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The 11 time-management mistakes you're probably making, and how to fix them

Waking up early

You don't have to wake up early to be productive. 

Instead, you have to figure out when you have the most energy and focus during the day and complete your most important tasks then. It's all about working around your peak productivity.

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The 11 time-management mistakes you're probably making, and how to fix them

The 11 time-management mistakes you're probably making, and how to fix them

https://www.businessinsider.com/the-11-time-management-mistakes-youre-probably-making-2019-7

businessinsider.com

11

Key Ideas

Denying you have a problem

Stop saying that you don't have enough time to complete your commitments.

Admit that you need to get better at managing your time and start searching and trying techniques that will help you reach your goals.

Not planning your day

It's important to have an idea of what your daily priorities are and tasks you need to complete, preferably the night before. 

Also, make sure you prepare in the evening the outfit you're going to wear and the meals for the following day. Doing this will save time in the morning, and reduce decision fatigue.

"Urgent" vs "Important"

Take all of your tasks and place them into four quadrants:

  • To do first: the most important responsibilities that need to be done today or tomorrow.
  • Schedule: important tasks that are not urgent.
  • Delegate: essential items that are not important.
  • Don't do: tasks that aren't important or urgent. 

Improper delegation

You don't have to be doing everything — check your ego and delegate. 

For example, if you don't have a staff, outsource specific jobs to freelancers: hire a personal assistant to manage your calendar, email, social accounts or blog. 

Waking up early

You don't have to wake up early to be productive. 

Instead, you have to figure out when you have the most energy and focus during the day and complete your most important tasks then. It's all about working around your peak productivity.

Being inflexible

No matter how well planned you are, you will get interrupted. That's why it's crucial that your calendar has some flexibility. 

Being “perfect”

We all strive to deliver quality work, but constantly aiming for perfection is unrealistic.

Often the pressure we put on ourselves to "be perfect" leads us to pressure other people about their issues. It's not worth it.

Over-and-under committing time

It's not always easy to determine how long it will take you to finish a task — but usually, it takes longer than you think it will. 

Keep a time log for at least a week to see how you spend your time.

Cleaning your workspace daily

It's acceptable to have a little clutter around your workspace. This doesn't mean you have to leave food wrappings on your desk or never putting tools back to their place after using them.

If you don't have the time, then there's no need to stress yourself out about a small mess. Set aside a day per week to organize your space.

Working non-stop

Regardless of how much you have on your plate, everyone needs breaks to refocus and recharge.

Your break could be a 10-minute walk between tasks, but try to unplug completely during non-business hours.

Time management systems

Experiment with various time management techniques until you find the system that works best for you.

It will take some trial and error but until effectively manage your time, you'll constantly battle the clock.

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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 t...
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.

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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The Wild Procrastinator

You are indecisive and often deals with things in the nick of time. But procrastination has a physical and social toll as your body and your coworkers get stressed over it.

Solution...

The Perfectionist

You are obsessed with your idea of perfection and end up spending way too much time on a specific task. This leads to feelings of being overwhelmed, missed deadlines and delaying other priorities.

Solution: Make sure you have achievable standards that don’t get in the way. Train yourself to do things that fall short of your idea of perfection until you begin to accept that the “imperfect” but functional is enough for most things.

The Underestimator

You often miscalculate how long it will take to do something to the point of missing deadlines and having to reschedule.

Solution: Schedule more time than you expect to take to finish a task, learn how to work faster and to estimate time more accurately. Reviewing past assignments duration will give you good time estimates for future reference.

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Personal Productivity Curves

A lot of the internal things that affect our productivity are out of our control. Our energy, focus, and motivation follow their own path or “productivity curve” throughout the day. 

Energy curves

We’re naturally more energetic and motivated at specific times of the day. Researchers call this our Circadian Rhythm. Every person’s rhythm is slightly different, but the majority follow a similar pattern.

  • Waking up. Our energy levels start to naturally rise.
  • Around 10 am. We’ve hit our peak concentration levels that start to decline and dip between 1-3 pm.
  • Afternoon.  Our energy levels rise again until falling off again sometime between 9–11 pm.
90 Minute Cycles

We work best in natural cycles of 90-120 minute sessions before needing a break. When we need a break, our bodies send us signals, such as becoming hungry, sleepy, fidgeting, or losing focus.

If you ignore these signs and think you can just work through them, your body uses your reserve stores of energy to keep up. It means releasing stress hormones to give an extra kick of energy.

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Brian Tracy

Time management is not a peripheral activity or skill. It is the core skill upon which everything else in life de..."

Brian Tracy
Work Around Your Energy Levels

Productivity is directly related to your energy level.

Find your most productive hours — the time of your peak energy — and schedule Deep Work for those periods. Do low-value and low-energy tasks (also known as shallow work), such as responding to emails or unimportant meetings, in between those hours.

Plan Your Day the Night Before

Before going to bed, spend 5 minutes writing your to-do list for the next day. These tasks should help you move towards your professional and personal goals.

You’ll be better prepared mentally for the challenges ahead before waking up and there won’t be any room for procrastination in the morning. As a result, you’ll work faster and smoother than ever before.

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Writing helps your memory

When you take notes, you need to filter external information, summarize it in your head, and then write it down.

Your brain decides which pieces of information to hang onto for later, part...

To-do lists and calendars

Once you write down the tasks you need to perform, you then have to clear space in your day to put some of those tasks onto your calendar.

This calendar maintenance is itself a useful exercise for fighting the tide of interruptions you’re always facing. It pulls your brain out of a reactive mode and forces you to think about the long term. 

Planning your goals

Planning turns abstract goals into concrete work.

For most people, the challenge is making sure we get the big-picture projects done, those that make work fulfilling. And it's hard to achieve them without breaking them into a coherent set of concrete actions you can take on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Feeling less productive

Many people feel unable to find time in the day to do their most important work. Re...

Drains and Incompletions
  • Drains are the tasks you have to do (commuting, personal admin, email correspondence, meetings, calls). These tasks drain your time and energy that you want to spend on priority work.
  • Incompletions are the items on your to-do list that you have not yet completed. They are related to work and personal items (responding to a simple email, or it can be a dream you keep putting off).
Identify drains and incompletions

If you are spending your time, energy, and attention on tasks that don't support your overall goal or priorities, it's time to re-evaluate.

  • Set aside 20 minutes on your calendar and minimize distractions.
  • List all of your drains and incompletions. Write every last item you can think of, including the light bulb that needs replacing, and the conversation you need to have with a co-worker.

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Personal Operations Category
  • Task management. This one is most commonly taught and includes systems like Getting Things Done.
  • Knowledge management. This is embodied in systems like productivity educa...
What's on your plate

Prioritizing tasks at work involves getting all your tasks and commitments in one place.  Take a piece of paper and make a list of everything you need to get done. Questions to help you:

  • Do you have commitments to others like your boss, partner, kids, or clients?
  • Do you have anything you need to submit? 
  • Do you have any financial tasks that need to get done? 
  • Do you have any planning that needs to get done? 
  • Do you have any administrative tasks? Legal, insurance, staffing, or training?
  • Do you have any professional development tasks that need to get done? Training, areas to research, skills to develop, books to read or study, or classes to take?
Brainstorm your goals

Find your goals. Without them, it is impossible to prioritize your tasks. Try to set 90-day goals, which is long enough to make meaningful progress. Questions to prompt goals:

  • What’s the one thing you could do that makes everything else easier or unnecessary?
  • If you were giving advice to someone else in your position, what 1-3 things would you tell them to focus on?
  • What do you want to have accomplished over the next five years?

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Pacing yourself

Trying to get work done uses the same principle as running: You have to pace yourself. Runners that sprint at the beginning will be tired out long before they reach the finish line.

O...

The principle behind the To-Do List
  • At the end of the week, write a list with everything you want to get done.
  • At the end of the day, write a list containing what parts of that weekly list you want to be finished with tomorrow.

After you finish your daily list, you don't work on more projects or tasks. After you complete the weekly list, you're done for the week.

Advantages of using a WD system
  • A WD (Weekly/Daily) system manages your energy. You will get a maximum of work done while leaving yourself time to relax.
  • A WD system stops procrastination because your big projects become bite-sized tasks.
  • A WD system makes you proactive. With a bigger picture in mind, it's easier to put in the important but not urgent tasks.
  • A WD system keeps you from burning out since you only have to focus on the next bite.

one more idea

The Fireman

For you, every event is a crisis and there is always one. You have no time to deal with minor issues like time management, and they accumulate.

Solution: Plan your day and start...

The Over-Committer

You say yes to everything and have trouble setting boundaries, or if you a boss, setting boundaries on the behavior of others who report to you. You overwhelm yourself and that leads to difficulties in fulfilling all your commitments.

Solution: Understand that work-life balance is essential for your well being. Learn to say no and start doing it. 

The Aquarian

You have a borderline avoidant approach to work and your high sociability gets in the way of task management and productivity.

Solution: find ways to motivate yourself, avoid procrastination and don’t forget why you are working at something. 

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Time blocking
Time blocking

It's the practice of planning out every moment of your day in advance and dedicating specific time “blocks” for certain tasks and responsibilities.

When you fill your c...

Time blocking and focus

By scheduling every minute of your day you not only guard against distraction but also multiply your focus.

Also, focusing on one task at a time can make you up to 80% more productive than splitting your attention across multiple tasks.

Cons of the time blocking practice
  • It takes a lot of time and effort.
  • Few of us (if any) have the same schedule every day.
  • We’re bad at estimating how long tasks will take to do.
  • Constant interruptions and “urgent” tasks can destroy your system.
  • Flexibility is key in most workplaces.
  • You can lose sight of the bigger picture if you focus just on each day.

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