We make up to-do lists trying to stick to the schedule no matter what. But no matter how we try, there will be new urgent tasks anyway. The list is getting longer, and we cannot escape the feeling that time just slips out of the hands. So let’s see what mistakes we often make and how to manage time wisely.
1. We do not set priorities
Of course a to-do list is an effective way to sort out what needs to be done. However, if you do not set priorities, the most important thing may simply drop out of sight. You have to understand the direction, the purpose of the activity, rather than jump from one task to another. Incorrect prioritization can tell a lot about the current working environment.
Many people working in a team feel uncomfortable when their boss or colleagues ask them to do something: they put off their current jobs, do not prioritize, and then cannot keep up with their schedule. Therefore, if you are planning your day, week or month, ask yourself, what problem is the most important to you at this time.
It often turns out that working on an important task occupies all your thoughts and gradually leads to procrastination because it usually requires serious mental effort and total focus. It is more tempting to fulfill small five-minute tasks all day long, rather than be involved in one big challenge that eventually brings greater results.
2. We overestimate ourselves
Overestimation is a known sin in time management. It is when you think that the task will take not more than a couple of minutes, but it eats up at least half an hour. To avoid this situation, write down how much time you are going to spend on it before you begin.
If the task takes 25-30 minutes, be sure to place it on the schedule.
Another tip: think twice how long the task can actually take.
If you are sure that it is a 30-minute task, allot an hour for it in your schedule, just in case. Otherwise, you can become one of those poor workaholics that pull all-nighters.
At the beginning of the day, make a 10-minute check of your schedule. It’s a fact: 10-minute planning in the morning will save you an hour during the working day. However, do not overstuff your schedule, do not forget to leave free time for new and/or unexpected tasks.
3. We get distracted
Scattered attention is the main cause of procrastination. We are mostly distracted by social networks and e-mail. To avoid this, be sure to turn off notifications of incoming messages when you’re trying to focus on the task, or you can specify an interval for notifications, for example every three hours. Then you will not be distracted by emails every two minutes.
There is another great way: allocate a special time in your schedule to work with incoming mail. To be constantly checking mail means to give it insufficient attention: you quickly view messages and quickly send a response, which is often inaccurate and contains misspellings. Apologizing and re-explaining what you actually had in mind is an unjustified waste of time, which could have been avoided.
A mess can also be distracting. Scattered paper folders and stationery, notes that are lost in this mess… Make it a rule to tidy the table at the end of the week and ruthlessly get rid of useless papers.
4. We believe that we do not need to count the time spent on the tasks
There are two ways to free up some time: to ignore new tasks or rationalize the use of time. However, until you start to monitor how much time is spent on a particular activity, you do not know which method is right for you.
For a week or two, try to note the time you spend on fulfilling work tasks. This will help to see and analyze how you spend the time and to avoid mistakes in the future.
Are you constantly interrupted by phone calls or knocks at the door? You spend too much time on the Web or check e-mail too often? See how much time is wasted on these unproductive things and either ignore or limit them.
5. We believe in multitasking
Experts on time management repeat unanimously: there is no such a thing as multitasking. What is commonly referred to by the term “multitasking” is, in fact, tossing from one task to another, and there is nothing good about it.
For better results, you need to focus on one task, set a timer, and work only on this task during the time designated.
Say it like a mantra: “Right now, I will complete this task”, and you will not jump from one task to another.