Benjamin Franklin said, “Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff that life is made of.”Many of us struggle to manage our time and when we fail, wejump to the conclusion that we are not competent enough to accept this challenge or that we have flaws within.
Keeping in mind the importance of time, let us look at a few common mistakes that we often make and a few solutions to help us manage our time better.
1. Considering time as being elusive and intangible: The way we perceive time is our biggest stumbling block. Often, we perceive time as some intangible elusive thing, rather a quantifiable object which can be put into measurable terms. If we can contextualize time as a tangible object, we can assign specific tasks as per its schedule.
2. Lack of a backup plan: There should be a specific time-bound plan for every task you assign. It will help you to hit the bull’s eye with precision. Moreover, a proper plan will ensure you meet your deadlines consistently. Things will probably not always go according to plan, but some plan is certainly better than no plan at all.
3. Not jotting down as and when required: Every invention is born with a small idea which takes a great deal of time for development. So, instead of losing the idea, it’s better to jot it down and execute it. It also ensures that you keep your main task distinct from trivial ones. With this, we can tackle important and urgent work rather than focusing on low priority work.
4. Using multiple calendars and reminder systems: Using multiple calendars and reminder systems may actually be counter-productive as it may get confusing and make you lose focus.
5. Working in a distracting and chaotic environment: It is true that we sometimes don’t have too much control on these elements but we need to minimize their impact as quickly as possible. A distracting environment can have a devastating effect on your work, especially when you are working on a tight schedule.
6. Engaging in multi-tasking: Multi–tasking is inevitable at any workplace today and works well for relatively easy tasks. However it can slow you down when a given task requires complex thought. With multi-tasking, you need to shift gears constantly. This could result in a bunch of half-completed tasks, if you are not highly focused and disciplined.
7. Not delegating your work: You may be able to handle a lot of work but can’t do it all. At least not if you want to avoid burnout, which takes a toll on your effectiveness and productivity. By delegating what you can, you can save a lot of time for important tasks.
8. Time vampires: Keep at bay all those distracting elements such as phone calls, e-mails, text messaging, etc. These devour a lion’s share of your productive time, not allowing you to utilize it optimally.
9. Accustomed to saying “yes”: With the passage of time and an ever-increasing overload, you could easily get side-tracked from important tasks to trivial ones if you don’t learn to say ‘No’. Mahatma Gandhi rightly says a “No” uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a “Yes” merely uttered to please, or what is worse to avoid trouble.
10. Replicating others’ time management system: You cannot blindly replicate others’ time management strategies to make them work for you. It would be better to tweak them to suit your own working style.
11. Not keeping aside time to rest: You may have seen the advertisement of the Duracell Energizer Bunny which demonstrates the long-lasting characteristics of a superior battery. But since human beings are not Energizer Bunnies, we need adequate rest. When we are fatigued, we are unable to perform a task at optimal speed and end up taking far more time than usual.
12. Having an imbalance in key areas: As we all know, our lives are made up of various vital areas which include: Health, Family, Financial, Intellectual, Social, Professional and Spiritual aspects. It is not possible for us to devote everyday to each area in equal measure. At the same time, we need to have some balance and not neglect any of them – otherwise it will result in an imbalance and hinder our success.
13. Being busy without being effective: Both smart work and hard work are important. Often, we waste much of our valuable time only on achieving short-term goals rather than long-term goals. We might do this with the best of intentions, telling ourselves that we will get to the important tasks later. But our errors in making realistic estimates of time can make this plan fail.
14. Misusing your work inflows: For every factory (generally, manufacturing) there is an assembly line through which the entire process of work flows. This same phenomenon is applied to individuals too. Poor workflow management leads to misplaced information and this ultimately leads to a waste of your valuable time.
15. Not setting time for fixing personal goals: Without realizing the direction in which you are headed, you will always follow a zigzag path. You will grab every piece of work that comes to your attention without probing whether this will take you to your desired goals.
I think this quote by Michael LeBoeuf aptly summarizes the result of neglecting time management “Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.“I hope the tips I shared help you manage your time better.