6 Poor Time Management Habits—and How to Break Them

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March 3, 2022 Updated: March 3, 2022

We’re all given the same 24 hours a day. But why do some people seem to get so much more done than others? If you’re constantly missing deadlines, appointments, or rushing your deliverables, it may be time to reassess your time management habits.

Most people don’t get formal training on managing their time. And while a standard base level education would be ideal, that’s not reality. If your habits could use a revamp, consider these six poor time management behaviors and how to finally fix them for good.

1. Not Planning Ahead

If you’re constantly winging it, now is the time to stop. Heading into any facet of life without a plan is a recipe for disaster. So whether you’re approaching your workday, a vacation, or even a weekend at home, a plan is essential.

Having a plan doesn’t mean that you have to be rigid. A plan can simply give you guidance and the ability to think before you act. Take time each evening to review the next day’s tasks and responsibilities. Review your calendar or schedule to see if there are any specific due dates or goals to consider. In the morning, you’ll already have a head start on your day, simply because you’ve planned.

2. Staying Too Connected to Tech

Pings, alerts, and interruptions are all too familiar with our over-connected ways. Riddled with distractions, business essentials like phone and email often damage your time efficiency. Review your digital device habits and see if you can change your habits to improve your time management.

Consider putting off checking email until a scheduled time. Instead, place your phone on the charger in do-not-disturb mode while you’re working on your top priorities. Then, check-in with your phone’s usage reports to identify your weak spots and change your habits accordingly.

3. Saying “Yes” Too Often

It feels great to be wanted and needed, especially at work. But when you shift from being an in-demand expert to a prolific people-pleaser, it can be hard to deliver. Instead, work toward saying yes to the things that matter.

Resist the urge to say yes to requests right away. Instead, ask questions about the opportunity, log details, and grasp the time commitment required. Then, make a practice of getting back to the requestor after you confirm your availability and interest. Your interest level in a project often influences your effectiveness and productivity, so be picky when you can.

change the habit
(Nataliya Vaitkevich/Pexels)

4. Going Time-Blind

We all overestimate how quickly we can get things done. Are you convinced that you can commute in 20 minutes when Google says it takes 30? If you often cut your timing short, it’s a sign that you need to re-examine your timing reality.

Start by timing your tasks to assign an average to your usual activities. Then, consider potential variables that may come along. Once you’ve identified trends, use these factors when you plan out your day or commit to deadlines. Use timers and alarms to help you identify the passage of time, especially when tasks are contingent on one another. With repeated effort, you’ll refine your timing trends and be able to deliver on your promises.

5. Simple Procrastination

You don’t want to do it, but you have to. Some necessary tasks just suck the life, and the motivation, out of you. But for it to get done, you have to find the motivation. Whether you’re avoiding your dirty bathroom or your quarterly financial report, both tasks aren’t going to do themselves.

Tackle your least favorite tasks head-on by committing to doing them first. When you do the most challenging, most unenjoyable job first, every task afterward seems even easier. So schedule your day around accomplishing unpleasant tasks as priority number one. After a few rounds of this approach, it will seem less daunting as you’ve built up a successful track record.

6. Keeping a Disorganized Workspace

Some people claim to thrive in chaos, but it can be hard to prioritize or focus on distracting surroundings. Loose paper, errant notepads, and food items are easy to lose hold of during a busy day. Identify your clutter hotspots and plan to address them that can be maintained.

If paper clutter is a challenge, use an inbox to give it a home. Hand-written notes can quickly get out of hand, primarily if you work in a creative field. Practice documenting your notes in an organized manner and toss the original. Commit to using your workspace only for work to reduce unnecessary clutter and distraction. Doing so can help you maintain focus when you identify your desk space as a work-only zone.

Break Your Bad Habits for Good

Breaking any bad habit is hard work. It takes commitment, consistency, and willpower. Experts say that it takes about 66 days to establish any new habit. So when you’re revamping your time management techniques, allow yourself the grace of a 90-day probationary period.

Identify three tactics you’d like to incorporate into your routine. Any more, and you may get overwhelmed and abandon the effort altogether. Prioritize your newfound habits, even on busy days, and review your progress at the end of each 30-day mark. At the end of your 90-day journey, you’ll be doing more than you thought possible with those precious 24 hours.

By Angela Ruth

Calendar
Tips, advice, news—your central resource to help you start, run, and grow your business. https://www.calendar.com/blog