Solid time management habits don’t come easily to everyone. Ultimately, however, how we organise our time can determine whether or not we’re successful. It’s definitely important to avoid behaviours that consistently doom your entire schedule or prevent you from getting important work done.
Here are 13 ways that unsuccessful people mismanage their time:
1. They don’t plan ahead
Schedules are for trains and uptight people, right? You can tell yourself that you’ve got everything under control, casually cruising around and getting everything done without a planner.
Yeah, no. Scheduling is crucial. It allows you to plan out, record, and prioritise everything you need to get done.
Without a schedule, you’ll probably end up wasting a ton of time and forgetting some important stuff.
2. They don’t jot things down
This one kind of goes hand in hand with scheduling.
Basically, write stuff down! Record what you’re planning to do, what you’ve done, and what you haven’t gotten around to doing yet. Doesn’t matter if you write on your phone, calendar, or planner — whatever works for you.
3. They get distracted easily
Spontaneity’s a charming quality. Sometimes, it’s even a helpful trait — allowing you to stay flexible in the face of unexpected obstacles, take advantage of unforeseen opportunities, and live a generally interesting life.
However, if your sense of spontaneity morphs into a state of constant distraction, that’s a problem.
Unsuccessful people are unable to focus on the task at hand, leading to some pretty terrible time management decisions.
You know you have a problem when you see a picture of a cute penguin and the next thing you know you’ve wasted an entire day looking at baby animals on Pinterest (not that I’ve ever done that).
4. They procrastinate
Most people procrastinate from time to time. It’s usually harmless.
Chronic procrastination, however, is a whole other story. You’re basically mired — constantly putting tasks off and telling yourself that you’ll get to them eventually.
If that sounds like you, it’s important to find a way to motivate yourself and manage your time better.
5. They don’t have rituals
No, I don’t mean weird cultish rituals (although, you know, you do you). I mean positive habits that motivate you throughout the day. From your first cup of coffee in the morning, to some evening yoga, these little activities keep you on track.
6. They don’t plan fun time
I’m not trying to sound like a cheesy “inspirational” Instagram post, but can you really be successful if your life is empty? I guess so, but what’s the point?
It’s important to schedule fun activities — emphasis on the schedule. If you’re a busy person and you don’t lock down specific times for gallivanting, you’ll probably end up skipping.
Unsuccessful people may achieve short term success by overworking themselves, but in the long run they risk burnout and unhappiness.
7. They forget about weekends
Make a schedule for Saturday and Sunday, even if your only plan is to sit around watching “Ancient Aliens” in your underwear.
Scheduling weekends will allow you to critically examine your time, so you’ll be able to squeeze in as much relaxation as possible, as well as complete important tasks and plan fun activities.
8. They don’t set goals
What’s your main objective today? This week? This month?
Having goals keeps you on track. Even if you don’t fulfil all of them on schedule (stuff happens), you’re at least working toward something.
9. They can’t prioritise
Prioritising is important. You do it in your job, your money, and your personal life.
It’s also critical when it comes to your time. If you don’t prioritise, you risk spending all your time on busy work, while bigger tasks fall through the cracks.
When planning your schedule, label each activity as either crucialoroptional.
That way, if you have to make cuts to your to-do-list, you know what should go on the chopping block first.
10. They juggle too much
Stretching yourself too thin almost guarantees bad time management. Don’t over-commit yourself when planning out your time.
Think things through — do you really have the emotional energy to get drinks with different friends every night this week? Are you underestimating the amount of time it will take you to get from point A to point B? Are you feasibly able to simultaneously manage so many different projects at work?
If your gut reaction to the sheer amount of activities on your schedule is dread, then it’s time to scale back. Otherwise you’ll end up dropping some balls.
11. They burn themselves out
When you picture someone who’s terrible at time management, you might envision a lazy person wasting away on a couch.
In reality, disorganized people come in many different forms.
Some people take on too much. Some people procrastinate and then scramble to complete things at the last minute. Some people work at an unsustainable rate.
One thing that all of these people share is the potential for burning out.
Unsuccessful people typically end up exhausted by their own poor management choices. That’s why, if you recognise some of these behaviours in yourself, it’s important to find a fix.
12. They spend too much time in front of a screen
In this digital age, oftentimes your job will require you to spend hours in front of a computer every day. However, that doesn’t mean you should be needlessly scrolling through Twitter in your free time. As Laura Vanderkam writes, too much social media can leave your brain feeling “fried” by the evening. Instead of wasting time on social media, use that extra time to read a book or start a side hustle.
13. They rush through things
Sometimes, in the rush to get things done and be productive, we end up just making more work for ourselves down the road. Instead of hurrying through your tasks, slow down, stop multitasking, and take the time to get it right. As Craig Jarrow writes on his blog Time Management Ninja, rushing will just leave you with “a half-done job.”
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