This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #StartingABusiness
Here are 12 ways to make sure you’re not wasting the most valuable resource in your life: time.
10 min read
This story originally appeared on Calendar
It takes a lot of moxie and self-awareness to admit what your strengths and weaknesses are. I mean how gut-wrenching must it be for someone to audition on a talent show and be told that they aren’t as good as they thought they were? Personally, I would be devastated. But, how good is your time management? Would your time management skills earn you a medal?
At the same time, it’s not always the end of the world. For example, I always wanted to be decent at drawing. I was never passionate enough to pursue a career in a field like animation. I just enjoy doodling and wish that I was better at it as a hobby or way to decompress.
Other times, being good can pay dividends. It could inspire you to start your own business or lead a more fulfilled life. And, there are certain skills that you should be good at because it will impact every aspect of your life. Case in point, time management.
When you’re able to manage time, you’re not wasting your most valuable resource in life. You’ll become more productive and successful at work and at home. You’ll also improve your overall health. And, you’ll be more confident and energetic to take face anything head-on.
But, how can you tell if you’re good at time management or not? Well, you could ask yourself if time management comes naturally to you, like being a planner or living in your calendar. You could also keep a lookout for patterns or solicit feedback from others. There are even online quizzes that may help you answer this question.
Or, you could review the following twelve symptoms of poor time management to see if you fit the bill.
1. Your punctuality is less than desired.
It’s become a running joke with my friends. We have one member of our crew is infamous for being late and unreliable. In fact, it’s so bad that if you had dinner reservations for 7 p.m., we would tell him that it’s at 6 just to make that they arrive on time!
I don’t think anyone purposely wants to have that reputation. But if you’re known for constantly running late or missing deadlines, then that’s definitely a sign that you need to step-up your time management game. You could do this by giving yourself more time then you need. Examples would be bumping up a due date by a day or two or leaving ten minutes earlier.
You may also want to insert buffers into your calendar so that you’re no jumping immediately from one thing to the next. And, you may need to work on your organizational skills and stop overcommitting.
2. The tasks that you work on aren’t the highest priority.
Prioritizing what needs to be done and time management goes hand-in-hand. After all, identifying your priorities ensures that you’re spending the right time on the right task at the right moment. It also prevents you from wasting your valuable time on activities that are so unimportant that they could either be done by someone else or completely removed for your to-do-list.
The most important thing to remember here is that not everything is important. To help you determine this, create a master list of everything that you need to get done. Next, analyze your list and determine what you need to do right now and what can be scheduled for later. As for everything else? Delegate.
3. You’re always in a rush.
Do you feel like you’re always rushing out the door in the morning? Do you wait until the last minute to complete a project? Are there times when you’re rushing around so much that you literally seem exhausted and out of breath? If so, that’s another telltale sign.
Some people are just naturally like this. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Give yourself more time to complete a project or travel from one location to another. Use calendar reminders to remind you of upcoming tasks or appointments. Plan ahead in advance, like prepping meals and your wardrobe so that your mornings aren’t as hectic.
4. Procrastination is a daily battle.
“Procrastination is something that most people have faced at some point in their lives,” Denna Ritchie writes in a Calendar article. “For some reason, we as humans struggle to avoid things that are unpleasant.”
“We delay the inevitable, especially when it’s unpalatable,” adds Ritchie. “And we even do the same procrastination techniques when there is an issue or event that is really important to us — even if it’s something critical. “
In fact, 20 percent of people have identified themselves as procrastinators. But, if this has become such an issue that it’s influencing your career and relationships, it’s time to make a change.
One way is to trick yourself into getting work done. You can achieve this by breaking large obstacles into smaller and more manageable pieces. You can start by tackling the parts of the project you enjoy doing to build momentum. And, make sure that you get to the cause of your procrastination. For example, is it because you glued to your smartphone? If so, move it to another room or turn it off.
5. Skipping breaks and eating at your desk is the norm.
You are not the Energizer bunny and keep going and going. You’re a human being that needs to periodically step away from work in order to clear your head, stretch, eat, or use the bathroom. That may sound counterproductive when you have such on your plate. But, these breaks are needed to recharge your batteries so that you have the focus and energy to tackle your priorities.
Related: 10 Time Management Tips That Work
Also, eating your lunch at your workplace isn’t just gross, it’s also unnecessary. You seriously can’t be that busy, right? If you are constantly slammed, be sure to block out in your calendar chunks of time for breaks and lunch.
6. You have serious multitasking aspirations.
Wouldn’t it be cool to be a hero like Superman or Spider-Man? You’re busy doing your work when suddenly you hear a scream or have your Spidy sense go off? You can instantly leap into action, save the day, and then seamlessly return to work.
Hate to be the bearer of bad news. But, you don’t possess superpowers. It’s particularity true when it comes to multitasking and switching between one task to another with ease. It may sound like a great way to save time. Unfortunately, the human brain just wasn’t made to multitask. And, it takes longer to complete tasks when you’re switching between them since you’re spreading your attention too thin.
The simple fix? Only focus on one thing at a time. Once completed, then you can go on patrol and save the world.
7. You don’t put yourself first.
“You need to be proactive instead of reactive to your calendar,” writes Craig Jarrow in Time Management Ninja. “Schedule your time first and only then accept appropriate requests from others.”
“If you make the mistake of not blocking your calendar in advance, you will find that it fills up entirely with other peoples’ priorities…not yours,” adds Jarrow.
8. Dealing with distractions and interruptions are not your forte.
It probably happens to you more then you realize. You’ve zeroed in on your work when you receive an email notification on your phone. There’s a knock on your door. Or, you’re setting in another pointless meeting.
While these are inevitable, those who succeed at time management are able to deal with these interruptions. They’ll put their phone on “Do Not Disturb” when they don’t want to be interrupted. They may politely ask a chatty co-worker if they can talk during lunch.
In dealing with distractions you can even adjust your scheduling accordingly. For example, not accepting meetings unless they serve a purpose or at least when they’re during an energy lull. If you work at home, you may plan to only work when the kids are at school.
9. You’re burnt to a crisp
If you feel stressed, anxious, irritable, and exhausted, then you’re probably burned out. While it’s normal to feel this way occasionally, it shouldn’t be the norm as it can have serve effects on your productivity and health.
Instead of waiting until you reach your wit’s end, take preemptive measures. Examples would be not taking on additional responsibilities when you’re at capacity and finding healthy ways to destress. And make it a point to take some time off. Even if you can’t leave town, at least have a staycation to rest and catch-up on your chores at home.
10. You waste too much time on non-sense.
Do you spend an excessive amount of time making decisions? Are you frequently trying to catch the nonexistent and mythical creature known as perfectionism?
Both are serious wastes of time and can zap your energy.
You can fight against indecisiveness by limiting the number of choices you have to make. As already mentioned, you could batch your meals for the week on Sunday. Now you aren’t spending time on what to eat.
As for being perfect. It just doesn’t exist. Do your best and move on.
11. You have no idea how much time is spent on each of your tasks.
One reason that people struggle with managing their time is that they over-and-underestimate how long something takes them. As a consequence, that could throw a monkey wrench into the entire schedule. If you set aside two hours for deep work, and it was closer to three, everything else you had planned gets pushed back an hour.
Track how you spend your time by using a time log or time tracking app. I would do this for a couple of weeks so that you have a more accurate estimation of things like the length of your commute, the time spent on social media or completing your most important tasks.
12. You’re busy, not productive.
Finally, are you putting in more time at work but don’t feel like you’ve accomplished much. It’s most likely because you’re busy and not productive.
You can avoid falling into this trap by identifying what’s important and necessary. It’s the best way to ensure that you are only spending your time on the things that bring you closer to your goals.
Other recommendations would be to optimize your organization, minimize distractions, and saying “yes” strategically. You should also surround yourself with productive people and track your progress to keep you motivated.