: Don’t Do – Tasks that are neither important or urgent, they can go into your “when I have time, I’d like to do this” list.
3. Switching Up Time Management Systems All the Time
I can’t tell you how many time management systems I’ve used, both personally and at work. If you’re constantly moving between methods, techniques, and time management apps, you’ll never find what genuinely works. We’re not alone in this. The average person uses 13 different time management methods.
Take some time and do some thorough research of the available options, pick the one that makes the most sense to you and stick with it for three months. If after that trial-period things don’t improve, find another one.
4. Not Taking Breaks
Between deadlines, “high-priority” projects, and the illusion that we need more time in our days, breaks are off the table. Well, if you think about it, non-stop work is absurd. No one’s brain can work at full capacity without rest. I noticed my productivity went up the moment I introduced 10-minute breaks in the middle of my workday. It was almost like hitting the reset button on my brain.
For the longest time, I was a strong supporter of multitasking. I genuinely believed multitasking was working for me. However, experts agree, multitasking is an illusion. Instead, trying something like the Pomodoro Timer technique might be a better way of tackling a long list of to-do items in a more efficient way.
6. Not Planning
Lastly, not planning. It seems so silly, but we’re all guilty of not doing this. Planners are not just for the always busy executive; we all need planning. Whether you plan your days hourly, or you plan your month, that’s your call. The idea is to have some structured plan when it comes to how you spend your hours to make sure you get the most out of your time.
Now that you are aware of these common time management mistakes. Join me in making sure we stop the vicious cycle and conquer our time management once and for all.