The 8 Time Management Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Productivity
Do your tasks keep piling up? Does the day seem to zip by without you getting anything done? If you work hard every day but never quite manage to reach your goals, you’re likely suffering from one of these productivity killers.
Managing your time is key to getting things done, so we're giving you insight into the 8 time management mistakes that are steering you in the wrong direction and leaving you idle.
Mistake #1: Not setting SMART personal goals
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you get there? Having concrete goals in place is the best way to keep yourself on the straight and narrow and stay motivated.
You’re much more likely to stick to them if your goals are SMART:
Specific: well-defined and clear
Measurable: able to be tracked, monitored, and checked off the list when completed
Achievable: with the resources, time frame and other commitments you have
Relevant: why is the goal important to you, your ambitions and your values?
Time-based: enough time given to achieve the goal, but not so much that you’ll waste time
Define your goals over the short term and long term, and clearly identify the actions you’ll need to take to get there. These actions can also be transferred to your To-Do list!
Speaking of which...
Mistake #2: Not creating a To-Do list
When you’ve got a free 10 minutes, do you want to waste it trying to remember all the stuff you need to do? Or do you want to whip out your master list, pick off the task that suits your time and priorities best, and make the most of the opportunity? Do we even have to ask?
Keeping a to-do list is a way to prioritise and tidy up your mind. It helps you feel less distracted and more relaxed because your brain is free from trying to remember your various tasks, or feeling guilty about avoiding those tasks and suddenly waking up in the wee hours of the morning having just remembered Super Important Task #397.
Organisation is key!
Mistake #3: Not deciding on your Super Important Tasks
You should have a list of everything that you need to do, but this should be broken down into priorities so that you don’t waste time on unimportant tasks when there are VIPs on the list.
It can be tempting (and satisfying) to knock off a bunch of 5-minute, mundane tasks instead of taking a chunk out of the big project that’s due soon, but ask yourself: which one will get you to where you need to be?
Highlight the things that really need to get done, and make yourself work on those first. Your mental health will thank you for it and your life will be made all that much easier too.
Mistake #4: Underestimating how long a task will take
Whether it’s the complexity of the task, having to wait on confirmation or feedback, or simply your computer acting up, many tasks (big and small) often end up taking longer than initially planned.
Train yourself to work smarter by jotting down how long you think each task on your list will take before you start, then noting down how long it actually took - and think about prioritising your most important tasks first. This will give you insight as you progress and help you plan better in the future.
Another great way to balance your time is to figure out what your 'peak time' is. For example, some people work best after their morning coffee while others are most efficient in the late afternoon. Whatever the case may be, allocate this peak time for doing top-priority work instead of spending your most productive hours on trivial tasks. You'll get things done faster and be happier for it.
Mistake #5: Multitasking
Multitasking isn’t really multitasking. You’re really switching between tasks quickly in a way that can seriously damage your focus, motivation, and energy reserves.
The only exception is if one task is simple and common enough that you’re on autopilot, such as loading laundry. If both tasks are even remotely challenging, you’re in for brain drain. Three or more? Say goodbye to your productivity and performance.
Instead, focus on one task for a set amount of time, between 25 minutes and an hour for the best results. Limit checking your email and social media to set times of the day.
Mistake #6: Letting in little distractions
It’s just after lunch, and you grab some coffee before you get back to work. You open up the last task you were working on, but a new email pops up, so you answer it right away. As you’re finishing that, your colleague starts chatting to you about a new recipe they tried, and then you get another email, and then a text, and then you think you’ll just have one more coffee.
Before you know it, it’s 4pm and you're coming down from the caffeine jitters only to realise that you’ve done nothing significantly productive in the last few hours.
Don’t let it happen! Try sticking to a schedule that has 10-minute built-in breaks so you can get any faffing about out of your system and get back to work. If you’re really struggling, try the Pomodoro Timer to keep you on track.
Mistake #7: Procrastination
Ah, the mother of all time-suckers. Procrastination is the snowball that leads to the avalanche.
You start off promising yourself you’ll just spend only a few minutes on Instagram, and end up rushed, under-prepared and feeling dreadfully guilty as you snap back to reality an hour later.
How do you defeat the monster? Try breaking big tasks into smaller ones, and promising you’ll tick off just the first one before you continue your Netflix binge. It’s more than likely that you’ll want to keep going once you’ve gotten started, and even if you don’t, you’re still a little closer than you were before, making it easier to pick back up again.
Mistake #8: Neglecting your health
Eating right, exercising, and getting a good night's sleep is especially important if you want to remain productive throughout the day. By not taking care of yourself, on the other hand, you're inevitably going to start feeling the fatigue and exhaustion that so often comes with it, ultimately risking the dreaded burnout.
If you don't have your health, you can't work up to your full potential. So make sure you hydrate, get in your five-a-day and hit the sack at a decent hour to keep you happy, healthy, and ready for a new workday.
We only have so much time in a day so you can use it to avoid what needs to be done, or you can use it to complete your tasks, achieve your goals, and get to where you want to be! The choice is entirely yours.
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