Are your days made up of a succession of children’s activities, household duties and whatever other people throw at you throughout the day? Does it seem there just aren’t enough hours in your day to get things done? Are you often late? Do you often feel in a rush and drained of your energy? Here are 8 common mistakes that make us waste time and that you may be making too if you’re experiencing those symptoms.
YOU DON’T ESTIMATE HOW LONG IT TAKES TO COMPLETE A TASK
Time being intangible, there’s often a big discrepancy between how long we think it takes to complete a task and how long it actually takes. As a result, our schedules often end up being packed with more than what we can handle in one day, leading to feelings of overwhelm and frustration.
THE SOLUTION: Add a time estimate for each of the tasks you put on your to-do list so you can create days with a realistic workload. Learn how to come up with a realistic time estimate in this article.
YOU SAY YES TO EVERYTHING
You assume that everything you put on our to-do list must be done, immediately, perfectly and by yourself. But time is finite, so we need to learn to make choices on how we use it.
THE SOLUTION: Use a framework like the 4D’s [Delete, Delay, Diminish and Delegate] to streamline your workload
YOU CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT TO DO
You assume you have an excellent memory and don’t bother to write your meetings, appointments or tasks down. As a result, you clutter your brain with information and often can’t find sleep at night because you go through in your mind what you have to do the next day. And you end up missing an important event or forgetting about a critical task.
THE SOLUTION: Trust your life with a planner! You won’t waste time thinking about what you have to do, you’ll just do it. Read how to select the right planner for you.
YOU EXECUTE YOUR TASKS RANDOMLY
You don’t plan your tasks, and as a result, waste time deciding what you’re going to be doing next or procrastinating on things you don’t enjoy doing. If you plan, you don’t necessarily take into consideration your energy and concentration levels. When the unexpected happens, your schedule is completely thrown off.
THE SOLUTION: I’m sure you’re familiar with the organising concept “A home for everything”. Well this concept applies to your schedule too. You need to allocate a specific timeslot in your schedule for every activity that is important to you, whether it’s driven by a professional target or a personal aspiration. Learn how to create a weekly schedule here.
YOU THINK MULTI-TASKING SAVE YOU TIME
Well, it doesn’t. Studies have shown that it takes your brain four times longer to recognise and process each thing, when switching back and forth between tasks.
THE SOLUTION: Embrace single and batch-tasking (group of similar tasks) so you can be totally immersed in what you do, and as a result, be more efficient at it.
YOU CAN’T RESIST THE CALL FROM YOUR PHONE
You feel compelled to check your phone, or emails, as soon as you see or hear a notification. Not only you can easily become side-tracked and waste time on things completely irrelevant to what you’re trying to achieve, but studies have also shown that every time you interrupt what you were doing, your brain needs 25 minutes to return to the original task. Imagine the impact on your productivity!
THE SOLUTION: Build new habits to break your addiction. Read the few measures I have personally taken to resist the temptation.
YOU’RE A PERFECTIONIST
You spend countless hours working at improving a project you’ve theoretically completed, undertaking tasks that don’t necessarily add more value to it. You do things that could be delegated to others but either you don’t trust them to do them as well as you would or they’re unwilling to help you because they know you’re very difficult to please.
THE SOLUTION: Let’s face it, if you’ve been a perfectionist all your life, it’s unlikely you’ll completely change. Embrace selective perfectionism instead! Here are a few strategies you can use.
YOU TEND TO PROCRASTINATE
Well, who doesn’t really? I certainly do in some areas of my life. You know what you need to do but you can’t bring yourself to do it. You waste time and energy in the process. It makes you miss important deadlines that may result in costly penalties. It makes you feel guilty for not doing what you’re supposed to be doing.
THE SOLUTION: I find that, beyond practical time management strategies, understanding why we procrastinate – whether it is due to a lack of skills, to the fear of failing, or even succeeding (yes, there is such a thing) etc – can be the most powerful thing to curb this habit.
Which one of these mistakes are you making? If you still feel stuck despite all the tips provided above, check my one-on-one time management coaching programme. I’ll help regain control over your schedule and live the life you aspire to and deserve to live.