Could you be managing your time a little more effectively?
Do you frequently wish you accomplished more at the end of your workday?
There are so many hours in the day, right?
How can you possibly squeeze more work out of an eight hour day?
With demands high, the pressure is on to produce at alarmingly high rates.
So how can you keep up?
By avoiding these common time management mistakes, and keeping yourself on an efficient working path.
10 most common time management mistakes
- No to-do list. If you don’t keep a to-do list, it can be hard to understand what needs to be accomplished that day, which makes it easy for distractions to eek their way into your day. Whether they come from other team members needing help, or phone calls and emails, or even social media and the internet, distractions are a productivity killer. And not keeping a to-do list is like an invitation to distraction.
- No weekly plan. Much like your to-do list, having a plan in place for what you need to accomplish by the end of the week is highly effective when it comes to managing your time. If you have no idea what needs to be done that week, how can you possibly expect to get anything of importance done at all?
- Ineffective scheduling. Ineffective scheduling is a big time waster among a huge number of businesses. Perhaps there’s no follow-through, so your client forgot about their appointment, or rescheduling is difficult, or the scheduling process itself is hard to navigate, making it so your client doesn’t get matched with the right person. All of these scenarios end in ineffective or cancelled meetings, resulting in time wasted.
- The myth of multi-tasking. Some people are very effective multitaskers, and they can manage multiple tasks at once. Think of a chef who has a dish on the stove while they are mixing the next thing to go into the dish. But, this scenario doesn’t always work. You could be flitting from task to task never fully completing any one thing.
- Guesswork. Providing your team with a lack of detail on their project plans leads to guesswork. This guesswork is a huge time suck because it’s pretty unlikely that they’ll guess correctly. Then they’ll have to redo their work, which leads to time wasted. Again.
- Distractions. We touched on this in the to-do list note. Distractions like social media, phone calls, emails, and even coworkers can be a huge time suck, leading to lower productivity for you and your team members.
- Overextending. Stress has a way of making you work horribly inefficiently. As the pressure mounts, all you can think about is your deadlines and not what needs to be done to accomplish those deadlines. Not being able to say no to tasks as they are assigned is a good way to overextend yourself, and result in stress and poor time management.
- No breaks. While it may seem better to use the entire workday for work, studies have shown that not taking a break at all results in burnout, and a total lack of effective functionality by the end of the day.
- Self-management. Many people say that they can’t work from home because they have no self-management skills. This is all about accountability. If you can’t hold yourself accountable for the tasks at hand, they won’t get done.
- No goals. Without clear goals or ideas of where your work is supposed to be going, you can’t expect to succeed at completing the tasks effectively.
Avoiding the time management mistakes
So, now that you know what the most common time management mistakes are, how can you avoid them?
- Make that to-do list! Having clear tasks right in front of you will help you maintain focus throughout your workday and even your workweek.
- Set clear goals. This way, you know what’s expected of you, and how much time you have to do it. Goals can be a very effective time management tool.
- Attainable deadlines. Deadlines are only helpful if they’re attainable. Missed deadlines hurt morale and irritate clients. So make sure you set achievable deadlines, taking all factors into account (things like your employee's strengths and circumstances, holidays, vacation time, etc.). Doing so will go a long way with effective time management.
- Prioritize. Make sure that you understand which tasks are most important, and do those first. This way you are not only working and checking things off your list, but you’re working smart.
- Eliminate distractions. Stop procrastinating, get off Facebook or YouTube, and just do the work. You’d be surprised at how much you can get done in 10 distraction-free minutes.
- Manage your emails and phone calls. Just like any of your other tasks, make sure you prioritize and take control of your emails and calls. Don’t get stuck on a forty-minute call that could’ve lasted five if you’d kept the conversation on task. Answer all your important emails first, and leave the rest for later.
- Keep a time log. This can help you identify how you are spending your time, and if there are areas you need to eliminate distractions or add breaks.
- Take breaks. Studies show that short, frequent breaks are highly effective in increasing productivity in a long workday. So, get up, step outside, take a walk, or do something to refresh your brain so you can get back to work.
- Delegate. Don’t be an island when it comes to your job. Identify your team’s strong qualities and delegate tasks to them based on those strengths. This will keep your business humming along, and keep you checking things off your to-do list.
With these tools at your disposal, you should be able to structure your day more efficiently and be exponentially more effective with your time management. And what can you expect from that? More work done, more happy clients, and more success under your belt. Who would’ve thought that something as simple as effective time management could add up to all that?