Behavior change is hard. No doubt about that. It’s easy to read books about time management and learn the different techniques. However, applying those techniques in your life is the real challenge. Most people don’t even get to the reading stage when it comes to time management. And when they do, 90% of them fail in implementing the things they’ve read. So what’s wrong ?
Usually, when we have a behavioral problem we tend to look outside looking for solutions. We forget that real and lasting change can only come from within. The problem isn’t that we need something new to try. But, there’s something wrong that we’re doing and holds us back.
Therefore, I’ll focus on this post on some of the common time management mistakes that people make when trying to manage their time.
MISTAKE #1: Focusing on Quick-Fix Techniques
People keep on trying whatever quick-fix technique they find hoping that this technique will suddenly change their lives. Unfortunately, this isn’t how things work. I really wish it was that simple.
The right way to establish a new habit (time management in this case) is to prepare yourself mentally by setting up a mindset that will feed every action of the process. Remember that change is done on your mind. So, you need to make sure that your mind is okay with the new habit that you’re trying to establish.
Stephen Covey explains, in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, that a real change is only achieved if we succeeded to erase the bad habit and replaced it with a good one.
For example, let’s assume that you hate using to-do lists. The quick-fix would be to force yourself to use a to-do list and see how things will turn out. The quick-fix focuses only on the technique itself and ignores everything that is related to the person’s psychology. Nevertheless, this might work for a short period of time. But, at a certain point you’ll stop using to-do lists. The reason is that you’re not convinced enough with the utility of to-do lists. So, your mind will keep rejecting the change because for it, using to-do lists, is still something strange and undesirable. It’s something that doesn’t go along with your philosophy and beliefs.
The best way to tackle this problem would be to determine the reasons why you hate to-do lists. If you succeeded in changing the way you see to-do lists, it will be a lot easier to start using them regularly.
It’s all about replacing a wrong idea (to-do lists suck) by a new one that is better (to-do lists are useful). Most of the time, replacing an idea by a new one isn’t easy at all. It’s the reason why most people fail in implementing self-development techniques because deep down they don’t actually believe in their utility.
MISTAKE #2: You Do Not Prioritize
We all want to do a lot of things with our time. It’s normal that we have many interests and we wanna give a portion of our time to each one of them. However, most of the time, it’s impossible to do that. It’s simply because there are so many things that we wanna do. But, there isn’t enough time. So, what should we do ?
The solution is that you need to learn how to prioritize. You need to develop a self-discipline that will reject everything that will just waste your time and has nothing to do with your live purpose, principles and goals. I know that this sounds like “work all the time and stop wasting your time on family, parties, hobbies,..”. Well, it’s nothing like that.
People who don’t prioritize end up doing so many things that they don’t wanna do. They spend their life trying to please others and get society’s approval. As a result, so much time is wasted on things that they shouldn’t be doing in the first place.
The idea of prioritizing is very simple. It’s to learn how to say “No” to things that aren’t compatible with your principles and goals. The things that you do just to get the approval of others. Or, the things that you do because everybody else in your neighborhood is doing them. Also, to prioritize isn’t to stop having some quality time with your family or friends. It’s not working 24/7.
If you ask me to define prioritizing in a few words. I’d definitely say “Do what you (not society nor your wife) think is best for you”. It will save you more time in your life to work on things that really matter to you. This way, you’ll move quickly towards your goals and you’ll have a bigger chance to achieve them.
MISTAKE #3: You Haven’t Set Your Goals
It’s near the impossible to try to organize your time when you don’t even know where would you like to be in a year. Or, where do you wanna be in 5 years from now.
Not having goals makes it impossible to prioritize. I said above that prioritizing is to do things that are compatible with your goals and principles. So, how can you filter those things if you don’t even have goals ?
Setting goals should be done before even thinking about how can I organize my time. After setting specific and clear goals, you’ll try to break each one of them down to small tasks. Ultimately, you’ll organize all the tasks in your schedule with a precise deadline to each one. Then, you start getting them done one by one until your reach your goal. It’s really that simple.
Having goals gives you a clear vision to work towards. They enable you to easily decide what are your priorities and the things that are worth spending your time on. So, if you still hasn’t decided yet what are your goals. You may wanna give yourself some time to think and figure out what do you wanna be in this life. And go from there !
MISTAKE #4: You Don’t Use a To-Do List
I know that you think that you can memorize all your tasks and duties in your mind. I used to think so either. I used to think that to-do lists are for nerds and stupid people who can’t memorize their tasks. However, as soon as the number of my tasks had become bigger, It became impossible for me to memorize all of them.
Also, I realized that the way I used to handle my tasks is not practical at all. Moreover, it affected my brain energy that was wasted in remembering tasks instead of getting them done. It’s really exhausting and it leaves you with a disturbed mind all the time. However, I don’t feel the same now. It’s really a great feeling to have all your tasks scheduled. It liberates your mind and help you stay focused by living in the present with no worries.
I know you’ve probably heard this like million times. To-do lists are the key to successful time management and you must use them. It’s doesn’t matter if you use mobile apps or a piece of paper. Do what you think is more practical. Do what you believe is best for you. But, make sure to carry your to-do list with you all the time in order to write down new tasks and assignments instantly. This way you’ll make sure you’re not missing anything.
MISTAKE #5: You’re a Big Procrastinator
Procrastination is simply the act of putting off tasks that you need to do now. It’s usually caused by the lack of belief in the impact of the task or due to the fear of failure. Actually, procrastination is far complicated than that and can be a result of other reasons.
To be a well-organized person you need to overcome procrastination first. If not, it will be near the impossible to follow your schedule and as a result you’ll end up behind the schedule. Your productivity will be at its lowest levels. Bottom line, procrastination ruin your time management and affects your outcome quality. It’s counter-productive habit that will ruin your life.
There are many methods and strategies to help you beat procrastination which I invite you to try. If you think that you have some procrastination issues, then work on eliminating them first. It will take some time and a strong will to finally do it, but it’s totally worth it.
You’ll feel a lot better when you’ll find yourself getting tasks done immediately without wasting time procrastinating. I think the feeling of getting things done and making progress towards our goals is the best feeling a person can have. It’s really outstanding !
So, those were some of the common time management mistakes that you need to be aware of. There are other mistakes which I didn’t mention in this post. But, these five are the basic reasons of the other mistakes that people still make when it comes to managing time.
Before ending this post, it’s necessary to point out that time management is a skill like writing or coding. Therefore, it will take some time to really become good at it. Just keep on trying to improve your way of managing time and you’ll get better at it. As the saying goes : “Practice makes perfect”.
Some Images Credits to PicJumbo