Top 5 Time Management Mistakes
by Dr. Donald E. Wetmore
In my thirty years as a Time Management speaker and consultant, I have observed a lot of what we can and should not do to increase our daily result. Time management is not necessarily working "harder", but rather, "smarter".
And to get accomplish significantly more in our days, we need not increase our efforts. As an example, in a horserace, the first horse may earn a $50,000 purse and the second horse may earn a $25,000 purse. The first horse gets twice as much money as the second horse, not because it ran twice as far or twice as fast. It was only a "nose ahead" of the competition.
So it is with our daily results. We need not run twice as fast or put in twice the effort to significantly increase our daily success. We only need to be a "nose ahead" of where we already are. We are all productive in our days. We would not survive the demands of this world if we were not. The real challenge is how much more productive can we become?
And, a lot of our time management has to do with more of what we are not doing rather than what we are doing. Sometimes our mistakes and omissions will keep us from running at a full pace.
Here are the Top Five Time Management Mistakes we should all avoid to help us to increase our daily success both on and off the job, in less time and with less stress.
- Start your day without a plan of action. You will begin your day by responding to the loudest voice (the squeaky wheel gets the grease) and spend it in a defensive mode, responding to other people's and events' demands. The tail will wag the dog. If there is a void of leadership in your time management life, someone will fill that void, not that others are bad people, but others will take all of your time if you let them. You will have worked hard but may not have done enough of right things. Time Management is not doing the wrong things quicker. That just gets us nowhere faster. Time Management is doing the right things.
- Get out of balance in your life. Our lives are made up of Seven Vital Areas: Health, Family, Financial, Intellectual, Social, Professional, and Spiritual. We will not necessarily spend time every day in each area or equal amounts of time in each area. But if in the long run, we spend a sufficient quantity and quality of time in each area, our lives will be in balance. But if we neglect any one area, never mind two or three, we will eventually sabotage our success. Much like a table, if one leg is longer than the rest, it will make the entire table wobbly. If we don't take time for health, our family life and social life are hurt. If our financial area is out of balance, we will not be able to focus adequately on our professional goals, etc.
- Work with a messy desk or work area. Studies have shown that the person who works with a messy desk spends, on average, one and a half hours per day looking for things or being distracted by things. That's seven and a half hours per week. ("Out of sight-out of mind." And the reverse of that is true too, "In sight, in mind"). And, it's not a solid block of an hour and a half, but a minute here and a minute there, and like a leaky hot water faucet, drip, drip, drip, it doesn't seem like a major loss, but at the end the day, we're dumping gallons of hot water down the drain that we are paying to heat. If you have ever visited the office of a top manager, typically, that person is working with a clean desk environment. Many would attribute this practice to that person's access to other staff members. While there may be some truth in that conclusion, in most cases, if we went back some years in that person's career, they probably were working with a clean desk back then which gave them the focus they needed to become promoted to where they are today.
- Don't get enough sleep. Studies show that nearly 75% of us complain on a regular basis, all throughout our days, that we are flat-out tired. For most people, they get the quantity of sleep, but they lack the quality of sleep. Their days are filled with so much stress, they are out of control, working harder but maybe not smarter, that it's difficult to get a full night's sleep. (For some, they simply do not allow for a sufficient quantity of sleep.) If you will plan your day, then work your plan, you will get more done, feel a higher sense of accomplishment, and experience less stress and enjoy a more restful night's sleep.
- Don't take a lunch break. Many do not take a lunch break, working through that time period in the hope that it will give them more time to produce results. Studies have shown it may work just the opposite. After doing what we do for several hours, we start to "dull out". Sure, we can work through lunch and be productive, but that is not the issue. The issue is "how much more" productive we can be. A lunch break, even a short fifteen minute break, gives us a chance to get our batteries all charged up again to more effectively handle the afternoon's challenges. We are then less likely to procrastinate a few of those difficult tasks that, in the long run, will make a positive difference in our personal productivity.
If these ideas were helpful, we have prepared an additional checklist entitled, "Top Five Best Time Management Practices". It's free. If you would like a copy, email your request for "top five" to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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