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5 Common Time Management Truths That Can Make You Unproductive

5 Common Time Management Truths That Can Make You Unproductive


    In time management, there is certain advice that is repeated over and over again. These lessons have become a “de-facto” standard in the time management industry.

    SEE ALSO: Boost Your Time Management Skills With These 9 Techniques

    Although I think that this advice is important to understand and implement in your everyday life, at times I don’t necessarily agree with all these lessons.

    1. Take massive action

    I can’t remember how many times I have heard this advice and why you should take massive action – yet this lesson can be easily misunderstood and implemented the wrong way.

    Rather than taking blindly massive action, understand your goal, pick an important task (or tasks) related to your goal and take massive action on that instead.

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    Taking massive action for its own sake is just silly. You can waste time and energy if you focus your efforts to the wrong tasks.

    Take smart and focused massive action instead of just massive action.

    2. Improve your productivity with The Pomodoro Technique

    The Pomodoro technique is a very popular productivity system and it is based on working in short bursts of time (25 minutes which equals one Pomodoro).

    The basic premise is that you can improve your productivity, because those time blocks are very focused and condensed. Also, having breaks between sessions gives a good rhythm to your work and most likely you won’t lose your attention span.

    I’m not into Pomodoro – at least not in every situation.

    For instance, my ideal working block is 45 minutes (sometimes it is even longer). By using that amount of time I’m

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    • Able to get a lot of work done
    • I’m still able to focus to my task at hand (I’m not losing my attention span)
    • I’m not violently stopping my work mode after 25 minutes

    This is just to say that even if the Pomodoro technique may work for some, it’s not my ideal way of working.

    Although you should improve your own working routines by using a solid system, it is also worth testing the system first and then decide if it’s for you or not.

    Whatever the system is that you are learning about (whether it is Pomodoro, GTD …), you still need to apply it to your own personal conditions and tweak it to your needs.

    3. Focus on your strengths, not weaknesses

    In an ideal world you would be able to only focus on your strengths and forget your weaknesses. But believe me – it is useful to focus on your weaknesses too!

    For example, if you are a shy person and lack of social skills, do you think you should just forget of overcoming your shyness and  improving yourself? Of course not!

    In fact, there are examples of people (like those shy ones), who have turned their weaknesses into their strengths and now they teaching how you can do the same (like Kent Sayre, author of the book Unstoppable Confidence).

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    If your weakness is making your life harder, it is worth figuring out if you can do something about it. And although you should focus on improving your strengths, you shouldn’t completely ignore your weaknesses either.

    4. “Work smart, not hard”

    The promise of this common phrase is that when you work smart, you make the right decisions, reduce your stress levels and get the right things done. However, sometimes I feel that it is an excuse for not working at all.

    Even if it is okay to work smart it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work hard at all. In fact, you are still required to work hard – but instead on the things that make the most difference!

    Working smart doesn’t give you excuses to slack off. It is only giving you the right area to focus on and direct where you should put all your efforts (which generates the great results).

    5. Do not multitask

    Multitasking is the root of all evil – especially when it comes to your productivity.

    This is a very common lesson in time management circles and I agree with this advice. Yet, multitasking serves its purpose if done properly.

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    I understand that writing an e-book while checking your Facebook page is not going to help you to get that e-book done. But in some other scenarios, multitasking might come very handy.

    I learned about taking advantage of multitasking by reading a book called Find Your Focus Zone (by Lucy Jo Palladino). There she introduced the concept that she calls mindful multitasking.

    The basic idea behind the term is that when you multitask, you are aware that you productivity level is going to decrease. Yet, you multitask, because it helps you to put yourself back to your focus zone.

    For instance, I have used this technique when I have been working on mundane data entry tasks. I need some stimulus to get the work done and one way to do it is to do something other than your main task at hand. So, if checking my Facebook page can help me to get the data entry work done (and get me back to my focus zone), so then be it!

    Also, you can seamlessly multitask in other occasions – like rehearsing your presentation you are giving the next day while you are exercising or thinking about new blog post ideas when in the shower. So multitasking – when used mindfully and intelligently – can maximize your time usage.

    In Closing…

    Although it is important to understand the basic time management theories, it is also crucial to take a critical look at them. Don’t always take things for granted. Put those theories to the test and see if they are beneficial in your particular situation.

    (Photo credit: Crossed Fingers Behind Back via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Last Updated on October 14, 2020

    Delegation of Authority: The Complete Guide for Effective Leaders

    Delegation of Authority: The Complete Guide for Effective Leaders

    Do you absolutely hate failing? You’re in luck because, today, you’ll learn the art of how to tackle failure in your work life. The magic trick is called delegation of authority.

    Failure is often a result of excess burden. When you take on more than you can handle, you are unable to perform well, even if you have the expertise to do it perfectly. It’s demotivating, a waste of time, and extremely annoying.

    Let’s take a deep look into the delegation of authority to figure out how to make the most of it.

    What Does It Mean to Delegate Authority?

    Delegating authority is neither magic nor rocket science. It is exactly what it means: division of workload and distribution of power.

    Now, this is where most superiors get worried. They misunderstand the idea and believe that distribution will take away their authority.

    However, the division and distribution of authority are like giving the entire team autonomy over their own job, but their control is limited to just that.

    The superior still has supremacy over all the employees.

    Authority delegation minimizes the workload of the superior. This work is broken down into smaller tasks and spread out into a team so that every member works simultaneously to finish the project in a shorter time.

    3 Elements of Delegating Authority

    The delegation of authority has three elements:

    1. Assigning Responsibility

    This is the first step in the process. A person who is in charge, such as a manager or a team leader, assigns other team members certain tasks that have to be completed in a given period. Of course, this is only possible if the superior has more control and authority in the work environment than the subordinates.

    2. Granting Authority

    The next step is to give the subordinates enough authority and responsibility for them to complete the task and act independently.

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    So, let’s say you are a supervisor who allocated one person in your team to do a certain task. This assignment will be useless to you if the subordinate has to come to you every step of the way to get permission and signatures required to fulfill the allocated job.

    Unless you’re giving authority, you aren’t delegating. Instead, you’re only assigning a task, and that won’t bring you any benefits.

    Also, granting authority puts the subordinate in charge. This person is now responsible for doing what they’re assigned, however they like. It’s up to them how they tackle obstacles. All that you as the supervisor should be concerned about are the final results.

    3. Maintaining Accountability

    There’s always a risk that some team members may not act responsibly, especially when they have been given authority over the assigned task. This is why you have to make every employee or team member accountable through some rules and regulations.

    The superior must always have the right to ask the responsible person about their task[1]. Creating an accountability culture in a company is important, and accountability goes upwards in the hierarchy of a work environment. Never offer any leniency in this regard if you want to ensure quality outputs.

    This step of giving and receiving feedback helps improve the future work ethic immensely.[2]

    Effective delegation of authority

      Why Is It Important to Delegate Authority?

      Many times, superiors take on all the duties because they have a hard time trusting someone else to do the job as well as they would do themselves.

      That’s a valid concern, and it may keep you from getting the most out of authority delegation.

      But, with this risk comes a long list of benefits. It is actually important to delegate authority for the betterment of your organization and team.

      Superiors Can Perform Better

      The most important benefit of delegating authority is that the manager divides authority and gets the time to do their actual job.

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      As a supervisor, your first duty is to maintain the flow of your team. With your workload minimized and more time at hand, you can pay attention to the minor details.

      It gives supervisors the time to look at the more important stuff. Simultaneously, they get a chance to test which team members are most efficient. In case of any problem, the delegator has enough room in their schedule to sit down to figure out a solution.

      All in all, it leads to a more efficient performance from the supervisor’s side.

      Subordinates Learn With the Flow

      With a degree of authority in their hands, the subordinates begin to feel useful and important. This feeling is the most important route to improvement.

      As your subordinates work independently, they not only improve their existing skills, but they also perform better. Since they are ones in control, they are the only ones accountable for everything they put on the table. This sense of responsibility provides the mandatory boost of motivation[3].

      Moreover, with the delegation of authority, the superiors and subordinates work on the same level to a certain extent. This allows the team members to learn from their supervisors while also polishing their knowledge practically.

      Leads to Better Relationships

      If you’re in charge of any team, work as a manager, or own an organization that you run, you already know why employee-employer relationships are vital.

      The same applies to every workgroup.

      So, even if you’re just one small group of 5 people in a multinational organization, the rules are coherent.

      By letting go of some responsibilities and giving individuals a chance to grow, you’re spreading positive work vibes. It all works in a cycle where you give the team some authority, they feel important and outperform, your trust in them strengthens, and you continue to delegate authority moving forward.

      5 Tips to Delegate Authority Effectively

      There is a whole mechanism that supports the delegation of authority.

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      If done right, this concept has numerous advantages. However, the key is that it’s done right.

      1. Choose the Best Person

      It’s not easy to trust another person to do something that you would have preferred to do yourself. That is why it is crucial that you only delegate a task to someone that you have full faith in.

      The easiest way to do this is to pre-asses every team member’s skills and qualities. In your mind, have a clear idea of who does what best. So, if there is one particular individual who excels at technology, you will know where to go every time there’s a job related to that skill.

      Once you’re satisfied with who is in control, more than half of the issue is resolved and things will most likely go smoothly.

      2. Offer Enough Autonomy

      One huge mistake you may make is to break down tasks too much.

      Let’s say your team of 10 people has to arrange an office party for 100 people. You have to manage the location, decorations, food, and furniture.

      You can either assign 4 individuals each of the 4 main jobs, or you can divide each component further into small tasks.

      In the case of the latter, tasks will overlap, things will get confusing, and none of your team members will have full control over their assigned task.

      This generally leads to a final result that is extremely non-coherent.

      3. Clear Communication

      A major aspect of delegation is the availability of clear instructions. From details of the task to deadlines, the person who has to fulfill the job should be clear on every single detail.

      Unless they know what’s expected from them, they will never be able to satisfy the delegator.

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      You can learn more about effective communication in this article.

      4. Avoid Unnecessary Pressure

      Yes, diamonds only form after the charcoal is put under immense pressure. But, honestly, you don’t need to implement that strategy in your work environment when implementing delegation of authority.

      Offer plenty of time and flexibility for each individual to be able to offer their best performance.

      Some people may work better under pressure. In that case, let the individual make that decision for themselves.

      5. Offer a Helping Hand

      Just because you’ve given someone else the task and power does not mean you have to back off completely.

      In fact, you should try to be a part of the process, but only from outside a defined boundary. This is something you’ll have to figure out practically as per the needs of your work environment. However, it will ultimately lead to you being a more respected leader:

      The important point is that if someone is facing an issue with the delegated task, do not refuse to help. Offer advice and support readily so that your team can learn from you. It will end up benefiting your organization.

      Final Thoughts

      Conclusively, it is safe to say that the delegation of authority is a very helpful technique to adopt in workplaces. It allows for a positive working environment as well as fruitful results.

      It’s something that all leaders should implement to achieve a time-efficient and productive workspace!

      More on the Importance of Delegation

      Featured photo credit: Dylan Gillis via unsplash.com

      Reference

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