Have you ever wondered how some people are able to get so much more done than the rest of us, when we all have the same amount of time? The secret is time management. In this blog post, I'll outline some of the most common time management mistakes and provide some tips for avoiding these pitfalls. You can download the full list, as well as access other resources, from the Sillfluence On-line Resource Library.
1. Failing to keep a to-do list: Do you ever have that nagging feeling that you've forgotten to do an important piece of work? If so, you probably don't use a to-do list. The trick with using to-do lists effectively is to prioritize the tasks and be specific about the tasks.
2. Not setting personal goals: Do you know where you'd like to be in 6 months? What about 1 year? 10 years? Personal goal setting is essential to managing your time because goals give you a destination and a vision to work towards. Goals can help you prioritise your activity, helping you avoid distractions (i.e. wasting time!)
3. Not prioritising: Sometimes it's hard to know how to prioritise, especially when facing a flood of "urgent" tasks. It's essential to learn how to prioritise tasks effectively if you want ot manage time better. One tool to help is the action priority matrix, which helps determine if a task is high-yield and high priority or low value.
4. Failing to Manage Distractions: Some of us lose as much as 2 hours/day to distractions. Whether from e-mails, social media, colleagues with a crisis or phone calls, distractions prevent us from achieving flow, which is when we're most productive. Try turning off your phone or IM chat or put a "do not disturb sign on your office door.
5. Procrastination: One strategy to beat procrastination is to tell yourself that you're only going to work on a project for 10 minutes. Often procrastinators feel they have to complete a task from start to finish. This high expectation makes them feel overwhelmed. Try focusing on devoting a small amount of time to starting.
6. Taking on too much: Are you a person who has a hard time saying "no"? If so, you probably have too many commitments on your plate. This can lead to poor performance, stress and low morale. Learn the subtle art of saying "yes" to person, but saying "no" to task.
7. Thriving on "busy": Some people get a rush from being busy. They love stacks of work, tight deadlines and endless e-mails. The problem is that "addiction to busyness" rarely means you're effective. Try slowing down and focus more on doing work that really matters as opposed to "busy work".
8. Multi-tasking: It can take 20-40% more time to finish a list of jobs when you multi-task, compared to completing the same tasks in sequence. Additionally, the quality of work usually suffers. The best thing to do is forget about multi-tasking and instead focus on one task at a time.
9. Not taking breaks: It's impossible for anyone to focus and produce high quality work without giving their brains some time to rest and recharge. Breaks are valuable downtime and allow you to get more done when you're working an will produce higher quality work.
10. Ineffectively scheduling tasks: Are you a morning person or a night owl? All of us have different rhythms and are most productive at different times of the day. Schedule high value work during your peak time, and low-energy work during your "down" time.
If you commonly fall victim to these traps, pick one to work on over the next couple weeks. Whatever you do, don't try to "fix" all of them at once. If you're a habitual multi-tasking, start there or if you don't take breaks, make a concerted effort to take more breaks. Start small, build momentum.
You can access other useful resources from our On-line Resource Library.