Of all the challenges we hear managers facing these days, the aspect of being able to manage their own time is very often top of the list.
It’s not because we have less time; it’s that the demands on us these days are so great, we have difficulty in identifying the best use of our time, and often submit to the ‘busy’ rather than the ‘effective’.
We often get asked, ‘what are the causes of poor time management?’ Also, ‘what mistakes do people make when it comes to time management?’
Of course, the best way to determine where your time is going is to record what’s happening each day. If you find some of these problems are affecting the day-to-day management of your time, think of what could be done to overcome them.
That way, you will make less time management mistakes and improve poor time management issues.
Here are some suggestions:
Work Piling Up – You need to set priorities and determine the difference between urgent and important. How many times have you gone home from work and realised you’ve been really busy, but not actually accomplished very much? That shows you’ve been working on the urgent at the expense of the important. Set yourself realistic deadlines and see if you can keep to and delegate more often! Poor time management often occurs because you’re trying to do too much in the little time you have available.
Trying to do too much – As stated before, you must set priorities. If it’s impossible to get everything done, ask which deadlines could be changed. Learn to say no, because if you take on more work, everything else will suffer, especially your stress levels. Time management mistakes often occur when we are overstressed or overwhelmed with things.
Procrastination – Break tasks down into manageable chunks. Approach it from a different angle. If the task will take 3 hours, do 20 minutes now, 30 minutes later, and so on. You need to control it, rather than it controlling you. Poor time management can be overcome by seeing projects in chunks rather than all at once.
People interrupting you – Make appointments and ask people to stick to them. If people just drop in, tell them you will get back to them when you can give them 100% attention. This will help you overcome any poor time management tendencies you may have.
Phone calls interrupting you – Tell them you will call them back. Use voicemail, if practical. Batch phone calls you need to make all together, so you control the timings.
Too many emails – Divide them into ‘act now, act later’. Have a special file to put the emails you will be dealing with later. Don’t let your inbox pile up, and try not to use it as your ‘pending’ file. Things will drop out of your view and you will forget them. Create rules for emails coming in. Try not to keep your email server open all the time; emails will rule your time. Devote specific times of the day that you control to deal with emails. Poor time management is often the result of poor email management.
Too many meetings – Ah, the bugbear of many managers! Review all the meetings you attend and eliminate any that are unnecessary. Set limits to the time meetings take and stick to them. Have an agenda and stick to it. Be prepared for each meeting and identify how you can add value to them. Meetings can often be the main reason for poor time management, so be prepared to postpone a meeting if you have to, to accomplish items of greater importance.
Naturally, there are many other time management situations you will have to deal with, but if you have the correct mindset to how you view time, you will concentrate on the solutions rather than the problems lack of time causes you, and you will experience fewer time management mistakes and achieve greater results.
Take a look at our course for deeper dive into time management.
Originally published: 8 May, 2019
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