11 time-wasting habits that are hard to quit, but you’ll be glad you did

Man working cafe coffee computer laptop phone multitasking career
Multitasking is actually quite inefficient. mimagephotography/Shutterstock

We’re all running out of time. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. That’s just life.

However, if you feel like your inability to schedule your days is ruining your performance at work, that’s probably a bad sign.

It’s important to identify and drop harmful time-wasting tendencies before they seriously mess up your career.

Here are 11 awful time management habits that are tricky to quit — but you’ll thank yourself once you do:

1. Multitasking

Contrary to what you might think, multitasking doesn’t boost your productivity.

It slows you down, causes dumb mistakes, dries up your creativity and takes you out of the moment.

It’s easy to trap yourself into this work style by convincing yourself that you’re being hyper-efficient. However, the evidence just isn’t there.

2. Procrastination

I’ll tell you all about how easy it is to procrastinate … later.

Seriously though, this is probably one of the hardest bad habits to quit, but it’s possible to break free of procrastination’s stranglehold on your precious time.

3. Neglecting deadlines

Maybe you’re just so talented that your boss begrudgingly accepts your tardy work. Maybe you’re just in a very chill work environment.

Either way, flaunting deadlines is a terrible habit to get into. One of these days, you’ll cross a deadline that really wasn’t meant to be crossed.

If this sounds like you, it’s important to start managing your boss’s expectations — or, you know, just start respecting deadlines.

4. Inability to streamline

You have a scheduling system, but it’s scattered to the four winds. Literally.

You write your notes from the big conference on your laptop, your work deadlines pop up on your phone, you have a planner for meetings, and you scrawl to-do notes on random notes you stick around your computer.

In our chaotic, technology-heavy world, this is an easy trap to stumble into. It’s crucial to make the effort to streamline your life a bit — otherwise, you risk becoming disorganized and discombobulated.

5. Never saying no

Your time is precious. Defend it. Guard it fiercely! Don’t get suckered into wasting time on trivial things that don’t matter to you.

Try to stick up for your time and become less of a yes man. This can be difficult if you’re a bit of a pushover, but it’s necessary if you’re going to fix your terrible time management habits.

6. Not setting goals

Yeah, yeah the beauty’s in the journey, but if you have no clue about your destination, you’re probably just going to get yourself lost. It can a bit daunting to sit down and outline all this, but think of it this way: without short and long term goals, you have no foundation to build your schedule upon.

7. Failing to ‘eat a frog’

No, eating an actual frog won’t help your time management skills. This just refers to Mark Twain’s famous quote: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Eat your live frog first thing in the morning. Get all the tasks you’ve been dreading done first. That will jump start your productivity for the rest of the day.

8. Forgetting that perfect is the enemy of good

It’s a cliché but it’s true: perfect is the enemy of the good. You’ve got to let go of your perfectionist tendencies if you’re going to succeed at revamping your time management tendencies.

Perfectionists spend all their time trying to make each project perfect. The end result is a snail-like pace and aggravation for everyone involved.

Perfectionism is a hard tendency to drop, but it’s important to realise that this is a trait that can kill, rather than boost, your career.

9. Burning yourself out

You’re addicted to being busy. You’re juggling your job, your side job, your side hustle, and your personal life — sooner or later, you’re going to drop something and the whole routine’s going to come crashing down.

Burn out is terrible. Stop killing yourself trying to do everything and start focusing on doing a handful of things very well.

10. Failing to prioritise

You might fall into this trap if you rely too much on to do lists. Certain tasks are more deserving of your time and attention than others. Unless you’re carefully ranking each item on your list, you risk lacking priorities throughout the day. Lack of priorities puts you at risk for cutting through busy work while ignoring truly important projects.

11. Forgetting to write things down

You might feel too busy and stressed to have time to keep track of what you’ve been up to. However, if you’re going to manage your time properly, you’ve got to keep records. You don’t actually have to write things down on paper — using an app to manage your time is great too. You just need to find some way to hold yourself accountable and stay organised.

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