How effective are you at managing your time?
If you’re like most individuals, your response may not be entirely what you would like it to be! Perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed and frequently have to work late to meet deadlines. Or maybe your days appear to pass from crisis to crisis, which is both exhausting and discouraging. At North Star Consultants, one of our favorite time management sayings is just because you’re doing a lot, doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot done!
Many of us are aware that we could be managing our time more effectively; yet, identifying the errors, we are making and determining how to improve can be challenging. When we manage our time effectively, on the other hand, we are extremely productive at work, and our stress levels decrease. We can spend time on exciting, high-reward projects that have the potential to advance a career significantly.
In a nutshell, we are happier!
In this post, our team at North Star Consultants examines ten of the most prevalent time management errors, as well as techniques and recommendations for overcoming them.
Failing to Keep a To-Do List or better a Priority List
Do you ever get the nagging feeling that you’ve overlooked a crucial task? If this is the case, you are probably not using a To-Do List to stay organized. (Or, if you do, you may be wasting it!)
The key to efficiently using To-Do Lists is prioritizing the activities on your list. Numerous individuals employ an A–F coding system
(A for high priority items, F for very low priorities). Alternatively, you can simplify this by utilizing the letters A through D or numerals.
If you have vast tasks on your list, these entries can be unclear and ineffectual unless you exercise caution. For instance, you might have scribbled “Begin budget proposal.” However, what does this imply? The lack of specifics in this section may induce you to postpone or overlook critical procedures. Therefore, ensure that you break down enormous jobs or projects into clear, actionable actions — this way, you won’t miss anything vital.
Additionally, you can use Action Programs to manage your work when you have many concurrent projects. (Action Programs are specialized forms of To-Do Lists.) We implement these through the use of Monday.com with our clients to great use.
Not Setting Personal Goals
Do you have an idea of where you want to go in six months? What about a year from now, or perhaps ten years from now? If not, it’s time to establish some personal objectives!
Personal goal setting is critical for effective time management, as objectives provide you with a direction and vision to work toward.
You can manage your priorities, time, and resources accordingly when you have a clear destination in mind. Additionally, goals assist you in determining what is worthwhile spending your time on and what is a distraction.
Your assistant has just entered the office with an issue that requires immediate attention, but you are brainstorming ideas for a new customer. You’re confident that you’ve nearly come up with a wonderful idea for their marketing campaign, but now you risk losing your train of thought due to this “emergency.”
Occasionally, it’s difficult to determine how to prioritize, especially when confronted with an onslaught of seemingly important chores. However, if you want to manage your time more successfully, it’s critical to learn how to prioritize activities effectively.
Failing to Manage Distractions
Are you aware that some of us can waste up to two hours per day on distractions? Consider how much more you could do if you had that time back!
Distractions, whether from emails, instant messaging, colleagues in crisis, or client phone calls, keep us from reaching flow, which is the pleasurable and seemingly simple work that we produce when we are fully involved in a task.
If you want to regain control of your day and produce your best work, it’s critical to understand how to manage distractions and interruptions successfully. For instance, switch off your instant messaging chat when you need to concentrate and notify others if they are distracting you excessively. Additionally, it would help if you understood how to increase your concentration, especially when confronted with distractions.
Procrastination occurs when you put off chores that need to be completed immediately. When you procrastinate, you feel guilty for not starting; you develop a fear of completing the assignment; and, eventually, everything comes back to haunt you when you fail to do the work on time.
For example, one effective method is to tell yourself that you’re just going to spend ten minutes on a job. Often, procrastinators believe they must do a task completely, which causes them to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Rather than that, concentrate on dedicating a short amount of time to getting started. That is it!
Taking on Too Much
Are you someone who has difficulty saying “NO” to others? If this is the case, you are probably overburdened with projects and commitments. This can result in decreased performance, stress, and morale.
Alternatively, you could be a micromanager: someone who is adamant about controlling or performing all of the work oneself because they lack confidence in others to do it well. (This is a problem that affects everyone, not just managers!)
In either case, taking on too much is a waste of time and might earn you a reputation for hurried, shoddy work.
To avoid this, master the art of saying “YES” to the individual while saying “NO” to the assignment. This ability enables you to establish yourself while still fostering positive relationships within the group. If the other person begins to rely on you to answer “YES” to their request, develop the ability to think quickly on your feet and maintain your composure under pressure.
Thriving on “Busy”
Being busy provides a buzz for some people. The pressing deadlines, the never-ending emails, the stacks of unopened files on the desk, the frantic dash to the meeting… What a rush of adrenaline!
The issue is that an “addiction to busyness” rarely indicates effectiveness and can result in stress.
Rather than that, attempt to slow down and improve your time management skills. Certainly, we can refer back to our team at North Star Consultants’ favorite saying “Just because you’re doing a lot doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot done”.
Mary often writes emails while on the phone with her clients to stay on top of her duties. While Mary believes that multitasking is a beneficial use of her time, the reality is that it can take up to 20%-40% longer to complete a list of chores compared to achieving the same list of things sequentially. As a result, she performs both tasks poorly – her emails are riddled with typos, and her clients are irritated by her inability to concentrate.
Thus, the best course of action is to abandon multitasking and instead concentrate on a single task at a time. This will result in higher-quality work.
Not Taking Breaks
It’s comforting to believe that you can work for eight to ten hours straight, especially when you’re on a deadline. However, no one can focus and produce truly high-quality work without allowing their brains to rest and recharge.
Therefore, refrain from dismissing breaks as a “waste of time.” They provide necessary downtime that enables you to think creatively and efficiently.
Suppose stopping work is difficult for you, schedule breaks, or set the alarm as a reminder. Take a little walk, grab a cup of coffee, or sit at your computer and meditate. Make a conscious effort to take a five-minute break every hour or two. Additionally, allow extra time for lunch — you will not do high-quality work if you are hungry!
Ineffectively Scheduling Tasks
Are you an early riser? Or do you notice that your energy levels increase as the sun sets in the evening? Each of us has our rhythm, a time of day when we feel most productive and energized.
You may optimize your time management by scheduling high-value work during your peak hours and low-energy activity (such as returning phone calls and checking email) during your “down” hours.
Recognizing and correcting time management errors is one of the most effective strategies to increase productivity.
When you make an effort to correct these errors, you will notice a significant increase in your productivity — and you will also be happier and less stressed!