First, you’ll need to identify what type of time manager you are. Then you can go about breaking the bad habits you may have. To help you get started, here is a short guide to four of the most common “problem styles” for time management, and how you can become more efficient at organising your time.
How to solve the most common problems caused by poor time management
We’ve all been stuck in the traffic, or our alarm didn’t go off for some reason. We’re human and accidents happen, but being constantly late is something different. It’s disrespectful to others and their time.
As Anna Musson, the etiquette expert, told The Huffington Post Australia, “There are a multitude of reasons as to why [someone is late], but the overriding reason is it suggests deep down you think your time is more valuable than others.”
If you happen to miss deadlines often, you should try to figure out why – the most common reasons are procrastination, being unable to organize your time effectively, or because you should delegate and outsource more.
Burnout shows itself in a variety of symptoms: from physical (shortness of breath, dizziness, weakened immune system, among others) to emotional and behavioral (mental exhaustion, loss of motivation, feeling helpless and trapped, etc).
The procrastinator finds that they are unable to meet deadlines because they often put off doing things, maybe without good reason. If questioned about it, they may say they are waiting for the right time or they need to be in the right mood to start.
They often underestimate the amount of work required, so can also give unrealistic time estimates. These people often claim that they work best whilst under pressure (which of course they create in the first place by leaving things for so long).
Breaking the habit
If this applies to you, you should learn to manage any reluctance to do certain tasks, since this will make you postpone your work for no reason. Also, take time to think about how long each job will take you, and what else you do in the meantime: this will bring home any need to get started more quickly. Understand why you are doing things, then focus on taking action rather than maybe waiting for things to fall in place.
A key to breaking the habit of procrastination is to focus on other people when doing tasks that impact others. If you’re working with somebody on something, and you leave your portion until the last possible moment, it does not leave them sufficient time to add their contribution. Rather, focus on providing them with as much time as possible. Consider the person that has two jobs to do, both of equal importance. The one differentiation is that the one job only needs your input, while the other job requires input from somebody else. The simple solution is then to focus on the job that involves somebody else. Doing that job first gives them more time, and then you can still focus on the second job.
This works just as well at home as it does at work. For example, you have two jobs to do. One involves washing something, the other is to go out and purchase groceries. You need to perform both tasks today. However, the purchasing groceries job has an element that impacts somebody else. Another family member cannot start preparing the next meal until you have returned with the groceries. So choosing to do that job first allows you to give the other person more time.
The Easily Distracted
According to leading behavioural psychologists, modern humans have a steadily shrinking attention span. These days, it’s reported that we can’t focus on one thing for up to the 9 seconds often ascribed to a gold fish. (We believe that to be quite a bit too harsh, but it makes the point.)
With technology at our fingertips, we are nevertheless losing our ability to maintain focus, and it affects many aspects of our lives. In the workplace, easily distracted employees have time management issues, often starting their projects strongly, but failing to complete them on time. They are frequently people who get bored easily and attempt to overcome this with multi-tasking. This rarely works, and is usually counter-productive, so will lead to missed deadlines.
Breaking the habit
The most effective technique is to stop trying to multi-task. Our brains are simply not wired to focus and refocus effectively within short periods of time. If you find that you are easily distracted, focus on finishing off one job before moving onto another. By doing this, you’ll get more done with less stress as you are not pulled in so many directions at the same time.
In addition to stop trying to multi-task, massive gains can be made simply by removing distractions where possible. You can close the door to your office should you need to, or put up a Do Not Disturb sign.