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12 Time Management Mistakes That Set You Up for Failure

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/333170

entrepreneur.com

12 Time Management Mistakes That Set You Up for Failure
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Time management is all the rage these days, and it's easy to understand why. Most people, and particularly entrepreneurs, are working themselves to the bone. It's been found that 70 percent of us work beyond "office hours" and into the weekends.

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There isn’t enough time

There isn’t enough time
Complaining that you don’t have enough time is not getting to the root problem. It may be that you’re lousy at time management. Admit to yourself that there is enough time -- you just don’t know how to get the most out of it. Now, you can start improving your time management.

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A one size fits all solution

Instead of relying on a tool with all the bells and whistles, find out where you’re struggling and what’s essential for you. 

For example, if scheduling is taking you away from product development, then you could use a scheduling tool that uses machine learning to automate most of your scheduling needs. If you’re wasting too much time on email, then consider using a tool to help tame your inbox.

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Less anxiety

Less anxiety

Time management is only useful when you’re aware of your limitations and don't let the system dictate your entire life. 

In other words, when you don’t tread lightly (especially at first), time management can add more stress to your life.

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Time needed for specific tasks

When you set a time limit on certain things that have to be done, this can motivate you to get get them down within that period. However, sometimes it’s just not possible, and you have underestimated the actual time this task takes you to complete.

Track your time for a couple of weeks. Jot down your daily activities and calculate how long each will take and see if you are realistic.

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Focusing on time management

... instead of task management.

Task management is more effective than time management because these tasks come with clear limits which make them easier to manage. You know when you’ve started work on a project -- and you know when you’ve completed the job. It’s one limited thing at a time.

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Grabbing the low hanging fruit

Just because you get a bunch done doesn’t mean your time was spent or focused where you would be making the best progress.

To be the most effective -- don’t pick the "low-hanging fruit," meaning the easiest. Devote your energy to your most important priorities which work will provide you with the most production.

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Having to wake up early

Having to wake up early

If you get up early -- you can't stay up all night. You have to have a bedtime schedule -- and stick with the routine. 

If you’re not a morning person, then don’t force yourself to change. Instead, base your schedule around your specific ultradian rhythms.

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Reducing your workload

Thanks to Parkinson’s Law, if we have availability in our schedule, then we’re going to fill it up. You may have cranked out your most important tasks for the day, but, now you’re just going to add even more items to your calendar or to-do list so that there aren’t any blank spaces.

Follow the 80/20 productivity rule. Instead of loading up on even more work, use those open slots to meditate, daydream, or add flexibility to your schedule.

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Get everything done

There’s a misconception that if you get as much work done as quickly as possible, you’ll be more effective and productive. This notion that you've done more only works temporarily before you burn yourself out. 

Working through lunch, putting in 60-hour workweeks, and never taking a vacation will only go so far. You need to pace yourself and take breaks to rest and recharge.

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Never waste your time

Never waste your time

It’s okay to waste time now and then. That doesn’t mean binge-watching Netflix. 

Instead of working all day -- take some time to read, listen to a podcast, exercise, or catch-up with an old friend or colleague. It may sound counterproductive. But, wasting time can be an asset preventing burn out. 

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Not taking control

Start saying “no” more often. If you say “yes” to every request of your time, you’re not only spreading yourself too thin -- allowing other people’s priorities to get ahead of your own.

Set boundaries on when it’s time to work and when it’s not. If you already have plans, don’t try to commit to something else in addition to what’s already in your calendar.

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Over-scheduling doesn’t work

it leads us to starve for more time to do everything we need to do. As a consequence, we begin to:

  • Hate the things that we used to enjoy.
  • Miss out on quality time with ...

Scheduling fewer tasks

People who schedule fewer tasks get more done. It forces you to prioritize what’s most important.

Also, scheduling back-to-back items in your calendar doesn’t account for the unexpected. Emergencies will always pop up and if your calendar is packed too tightly, you won’t have the flexibility to handle a crisis without completely trashing your calendar for the foreseeable future.

Say “yes” to less

Instead of accepting every invite or request for help, be more selective so that you’re not spreading yourself too thin. 

The easiest way to do this is by only saying “yes” to the things that excite you or that serve a purpose.

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Ignore your inbox when you wake up

Responding to emails as soon as you receive a notification gives others the impression that you’re at their beck and call. It also prevents you from reflecting on your own priorities for...

Empty your inbox daily

  • Do. If the email is actionable and takes under two minutes, then do the task ASAP.
  • Delegate. Forward the right tasks to the right people.
  • Defer. Reply to the message at a better time.
  • Delete emails that are not important or that you can delegate. 
  • File. Add messages that contain information you will need to your archives.

Stop CC’ing everyone

To avoid filling the email box of staff members, only CC the relevant parties. Ask your team to respond to you individually instead of using the reply-to-all button.

Don't waste valuable energy

Don't waste valuable energy

We can't waste valuable energy on mindless activities while putting off what matters most for later.

In business, wasting energy means working on low-value tasks, and thinking b...

Cut out the optional

Being overwhelmed may be the new normal, but taking on too many responsibilities may be watering down our overall impact.

Bring back your focus to what matters most. Work on the projects that are the real game-changers. Delegate the discretionary work and eliminate unnecessary meetings.

Design an action plan

Running a thriving business means understanding how to organize your work by importance and knowing when to delegate.

  • Find your sweet spot. When you consider taking on a project, see if it aligns with your purpose and the organization's broader goals. Ask yourself if you're the right person with the right skillset.
  • Automate. As your company grows, use automation tools for low-level work. It also allows your employees to make more meaningful contributions.
  • Set boundaries. Learn to say no to low-level tasks. Set your own limits about what you'll take on.