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Time Management - are you Trying to Do Too Much?

Time management - Are you trying to do too much?

Time management - Are you trying to do too much?

If you are having trouble with time management prioritisation and planning; then there are four main possible causes:

  1. There is too much to do.
  2. You are trying to do too much.
  3. You are not prioritising properly.
  4. You are not organised properly.

Let us examine each category in turn

There is too much to do

Here is a true statement: There is an infinite amount of work that could be done.

  1. There are more books than you can read in a lifetime of reading.
  2. There is more knowledge than you can learn.
  3. There are more problems than you solve.
  4. There are more opportunities than you can profit from.

Therefore; there is an infinite demand upon your time.
But as a single human being, you are a limited resource.
In any single day you only have so much to give:

In any single day you only have:

  • A limited amount of energy
  • A limited amount of enthusiasm
  • A limited amount of patience

If you are a limited resource facing an unlimited demand and you try to do everything for everyone, what will be the painful consequence?

  • Burnout!

Therefore: You must not try to do it all.

Why not?
Because you have limits;

You cannot get three pints into a one pint glass; No matter how hard you try and no matter how much you rearrange the molecules.
So recognise that there is always too much to do.
Recognise that you cannot do it all.

Therefore, you must not try to do it all.

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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.

Instead you need to do two things:

  1. Prioritise and do the most important things.
  2. Prioritise and NOT do the non-important things.

How do you prioritise and discover the most important things?

You prioritise by means of three criteria:

  1. Value
  2. Deadline
  3. Logical order

1. The value of the task is the measure of its importance

And note this: The importance of a task is a measure of its consequences.
Therefore; the value of a particular task is a function of its consequences.
A task is important if it has serious consequences associated to its completion or non-completion.
If there are only trivial consequences for not completing a task, then that task is not important


  • If you do not maintain your brakes on the car then there are enormous possible consequences.
  • If you do not maintain your garden flowers then there are not enormous consequences.

Therefore maintenance of your car breaks is more important than the maintenance of your garden flowers.
Prioritise according to value of the consequences.

2. Deadline

Deadline is the second criteria for making priority decisions.
Deadline is the measure of the time left available for the task to be completed.
The deadline may be imposed by others: e.g. HM revenue and customs impose deadlines for your Tax returns.
Deadlines may be self-imposed: e.g. you may want to have booked your holiday by the end of next month.

Learn to operate according to deadlines.

Ask people to give you the date by which they want things.
Give other people your deadlines. To communicate deadlines, use this phrase "Ideally I would like that by XXXXX. Can you do it by XXXXX?"

Prioritise things by value and deadline pressure

Your goal is always to be operating ahead of the deadline.

You need to have things done and dusted, before they are needed.

  • You need to prepare the meeting before the meeting.
  • You need to do your study months before the exam.
  • You need to finish the decorating weeks before the prospect sees the house.
  • You need to look after your health months before the bacterium invades.
  • You need to prepare your important presentation days before you start your presentation.

3. Prioritise according to logical order

There is an OPTIMUM order to most things. And that order can be discerned using logic.
An example of this is called the travelling salesman Problem:

The travelling salesman Problem

A traveling salesman has to travel through seven cities, in such a way that the expenses on traveling are minimized. Problem: To find the optimal solution you have to figure out the most efficient order from all possible routes that exist between the seven cities.

For over a century this one question has exercised the minds of the greatest mathematical brains in the world. (Mathematicians love this kind of problem).

Here is the point: think about the optimum logical order.

  1. When you pack your suitcases into the car- think about the optimum logical order.
  2. When you are running errands in town - think about the optimum logical order.
  3. When you are organising your to do list- think about the optimum logical order.


When prioritising, most people make the same mistake; the mistake is this:
They prioritise according to their mood


Sam says "I should write that email to Mr Johnson this morning. But I am not in the mood right now, so I will do it tomorrow (maybe)".

George says "I should do it now, I could do it now, but I am not in the mood right now, so I'll leave it"

This is called procrastination

  • Procrastination is the common mistake of not doing what you know you should do because you are not in the mood.
  • Procrastination is not doing what you know you should, because you would rather do something else more pleasurable.
  • Procrastination is not doing what you know you should do because you are too afraid.
  • Procrastination is not doing what you know you should, because you feeling too lazy.

Procrastination is a major cause of failure.

Adopt this motto:
I will operate according to my plan - not my mood.

Second Warning

Many of us are not sufficiently organised. Your time management problems could be caused by the fact that you are not properly organised.

That improper organisation could be on different levels.

  1. Level one the business as a whole is not well organised.
  2. Level two the department is not well organised.
  3. Level three the team is not well organised.
  4. Level four you are not well organised.

We define "Organised" as: A measure of the degree of purposeful order and logical integration that exists between the various components of a system that cause the system to operate to produce the maximum output with the minimum expenditure of energy, time and money.

In order to achieve this organised state you should look at the business as a whole, the departments, the team and each person as an individual.

Ask yourself these searching questions:

  1. Do we produce the maximum value in the minimum time?
  2. Do we waste any time, if yes in what ways could we improve?
  3. Do we waste money, if yes; in what ways could we improve?
  4. Are there any things that we do that duplicates our energy and effort? If yes, in what ways could we improve?
  5. Is the organisation operating as an integrated system or are there blockages in the flow of information and ideas? If yes, in what ways could we improve?

Remember that your primary task is to make sure that you are doing your bit right.
Do all you can, to ensure that you add the maximum value with the minimum expenditure of energy, time and money?

Ensure that you prioritise by means of three criteria:

  1. Value
  2. Deadline
  3. Optimum Logical order

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

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About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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