Poor Time Management: A Ticking Time Bomb
Managing your time ineffectively can impact your health and wellness in many ways. The results of poor time management include (but not limited to) feelings of despair, failure, anxiety – and can contribute to fatigue, chronic stress, low productivity, and slow advancement in the workplace. Healthy and successful people tend to be good time managers.
What can time management do for you? To answer that question, let’s look at a typical cause-and-effect sequence that occurs when one manages their time appropriately. Effective time managers generally feel good about what they accomplish – which gives them a sense of control – which leads to positive feelings about themselves – which improves self-esteem – which results in higher levels of energy, motivation, and less stress. Not a bad sequence of events. But time management is a discipline you have to work at developing. It is a matter of choice; but, you must practice the steps necessary to become a good time manager.
- The first step of time management is to establish your priorities in life. Make a list of the most important things in your life. Your list might include such things as family, health, and career. There is no right or wrong list of priorities, but your list does need to be written down. Keep this list accessible and visible so that you can review it daily. Reviewing this list on a daily basis can help you stay focused on the most critical issues in your life and increase the likelihood that you will invest time into these priorities.
Developing a mindset of time management is the second step. You must convince yourself that you can become an organized and effective time manager. Remember, you were not born disorganized. Being disorganized is a learned habit – it is now time for you to learn a set of new habits. What follows is a list of activities and techniques that can help you become a good time manager as well as develop a mindset of effective time management.
Learn to say “no.” There is a finite amount of time available. Why waste so much of that time on trivial tasks that are not priorities for you? Stop taking on more and more tasks that are not vital. At appropriate times, learn to say “no.”
- Put Pen to Paper. After reviewing your list of priorities (as described earlier), create a list of daily or weekly activities that need to be accomplished. For each activity, develop a plan-of-action that includes a definition of the goal (what is going to be done), the steps necessary to accomplish the goal (the plan), and a timeline for each step (a sense of urgency).
- Focus On the Most Logical “Next” Step. People tend to focus solely on the big picture – or the long-range goal. By doing this, the task at hand can appear insurmountable and actually scare people away from even attempting to achieve the goal. A better plan is to determine what is the next thing you need to do in order to keep moving along your plan-of-action. Concentrate your efforts on that step until it is completed. Now, what is the next step?
- Do One Thing at a Time, Do It Well, and Do It to Completion. Taking on too many tasks can lead to poor work quality, a slowed rate of completion, and a reduced feeling of satisfaction when the jobs are completed. Spreading yourself too thin does not help anyone.
- Start At the Top. We generally procrastinate about the projects that require the most time, energy, and effort. But it is these issues that when completed give us the greatest amount of satisfaction. Start with the most pressing issues (level of importance and closest deadline) on your “To Do” list. Develop a plan-of-action and start working on them today.
- Do Something Everyday. For the major projects/issues you are currently working on, do something (no matter how small) everyday to help you complete this task. By doing something everyday, you will keep moving toward your goal, as well as, keep this issue in the forefront of your mind.
- Schedule Time for Yourself. Regular breaks during any time-consuming task will increase productivity. Even breaks as short as 10 minutes can help recharge our “jets”, maintain your focus, and help you be more productive.