“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Mistake #1: Not Setting Time Limits on Tasks
Some tasks can go over time by quite a lot. For example, let’s say you’re formatting a book to the Kindle format. At first, you might think it’s a piece of cake. But looking into it further, you realize there are all kinds of intricacies to the formatting process.
If you don’t have a time limit, you could easily spend hours and hours on the task, which detracts from your ability to get other things done.
For tasks that could go over time, set a strict time limit. At the end of the time, schedule another time to work on the task, but don’t let it take over your work day.
Mistake #2: Ignoring Not Urgent but Important Tasks
It’s easy to focus your attention on things that are urgent. For example, if the company’s server goes down, that’s extremely urgent and calls for everyone’s attention.
But people tend to ignore things that are important, but not urgent. For example, planning your ten-year goals. Or researching your next marketing tactic. Or networking with potential mentors. These tasks are important, but have no deadline.
Make sure to schedule some time for these tasks.
Mistake #3: Blaming Yourself When It’s Your Schedule
If you always feel like you’re not getting enough done, or if you’re regularly late on tasks, there’s a good chance it’s not your fault. It’s not you lacking in competence, nor your commitment. Instead, you may just have an unrealistically packed schedule.
Learn to say no to requests. Don’t stuff more into your schedule than you can realistically achieve.
Mistake #4: Thinking Busy Means Efficient
There’s a big difference between doing a lot of things and getting a lot done. People often force themselves to constantly be busy, even if they aren’t achieving a whole lot with all the commotion.
Focus instead on high leverage activities. Learn to delegate. Get as much done as possible by looking at your actual end results, not on how much time you spend working on a problem.
Mistake #5: Too Much Time in Meetings
Do you ever feel like you spend far too much time in meetings where not much gets accomplished? Chances are, you’re right.
In any given meeting, try to get clear on the purpose of the meeting. When the meeting starts, go straight for that purpose. Avoid chatting about topics that aren’t relevant. Everyone should leave the meeting with a clear sense of what they’re responsible for.
If timely meetings become a regular issue, set a time limit for your meetings.
If you avoid these five time management mistakes, you’ll likely be more efficient than the majority of your co-workers.