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10 Time Management Mistakes Most People Fall Into

10 Time Management Mistakes Most People Fall Into

Are you feeling overwhelm and are getting nowhere? Or do you feel like you are having too much time and are feeling bored because you don’t accomplish much in life? In this article, you will discover the 10 time-management mistakes most people fall into.

1. Never envisioning or thinking about tomorrow.

This is very common and it is one of the main reasons most people have a problem with time management. Great businessmen and women and those who created extraordinary results in life are typically visionaries. They see things further into the future rather than just seeing things as they are now.

When you think about how you are going to go through tomorrow, you will better equip yourself with what’s coming. You will literally able to see what needs to get done and what you need to accomplish. More importantly, when you envision or think about the coming days, you will feel more motivated because you are envisioning yourself creating the future you want and moving one step closer toward your dreams.

2. Not planning ahead.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

There seems to be some truth in this saying. The majority of the people plan their working days, but they never really plan their weekends or their off days. Yes, you may say that on your off days you just want to be “off” and doing nothing. However, if you do not plan for your weekend, you will just waste your weekend thinking about what to do.

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A lot of people wake up late on the weekend. They spend most of their time thinking about what to do, what to eat and where to go. You don’t have to plan every minute or every hour for your weekend. What I’m suggesting is that you can plan for 3 to 5 activities that you want to do during your weekend. For example, you can plan to go jogging in the morning, shopping in the afternoon and have dinner with friends at night. You will at least fill your weekend time with some meaningful and productive activities.

3. Starting their day late.

If you study the success stories of all the great people out there, almost all of them started their days early. None of them started their days late. The man behind Starbucks, Howard Schultz, gets up at 4:30 a.m. almost every day. Richard Branson wakes up around 5:45 a.m. to do his daily exercise. Apple CEO, Tim Cook started his day at 4:30 a.m. and Procter & Gamble CEO, A.G. Lafley wakes up around 5:00–5:30 a.m and is at his desk by 6:30 a.m. or 7:00 a.m. at the latest.

Can you see it now? Great people share one thing in common: they all wake up early to do their most important task and they exercise before they get to the office. If you start your day late, you will feel rushed throughout the whole day. Just like if you start your day late, you eat your breakfast hastily or even skip your breakfast; you may get stuck in a traffic jam and arrive late; everyone will push you on your work, and your boss may scold you for being late. Can you imagine how stressful the day will be?

4. Focusing on doing the wrong thing.

Never ever forget your goals and your targets. Many people have difficulty in managing their time because they focus on doing the wrong thing. If you want to be productive, you must make sure you are working on things that really matter and things that will move you toward your goals and targets.

For example, when things get out of hand, people will focus on the problem and start blaming each other. The right thing to do is to focus on the outcomes and the solutions available to you. Just like if you are in sales, don’t forget that your main purpose is to sell and not to call or meet clients for the sake of calling them and meeting them.

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5. Getting distracted along the way.

One of the most popular time-management problems with most people is that they get distracted along the way. A very simple example is that when you are trying to do your work on your computer, and then suddenly you get a notification from Facebook saying your friend commented on one of your posts, so what did you do? You quickly turn to Facebook and check out what’s going on.

This is a very common thing that happens to most people. We get distracted when some other things seem more “interesting” to us. As long as you focus on your targets and always keep your goals in your mind, it will shield you from distractions.

6. Going through each day without aims, targets and goals.

Do you know what you need to get done by tomorrow, by end of this week and by end of this month? Most people never really have a goal or a target. That is why most of them go through life without passion and motivation. Successful people always have a clear indication of the outcome that they want; that is why they are able to move forward toward the future they desire.

If you don’t have a goal, how can you tell if you have reached it? How can you know whether or not you are on track or are producing the result you want when you don’t know what exactly you want? Today, if you go to work without energy, with no passion, and you go to work for the sake of salary and for the sake of working, you better stop reading right now and take time to think about the future you want. It is when you are absolutely clear with what you want to accomplish in your life that you will be able to come up with the right things to do and manage your time properly.

7. Not having a to-do list.

Some people said that to-do lists are useless, because what good is a to-do list if you aren’t marking off items? Let’s make one thing clear: having a to-do list is always much better than not having one. The reason is that the list helps you understand what you need to get done. When you know what you need to do, you will be well-prepared.

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Sometimes we may get so busy and forget what we need to get done, and this is where our to-do list can come to help. First it prepares us for what is coming and next; it reminds us of what we need to do. It is all right if you did not follow through with your to-do list in the first few days; what you want is to make it into a habit, and then you will see how effective it can be. The main key to make your to-do list works for you is to make completing tasks into a habit.

8. No rest and all work.

This is going to be controversial and subjective. Do you think that you are working a lot today or do you think that you are too free and not getting much done? This is a very subjective question and it all depends on how much you can take. If you are a workaholic, you may feel that you don’t have enough time no matter how much you have actually put into work. On the other hand, if you are not a workaholic, you may feel that you have done so much and you just want to get some rest.

The point here is that you need to find the balance between resting and working. And this is totally subjective base on each individual’s ability. Some people can work till late at night and still feel motivated to do more, while some people can’t take it after 6 p.m. When you feel motivated and want to get more done, do so. When you feel tired, get some rest. After all, success is a journey and not a destination. You need to rest in order to get more done.

9. Being too free and not moving forward.

Sometimes you will feel that you are too free or you wasted too much time on unnecessary activities and you are not moving forward at all. This is the time when you need to think about your goals and what need to get done. This is why you need a to-do list too. You don’t really need to worry about committing to doing too many tasks or too few tasks; just like what you have learned above, you want to turn getting things done into a habit so that you will know how much work you can take each day.

Most people will fall into this category of too free and not moving forward instead of the other way around. You should be able to tell if you are moving forward by tracking your results from time to time. If you are not moving forward, it is time for you to think whether you are not doing the right thing, or whether or not you do enough.

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10. Being a perfectionist.

Always adopt the mindset of “ready, fire and aim” instead of “ready, aim and fire” approach. Always remember that no one is perfect in this world. We learn the most from our mistakes, not from our successes. Therefore, just go ahead and do it. Just like what Richard Branson has to say:

“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes—then learn how to do it later!”

You don’t have to understand every detail to start. You can start right away and figure the rest of the details which you don’t know. As long as you are always in motion and moving, you will have an edge over people who are always thinking but are not doing anything. Yes, you need to spend time planning and thinking about your strategies, but more importantly, you need to take action and act right away.

More by this author

Shawn Lim

Blogger and Internet Entrepreneur

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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