Time management remains a perennial issue for us all. There’s too much to do and too much shiny stuff around that screams at us “look at me.” There are a million characteristics of poor time management, but here are eight of the most egregious:
Having No Purpose
Yes indeed…the old purpose thing. What am I here for? Difficult to really get a hold of purpose but a good place to start is with values – what are my core beliefs? (beyond the stuff no one would argue with, e.g. fair, compassionate, respectful etc, etc). What turns you on? What do you love doing? From purpose comes goals and from goals comes focus and from focus comes productivity – easy.
No real understanding of what’s important
People make this mistake all the time. They have no real understanding of what will deliver success and what will merely facilitate it. Which is OK actually because it’s not always clear, but it does need to be understood so if it’s not clear, it’s experiment time. Do stuff and if it works, keep doing it. If not, do something else. There are usually only a handful of critical activities that will deliver success. The rest are secondary and will not make the difference.
What holds us back is usually inside us. We need to drag it out screaming into the light and drive a stake through its heart. It’s a fight to the death and we must win. This is a time management issue because until we slay what holds us back we cannot be productive because you cannot be productive doing half the things you need to do – doesn’t make sense.
You must have loads of this. With yourself and with all those around you. I trundled off with Jennifer and the boys to see a car today at a dealer who shall remain anonymous. The boys have a fixed idea of what they want – a blue convertible. It must be “blue, with a “wibbly-wobbly roof”. The dealer explained politely that this was a “90 minute process” – I assume he meant the sales process and not whatever it was he was doing with his hands in his pockets. That was his agenda. We had a different agenda – quick test drive of a specific car and then home for a chat (without the car salesman). There can only be one agenda – yours or someone else’s. Best to make it yours.
No understanding of own rhythms
Not all hours are equal. Some of us are best in the morning, some are better in the afternoon. Different times of day are better for different activities. We can try to manage our diaries accordingly and do what’s important when we are at our best.
Thinking Multi-tasking works
Fragmenting our time into ever smaller slivers – ten minutes on this, twenty minutes on that. Total disaster. It is massively inefficient and is getting dangerously close to the fantasy that is multi-tasking. Our brains are much better with uninterrupted chunks of time on specific, single tasks.
There’s always a time to be reactive, but with some people it becomes the default. Almost all activity is in response to an external event – email, phone call, colleague’s request – it goes on. Unless these people are offering to pay your mortgage this month, be very careful – they are trying to steal your time!
Having a To Do List
Oh no! Usually the number one symptom of many of the issues above…quickly throw it away, get out a big sheet of beautiful white paper and write on it the most important thing you can do now. Then go and do it. Once that’s done….get out another sheet of beautiful white paper and write on it the most important thing you can do now. Then go and do it. Once that’s done…….