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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.

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Shawn Lim

Blogger, Entrepreneur, and Motivation Expert

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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