It may be tempting to blame others when we feel crunched for time. The reality is that how we spend or waste time is of our own choosing. You can certainly choose to binge-watch TV all day instead of working on that assignment. That’s all you, and no one else.
Learning how to manage your time doesn’t happen overnight. It may be a lengthy process that involves tracking your time, developing new habits, and lots of trial and error. The first step to take in understanding your time management style is getting to know yourself better. This discovery about yourself helps you identify the behaviors and patterns you have that are preventing you from properly managing your time.
Since self-evaluation is never an easy task, here are six common time management personality types. When you see the one kind of personality that best describes you — you’ll be able to start finding solutions to better time management.
1. The Firefighter.
Are you the type of person who runs towards a crisis while others are fleeing? Do you rush from fire-to-fire while glued to your phone? And, do loathe wasting time? If this type of rushing sounds like you, then you’re a firefighter personality.
Firefighters usually have a Type A Personality, which is a perk when involved with risk-taking. At the same time, having such a strong sense of urgency can negatively influence time management.
“From this perspective, ‘now’ is the only time that exists,” Doctors Friedman and Rosenman told Dr. Travis Bradberry in a previous Entrepreneur article. “There’s no sense in putting something off until another time. While beginning right away on any job is often a good thing, we may tend to give minor issues a greater sense of urgency than they deserve.”
Solution: Identify and prioritize your tasks by urgency and importance.
When everything feels like a “crisis,” it can cause you some personal difficulty. One of the most effective techniques to achieve balance for the firefighter is by using the “Eisenhower Matrix.” The so-called Eisenhower Matrix is a strategy is where you identify and organize your tasks into four different categories:
- Urgent and vital (tasks that need your attention immediately).
- Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule for later).
- Urgent, but not important (tasks that can be delegated).
- Neither urgent or essential (these tasks can even be eliminated, if you wish to get rid of them).
Using this strategy to put our tasks into categories will help you stay focused on completing your highest priorities before working on other items that are not as important.
2. The Multitasker.
I’ve been known to have a phone call and write a draft for an article at the same. Some of my colleagues look at me in disbelief. I used to be what you would call a multitasker. Through the years I have learned that you can’t be an effective multitasker. Multitasking is a myth.
Multitaskers believe they can juggle multiple things at once. They honestly believe that they can seamlessly bounce from task-to-task quickly and cross-off items on their to-do-list faster. Trying to multitask leads to many incomplete tasks, many mistakes, and more than likely less will be accomplished.
The solution: Single-tasking.
Make sure that you give each task your full-attention and drill down on that job before moving on to something else. Set aside specific blocks of time for essential functions. During these blocks of time, eliminate distractions by turning off your phone and notifications and ask others not to disturb you.
3. The Over-Committer.
The over-committer type personality is the person who doesn’t know how to say “no” to others — and they have trouble establishing boundaries. As a result, they are continually putting other people’s priorities ahead of their own. All anyone has to do is ask if them if they have a minute to talk, attend a social function, or help them with a project and their onboard.
Besides not having the time to attend to their commitments, these over-committers are going to burn themselves out from stress and exhaustion. There’s only so much a person can do in a day. If a person is bouncing from commitment to commitment without catching their breath, they will crash and burn.
Solution: Stop saying “yes.”
Even though some factors are out of your control, most time management issues are self-imposed. To counter this tendency, identify what’s important in your life — at home and work. Then consider what’s important before accepting any request. In other words, if these requests don’t align with your goals and priorities, then say “no.” You’ll quickly notice that you’ll have more time to focus on your preferences.
4. The Underestimator.
Are your famous last words “this will only take a minute.” Next thing you know, you’ve just spent several hours on something that you thought would only take you under an hour to complete.
At first this underestimating may not seem like the end of the world. Eventually, however, underestimating postpones or pushes back each commitment you have planned. Now you’re missing deadlines, asking others to reschedule their calendar to accommodate you — and you’ll always playing catch-up.
Solution: Realize that things take longer than planned.
Let’s say that you wanted to write a short blog post and expect to be done in an hour. Block out two hours instead of one on your calendar. By blocking out extra time for each task, you’ll usually have more than enough time to write that post.
If you still have an issue with not getting your work done in the allotted timeframe, you’ll need to do a combination of learning how to speed up your work and learn how to estimate more accurately.
If you find that you are always getting your work done early, use that extra time to your advantage. Catch-up on your emails, organize your work-space, meditate, begin learning a new skill. You may feel fulfilled by getting a jump on your next task.
Professional hint: review past assignments, time logs, and calendars to analyze approximately how long a particular job has taken in the past for these types of specific tasks.
5. The Perfectionist.
There is a big difference between giving a 110 percent and being compulsive about how you cross every “t'” and dot each “i.” Eventually, because you’re obsessed with perfection, you’ll end up spending way too much time on a specific task. Similar to the under-estimators, you start missing deadlines and delaying other priorities.
Perfectionists don’t merely struggle with time management — they also experience feelings of being burned-out mentally and emotionally exhausted.
The solution: Overcome your perfectionism.
Overcoming perfectionism is easier said than done. Research has suggested that perfectionism is possible by taking the following steps:
- Reevaluate your standards. Are your standards too high? Can you, and others, meet these standards? Do your rules help you achieve your goals or are they getting in your way? If you can say, “yes” to any of these statements, start setting more realistic goals and easing up on your self-limiting standards.
- Use “hypothesis testing.” Hypothesis testing sounds more complicated than it will be. One example would be to write a blog post or email without proofreading the content. Did the world come to an end? Nope. If there was a negative consequence, you could learn from that specific mistake.
- Challenge your perfectionist thoughts. Just become aware of your perfectionist thoughts, develop alternative views, compare them with reality, and then select a realistic perspective.
- Face your fears. If you’re the type of person who can’t leave for work unless you’re dressed immaculately, then take a Saturday and leave your home like you just rolled out of bed. Over time, you’ll train your brain to handle this uncomfortable situation.
6. The Wild Procrastinator.
Are you indecisive or get a thrill out of pushing things off until the 11th hour?
Regardless of the reason, procrastinators wait until the last minute to get things done. They even go so far as to say that this is beneficial. Some procrastinators claim that working under pressure makes them more efficient, reduces unnecessary efforts, and gives you more time to develop ideas. It also doesn’t tie you down to scheduling every second of your calendar. However, there are significant costs to procrastination.
As noted in Psychology Today, procrastination can lead to weakened immune systems and insomnia. More troubling, “[procrastination] shifts the burden of responsibilities onto others, who become resentful.” Having coworkers being angry at you is not ideal if teamwork is a part of your company’s culture. Procrastination can also damage your personal relationships.
The solution: Get started by working in small chunks.
For most of us, the hardest part of any job is just getting started. When beginning a project, sit down and block out a small chunk of time — even if it’s only 15 minutes. Once you get going, you’ll find that you don’t want to stop. Forcing yourself to start — thereby solving procrastinating is something called the Zeigarnik Effect. The so-called Zeigarniik Effect states that not finishing a task creates mental tension and the only way to alleviate the anxiety is by completing what you started.