Why Time Management is a Struggle
The struggle with time management is real. These 7 main time management mistakes are easy to make. If we are aware of the causes, we can proactively correct them. Time freedom happens when we use our time wisely so that we can complete necessary, repetitive tasks to maximize the time we have left for more valuable activities.
So, why does managing time seem so difficult? I know that I have control over how I spend my time, as everything I do is a choice, but what choices to make and how to stop wasting time can be very challenging. Unexpected events and delays pop up. It’s also difficult to determine how much time is taken up by responsibilities, obligations, and things that are unavoidable- like sleeping!
I want to dive into some time management mistakes that we all make to help guide you in the right direction towards using your time more wisely and to help accomplish more of your goals.
1: The Pitfalls of Productivity: Not knowing your “why”
It’s so easy to think you want or need something done a certain way when in reality, it’s not all that important to you. Productivity measures how much we get done in a set amount of time. But if what you’re doing does not matter or make much of a difference, it’s not a good use of your time. We have all been raised with a certain set of standards, whether shaped by our friends or society. Next time you take on a project or a task, ask yourself if this is the best use of your time and something truly valuable to you. Be clear about your priorities. You might be surprised as your response!
Since time is limited, we need to be very picky about what we choose to do with our time. When it comes to making decisions on what to do, prioritizing our options and creating a game plan will help you make the most of your time and keep you on track.
2: There’s never enough time
How many times do we use the excuse, “I just don’t have enough time…” There are many reasons for use saying this, one being that it’s not important enough for us to actually get around to it. But on the flip side, we use this as an excuse for when we aren’t prioritizing our time well enough and it’s our fault as to why something did not get done.
This can lead to disappointing a family member or letting a friend down. It’s really important to be real with yourself and determine why you missed a deadline or did not do something you should have.
We all have the same amount of time. We’re not all equally gifted at utilizing time to the best of our ability. And that’s okay. I might have more drive than you do, but you might be more efficient at getting something done. Being real with yourself, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, will help you realize when you’re making an excuse for a shortcoming that is something to be working on instead.
3: Not being realistic with how much time we waste
We can’t get away from technology and I hate to say it, but we are obsessed and addicted. It’s hard to put down the phone or not check it a million times. There’s also unlimited access to TV and movies. It’s too soon to tell, but it will be interesting or frightening to see the impact of cell phones and tablets in the foreseeable future. Do a reality check. We all need to reduce distractions. Are you able to step away from your phone? Leave it in another room overnight? Unplug from social media for a day or even a week?
A few more unobvious areas are perfectionism, indecision, and procrastination. These involve our mental abilities but they can take up a lot of time especially if we end up going down a rabbit trail getting way off task. When we keep these in check, we can reduce chronic stress.
Perfectionism is another thing that gets in the way of making a decision when it comes to time management. The fear of making the wrong decision can be paralyzing and keep us from deciding in a timely manner. Or we end up spending way too much time on a given task trying to perfect something that isn’t worth perfecting because it’s good enough.
This last area is a combination of the first two. We’re either putting off a task that we don’t want to do, or we’re frozen by perfectionism and can’t get started. Either way, if you’re not doing anything useful with your time while putting off something else, it’s time to take a step back and try to figure out what causes you to put off getting stuff done.
I’m not a very spontaneous person. It’s hard for me to switch gears, and I don’t handle plans switching very well. The opposite of this that can hold you back from completing tasks is not being able to stick to things because of boredom.
4: Multitasking doesn’t work
There is no such thing as multitasking. Our brains can only do one thing at a time. Doing multiple things at once just means that your brain is switching back and forth at a very quick rate. This isn’t true for everything as it depends on the complexity of the task. It’s not hard to walk and talk on the phone, but it is hard to listen to a podcast and learn something from it while trying to solve a complicated problem.
Our attention spans keep shrinking, and we probably all suffer from ADD. I know that I have a hard time sitting at my desk working on a project without getting distracted. Someone comes in and asks me something, or an alert pops up on my cell phone. A thought pops into my head of something I need to take care of or something else more interesting comes along that I’d rather do. Just now I stopped mid-thought and changed out my laundry!!!Time is a precious commodity that can be easily wasted. And is gone forever. But there's always room for improvement and striving for a better tomorrow. Click To Tweet
5: Not being realistic with how long something is going to take
I love to-do lists. I create them in the reminders app, in asana, in a notebook, on a dry erase board. They are pretty much everywhere. A lot of other time-wasters factor into the amount that I end up getting done in a day, but I’ve finally started chuckling to myself when I have a mile-long to-do list that I think I’m going to complete by the end of a weekend.
It’s okay to not get everything completed, but it can also be disappointing and frustrating if you’ve set your expectations too high. It’s important to analyze a project first, break it down into steps, and then try and estimate how long each step will take. This will help you not get in over your head and start a project that you can’t finish or allow you to set achievable goals, especially if something is time-sensitive.
6: Don’t put off until later what can be done right now
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Get to know your rhythm and when it’s best to do certain tasks. Determine when you are the most motivated and how to maximize your will-power to complete tasks that aren’t enjoyable. There are a ton of great time management books out there that address this topic. One addresses falling into the trap of this mistake. In Eat That Frog, Brian Tracy suggests doing your worst task immediately at the start of your day.
Another great piece of advice is the 2-minute rule. In David Allen’s Book, Get Things Done, there’s a great rule of thumb that if something takes a couple of minutes to do, just do it immediately. Don’t add it to a to-list. The task will take up more time in the long run.
7: Doing too many draining tasks at once
I feel into a rut a couple of years ago where I just couldn’t seem to get anything done. I had no motivation to do the dishes, and they would pile up in the sink for days. Laundry would only get done when I ran out of clothes and had nothing to wear. This was during a time where we lived in a very tiny home with little storage. Stuff was hard to get to, and the place was hard to clean.
If you don’t balance boring, tedious tasks with fun, enjoyable activities, you will burn out very quickly. If you really desire and need a clean home, but are feeling overwhelmed by it, it might be best to eliminate a few tasks that are absolutely necessary and replace them with self-care activities or a way to relax.
The last point on this is that we only have so many decision-making capabilities. When we reach our threshold, we lose efficiency and the ability to make good decisions. Our motivation gas tank also ends up empty. We can’t always control what life throws at us. Creating routines and systems in our home will limit the number of decisions we need to make. This will free up brainpower for more fun and creative endeavors!
Start Making the Right Choices When It Comes to Time Management
If we don’t manage our time well, it can cost us dearly. We can’t get back time, but we can learn from our mistakes and make changes to our behavior so that we can do better in the future.
I hope this list of time management mistakes has given you something to think about. Are there certain ones that you struggle with more than others? What is one thing you can work on this week that will help you make better decisions and spend your time more wisely?
Hi, I’m Shara
I have a passion for organizing. This stems from being naturally drawn to simplicity and structure in my home. Combined with my desire to help women achieve their goals, Simply Renewed Living was born.