This is a guest post by Peter Lee – a web developer and freelance writer for ScholarAdvisor. He’s very keen on researching, writing, digital tools and modern education issues.
Time management is one of the most powerful tools to organize self space. It’s widely known these days as a tool of self-organization; almost everyone has heard something about it. However, many of us don’t fully use time management to organize our time effectively. At the same time, this discipline can really help to improve self-efficacy. Thereby, whether or not you use time management, it can be useful for you to learn about these time management mistakes and the way to avoid them.
Top 12 Common Time Management Mistakes to Avoid
- Underestimating the importance of your to-do list;
- Not using the system of personal goals;
- Underestimating the value of prioritizing;
- Being addicted to distractions;
- Failing to fight procrastination;
- Taking on too much (failing to delegate authority or inability to say “no” to unimportant stuff);
- Not planning and thinking things through before getting started;
- Taking more tasks than you can handle;
- Doing two or more tasks at the same time (multitasking);
- Underestimating the importance of breaks;
- Failing to make an effective schedule;
- Not using external storage for your ideas (not writing everything down).
Practical Time Management Rules
It’s not a big problem if you haven’t used a to-do list to organize your time yet, because you can easily learn how to do it.
A to-do list is a tool to free your brain from technical organizing tasks and to always be aware of what you can do for your success. However, it’s very important to use this powerful tool correctly; if you put all kinds of tasks on the list, it may become a depressing load.
It’s better to use “the rule of 2 minutes” and “the rule of 5 minutes” to make your to-do list effective.
“The rule of 5 minutes” is that it’s smarter to complete any task which can be finished in five minutes, right when it came to you, than to add it to your to-do list. This rule helps managers filter different kinds of tasks.
Statistic says, that when small tasks get on our to-do list, they are usually postponed for a long time. And vise versa, average and big tasks that cannot be done quickly must be written there.
Sometimes it’s scary to start working on a big task, that’s why people are more likely to do average tasks. So managers have developed a simple rule to deal with this.
“The rule of 2 minutes” is that you should put your big tasks on your to-do list (and in your day planner) and to spend at least two minutes a day performing them.
Learning How to Avoid Main Time Management Mistakes
If you want to become effective, you have to create a system for your personal goals and preferences, and to organize your time and your working activities according to that.
What is my goal? What do I want to do? What is the place where I want to be in five, ten or twenty years?
Use visualization to tune yourself on your goals (this is some kind of self-programming; sometimes it can be very effective). All this will help you learn how to divide tasks into important and unimportant.
Identify unimportant ones and try to avoid them – learn to say “no” to such tasks and people who want to make you do them, to better deal with such common time management mistakes.
Identify tasks that are important for your success and try to spend at least 50% of your working time on them (the rule of “fifty percent”).
Saying ‘No’ to Distractions and Procrastination
If you want to become effective and stay focused, you need to fight distractions.
We live in a great information flow these days, so we have no choice – to become effective sometimes you need to say “no”, or you’ll fall into the trap of making more time management mistakes. Learn how to reject everything that distracts you from your work – your friends’ calls, games on your phone, social networks or even door bell.
If it will make you more effective – close your door, turn off your phone and don’t turn it on until you finish what you need to do for today.
The same goes for procrastination – say “no” to the procrastinator that lives in all of us. The easiest way to fight it is to set a limit of sitting in front of the monitor and doing nothing.
For example, you can decide on 10 minutes; when they end – start working. To overcome procrastination you need to firmly decide to start working. Nothing else will help; sometimes we need to force ourselves to do any kind of work and this gives us new energy to do other stuff too.
Be Optimistic, But Also Realistic
Surely, sometimes there is so much energy in us that we take more and more tasks. But being very busy, we rarely stay effective. So try to always take into account your real capabilities to handle tasks.
Don’t take on too much and don’t do many tasks at the same time, as it becomes impossible to manage workload. The quality of your lifestyle will influence your effectiveness too – so don’t forget to take breaks, sleep well and eat healthy food.
What time management mistakes have you made?
Full-time freelance writer. Lifestyle designer.
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