Sometimes we’re not as proactive as we would like to be. Maybe you’re waiting for some extra cash before committing to a home repair or business expansion. Perhaps you’re still gathering data before entering a new market.
Both of those examples are understandable. But, turning a blind eye certainly is not. Yet, I feel that sometime, waiting around for something — is one of the biggest problems when it comes to time management. After all, don’t you still wake-up every day, go to work and cross-off items on your list? I’m sure that you do. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re getting the most out of your time.
Take meetings as an example. While necessary sometimes, do you really need to round-up your team for an hour just for status updates? You could have used project management software or asked in an email instead — which would have saved everyone a ton of time.
So, how can you find out if you’re struggling with time management? You can use the following 13 warning signs to answer that question.
1. “No” isn’t in your vocabulary.
Warren Buffett has famously said,“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
I get that you don’t want to offend others or miss out on opportunities. However, if you want to reclaim your time, then you need to master the art of saying no. And, you can start by rejecting:
- Tasks that can be automated or outsourced.
- Actions that do not align with your version.
- Distractions think smartphone notifications and unnecessary meetings.
- Unhealthy habits.
- Anything that you don’t have control over.
2. You’re constantly rushing.
Do you find yourself frantically running out the door every morning? Are you jumping from one meeting to the next? Are you just bulldozing your way through your to-do-list?
If so, then you clearly haven’t properly planned out your time. If you did, then you would wake-up earlier so that you’re at work on time. You would have spaced out your meetings. And, you take breaks in-between tasks to recharge.
As Akiroq Brost said, “Don’t be in such a rush to reach a goal, that you reach the goal before you are ready. Sometimes, we learn such valuable lessons along the way. Sometimes, we learn more about ourselves and discover that we actually want something different. Put your heart into what you do, but don’t rush. Good things take time.”
3. You believe that one-size-fits-all.
In order to solve our time management problems, we may turn to the latest tool that promises to help us finally take back control of our lives. Here’s why that doesn’t work. These solutions were built by developers who were solving their own time management problems.
What that means is that not all solutions will work for you. We all have different work styles, ultradian rhythms, and motivations. That’s why you should try to find tools that help you solve your specific time management struggle. For example, if scheduling is a thorn in your side, then you don’t need to download an app like Focus Keeper. Instead, you need a scheduling tool like Calendar.
4. Procrastination is the norm.
We all struggle with procrastination at some point. Sometimes, however, that’s not always a bad thing. There’s actually some research that shows it can be used to motivate you and eliminate unnecessary tasks.
When this becomes too frequent though, that can be disastrous as it leads to stress and falling behind on your work. But, what does this have to do with time management?
Sometimes, we fall into the urgency trap. Or, we do more enjoyable tasks ahead of more challenging work. One way around this is to find out when you’re most productive and then schedule your most important or difficult tasks first in your day. It’s an effective way to build momentum and work around your energy levels.
What if that doesn’t work? Then you need to get to the root cause so that you can take the appropriate steps.
5. You’ve earned a bad reputation.
I’m talking about not being political, missing deadlines, forgetting tasks, and not keeping your word. No one wants to deal with someone who has such a bad reputation — both personally and professionally.
Before making a commitment, double-check your availability. Also, be real on how much you can get done with the time you have. For instance, if you’ve already RSVPed to a virtual meeting at 1 PM, then don’t accept another video call at 1:30. You really won’t have time to make it to the second event if the first one ends at 1:25.
6. You’re indecisive.
“Not making a decision is the worst thing you can do,” Bo Schembechler wrote in Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership. “So long as you feel you made the right decision based on the information you had at that time, there’s no need to fret about it. If it fails, you’ll know what to do next time.”
It’s true. Being indecisive creates bottlenecks. Take having a lunch meeting with your team. All the attendees selected what they wanted to eat. But, you’re going back and forth. 20-minutes later you make your final decision. As a result, you have a hungry audience who now have to sit in the meeting longer than expected.
7. Perfectionism reigns the day.
You should always put your best feet forward. But, trying to be perfect is just a fool’s errand. The reason is quite simple. Perfectionism doesn’t exist. Even worse, it can lead to anxiety, missed deadlines, and fracture relationships since you’re wasting other people’s time.
Instead, you need to think done instead of perfect.
I know. That may sound too simplistic. But, one simple technique would be to do something like writing a blog without proofreading. After you’re done writing, publish the piece. What you’ll notice is that the world kept on spinning. And, if someone pointed out a mistake, you can always go make and make edits. Better yet, you can become a better writer by learning from the mishap.
8. You aren’t delegating.
Entrepreneurs must come to terms with the fact that they can’t do everything on their own. I know that you have a healthy ego, and that can be useful. But, if there are tasks that you are weak at, or trivial, then hand them over to someone else.
Let’s say that you spend an hour on the phone with a customer service rep. Couldn’t that time have been better spent? Of course. That’s when you have an assistant do this for you. Another example would be trying to fix a leaky faucet. You spend hours viewing YouTube videos and running back and forth to the hardware store. While it might cost more, you could have just hired a plumber to quickly fix this problem.
9. There’s too much in your calendar.
Take a minute and review your calendar. Are there scheduling conflicts or back-to-back meetings? Do you have any time for yourself? Or, is it so jam-packed that it’s bursting at the seams? If so, then you’re overbooked.
Clearing your calendar can be difficult. But, it’s not impossible. For starters, stop filling it with minute actives. Build-in buffers between appointments. Question commitments that no longer fit into your schedule. And, stop accepting time requests that don’t serve a purpose.
10. Your health and well-being are suffering.
Do you always feel tired? Are you anxious or stressed? Have you gained weight? Or you indulging in unhealthy habits like eating junk and living a sedentary lifestyle?
If you’re experiencing any of the above, then these are all red flags that you’re health and well-being are in jeopardy. And, you have poor time management to thank.
For example, you’re sleep deprived because you’re playing catch-up on work. You eat fast food because it’s convenient. And, you don’t get enough physical activity because you’re “too busy.”
I can’t stress this enough. Your health should always be on your top priority. If not, then you’re negatively impacting all other facets of your life. One way to resolve this would be incorporating self-care into your routine.
11. You have poorly defined goals.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem,” said Zig Ziglar. “We all have twenty-four hour days.” In other words, you’re failing at time management because you haven’t set clearly defined goals.
So, how can you set and reach your goals? James Clear writes that it’s not about the results you want. It’s being “willing to accept the sacrifices required to achieve your goal.”
That’s all well and good. But, how can you set goals you’ll actually follow? Clear uses the following three strategies:
- Overcome goal competition. That’s just another way of saying that you need to reorganize your priorities “to prune away a few of our goals.” When you do, you’ll be able to focus on one important thing at a time.
- Stack your goals. Clear calls this “habit stacking.” He fills in the sentence, “After/Before [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT],” to accomplish this.
- Set an upper bound. As opposed to thinking “about the minimum threshold we want to hit,” he recommends pushing yourself enough to make progress.
12. You don’t spend enough time doing the things you love.
When was the last time you had dinner with your family or hung out with your friends? Have you recently read a book or engaged in a hobby? Or, how long has it been since you daydreamed or skipped out of town?
If you can’t recall, then you aren’t spending enough time on your priorities. Maybe you’re focused on being busy instead of being productive or wasting your time on unimportant activities. Whatever the case, take a step back and identify your main priorities in life and then add them to your calendar before anything else.
13. Clocking in overtime.
Are you working around the clock but still feel like you’re not getting things done? In my opinion, this is the most obvious sign that your time management skills are lacking.
To be fair though, there will be times when this is necessary — like when handling an emergency or launching a new product or service. But, if this is a common occurrence, then you’ve problems.
It’s been found that working long hours can literally kill you. And, according to to a study from Stanford, discovered that productivity per hour declines after working more than 50 hours a week. After 55 hours, productivity plummets so much that clocking-in any more hours is just pointless.
How can you work less? Well, revisit the suggestions already laid out for previous symptoms. Examples would be learning how to say “no,” prioritize, delegate, and embracing downtime.
John Hall is the co-founder of Calendar a scheduling and time management app. He’s also a keynote speaker that you can book at http://www.johnhallspeaking.com.