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Time Management - Three Common Problems

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Posted 17 March 2010 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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We offer both:
• Bespoke in-house training.
These can be tailored to your specific needs.
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You may find the following will help with the development of your time management skills training.

Three common time management problems

When I run time management courses I learn what problems are common to many people
Then I think about what we might do to improve on the situation.
When it comes to time management, there are three very common problems that are shared by almost every busy person.
Let us list them and solve them one by one:

Three common time management problems are:

  1. Butterfly mind
  2. Starting too many tasks
  3. Distractions

1. Butterfly mind

The butterfly mind is a mind that attempts to flit from one idea to another without staying long enough on any one idea to make progress.

Like a butterfly going from flower to flower, never settling on any one.

The result is that the person has time only to gather a few ideas and information relating to task A, before they notice task B and start immediately to think about task B. Thinking about task B reminds them about task C and they go to make a phone call relating to C. During the conversation the other person on the phone brings up task D and so on......

The person spends his day thus, with NO progress being made.
The solution is very simple and requires no magic.
When you have decided to do task A, take an A4 sheet of paper and write TASK A on it.
"Check the details and if correct, pay the invoice to Jones LTD"

Start the job.

Ten minutes later, you might find there is a discrepancy between what you are supposed to be doing and what you are doing.
You are now checking the insurance bill to direct line!
Slap your wrists and get back to the task A written on the paper.
Keep going till you have done all you can on A

Then take the paper, throw it in the bin.

Pick up a second sheet of paper and write "task B". Put that where you must see it.
Keep going through your list and do your best to do only the thing that is written before your eyes.

2. Solution to the "Starting too many tasks" problem

Starting too many tasks is similar to butterfly mind but it differs in that it has intent. ie it no accident.

John, who tarts too many tasks, does so because he is over optimistic about how much he can do.

When he says "yes" to a task, he does not really think through the time commitment that entails, and so says "yes" to too many things.

Consequently he:

  • Buys more books than he can possibly read
  • Commits to more people that he can see
  • Sells more benefits that can be built into the device
  • Makes promises to his wife he connote keep


The solution is to ask yourself:
Being realistic and taking into account setbacks, how long will this task take me to do?
For example: calculate out how many hours this book will take to read. Give yourself time to think.

This book is a four sixteen commitment!

Or "This visit means a three hour journey time"

The suggestion here is: keep yourself from saying "yes"

To too much
For too many

3. Distractions

Solutions to the distractions problem

Distractions are environmental influences that take your mind off your task

They could be:

  • Noise
  • Heat
  • Other people conversations

The simplest way to avoid distractions is to:

  1. Remove yourself from them
  2. Remove them

1. Remove yourself

With technology as it is today, it is often possible to find alternative location for your work.

For example I could be writing this on my lap top in the other room.

I don't have to be at my desk here.

Often, I do go somewhere where I will not be distracted.

So the suggestion is:

Pick your place of work carefully

2. Remove the distraction

If you are cold, put a coat on.
If they are noisy, ask them to go somewhere else!
If it is draughty, shut the door.

Don't be too polite and put up with distractions.
Do whatever it takes to regain an environment conducive to concentration

Option 2: Change the time of working

Nothing lasts forever.
So no environmental influence will not last forever.
Maybe you can wait until the noisy event has finished before you start your work.
This may be a good idea, BUT this is the least favoured option because it causes you to delay.
Be careful.


When it comes to time management there are common problems that are shared by almost every busy person.

Your challenge is to list them and solve them one by one.

For more information about Time Management Training visit the Corporate Coach Group website

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