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The Most Common Time Management Mistakes

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Posted 27 January 2012 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with the development of your time management skills training.

Common time management mistakes and how to fix them

Although we are all unique individuals, we are all members of the species homo-sapiens, so we are all more similar than different.
We have a tendency to repeat the same mistakes.

And because these errors are shared by most other people around us, we take these errors for granted; we treat them as "normal behaviour" and carry on making the same mistakes day in, day out.

But remember that normal behaviour is not necessarily 'good behaviour'.
And that by definition, excellence is not the normal, everyday, common standard.
So to be better than the average, you will need to identify the common errors and eliminate them.

What are the most common and most destructive time management errors?

Here they are:

  1. Failing to plan ahead
  2. Being too easily distracted
  3. Putting off distasteful tasks
  4. Making too many careless mistakes caused by a failure to concentrate
  5. Untidiness/ disorderly working methods
  6. Failure to prioritize

Here are the notes on each...

1. Failing to plan ahead

You have a fundamental alternative: To work according to a plan or not.

If you don't work according to a plan then you will be forced to work in an unplanned manner: thus you'll be driven by circumstances and by those other people who do have a plan.

This would make you less effective than you would otherwise be, if you did have a plan.

Decide to become an incessant planner:

  1. Plan your days
  2. Plan your evenings
  3. Plan your schedule
  4. Plan your presentations
  5. Plan your next move

Don't wing it.
Plan it!

2. Being too easily distracted

Most people are easily distracted off the task they are on.

Example
Task 1 causes Susan to ring person 1 who reminds her to do task 2.
So she starts on task 2; which requires that she opens the filing cabinet.
In the filing cabinet she sees task 3 which means she must call person 2 who asks for the plans for task 4
Task 4 causes Susan to go downstairs where she bumps into john who tells her she has forgotten task 5.........etc. etc. etc.

Susan spreads her efforts so thinly across many tasks that she can make only small dribbles of progress on any one of them.

She would be better served if she disciplined herself to focus more intently on a smaller number of tasks and made good progress on three of them rather than poor progress on seven.

Discipline yourself to focus more intently on a smaller number of tasks and made good progress on each rather, than spreading your efforts so thinly across so many tasks that you make only small dribbles of progress on any one.

3. Putting off distasteful tasks

Many people put off the tasks that they don't like, because they are distasteful.
The number of distasteful tasks increases and they build up to form a smelly crisis.
This makes the tasks even more distasteful and triggers even more procrastination.

  • The lawns are left until they are almost impossible to cut.
  • The homework is left until it is too late.
  • The maintenance is ignored until the machinery breaks down

Do you ever neglect the issue and thus create another crisis?

Hear this:
Never procrastinate
Operate according to your plan not your mood.

4. Making careless mistakes caused by a failure to concentrate

Losing your concentration and as a result, doing it wrong.

This is a common time management mistake.

Look at the time that is wasted mopping up the mess that results from a mistake caused by a momentary loss of concentration.\
Ask Captain Francesco Schettino, the reckless and apparently cowardly captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia.
One lapse of concentration on his part and his career is in ruins, a nation is shamed, an industry is blighted and lives are lost!
Hero to villain in less than one hour.

This was not a very good use of his time.

As the philosopher Ayn Rand said it:
"In any hour and issue of your life, you are free to think or to evade that effort.
But you are not free to escape from your nature, from the fact that thought is your means of survival- so that for you, the question 'to be or not to be' is the question 'to think' or 'not to think' "

  • Don't guess
  • Do it right first time

5. Untidiness disorderly working methods

Effectiveness requires that you work in an organised manner.
Organisation implies that things are in their correct location.
That requires that you put things back in the right place.
That requires that you don't drop things down anywhere; that you put the screw driver and the hammer back in their proper place.

Untidiness and disorganisation is a common cause of time wasting and error:

  1. Time wasted looking for lost items.
  2. Errors when misplaced information cannot be found.

Impose order on chaos

  • Tidy up as you go
  • Put it back in the correct place, first time

Time Management Training

Time Management Training

Most people feel they need help with time management. How can you get more done in the same amount of time? How can you stop other people wasting your time? If you want to know how, then click here to find out more about our time management training course.

6. Failure to prioritize

You can't do it all in one day
So you can only do some of it.

Which means that you must be able to rank tasks according to:

  1. Their value
  2. Their urgency

That gives four types of tasks

  1. High value and late tasks - must do today
  2. High value and not late tasks - must do within two days
  3. Not high value but late tasks - don't get caught up on these
  4. Not high value and not late - gossip and office politics - a squalid waste of your time

Learn to focus the lion's share of your efforts on types 1 and 2 work

Not on type 3 and 4

Prioritise your efforts

For more information about time management training visit the Corporate Coach Group website

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