Time Management – Top 10 Time-Wasting Mistakes

“I wish I had more time!”

This is rapidly becoming the top complaint I hear from almost everyone I meet. Time seems to have replaced money as our most desired resource.

The good news is that you can reclaim hours a day from time-wasting habits and activities. Start by identifying which of the ten most common time management mistakes you make most often:

  1. Not setting clear, specific, time-bound goals–and then reviewing them regularly. You can’t hit a target if you don’t have a target to hit.
  2. Not having a plan or strategy to achieve your goals. As they say, any path is fine if you don’t know where you’re going.
  3. Ignoring important areas of your life simply because they are not in crisis. Neglect costs more time down the road than simple maintenance along the way.
  4. Letting short-term emergencies and instant gratification activities consume your time instead of investing some of it in longer-term activities like building relationships, long-range planning, and caring for your physical and mental health.
  5. Being disorganized. This might seem obvious, but many people don’t realize just how much time they waste looking for things.
  6. Not taking time for rest and rejuvenation. The wise woodcutter always takes time to sharpen his saw.
  7. Thinking that good time management will limit your creativity and freedom. Freedom must co-exist with structure. Life without structure is chaos.
  8. Not delegating–or simply refusing–low-value demands on your time.
  9. Forgetting to ask yourself, “Do I even want to spend my time doing this, and if so why?”
  10. Using a daily to-do list as your primary planning tool. To-do lists tend not to discriminate between the important and the unimportant. Even prioritized to-do lists don’t do more than emphasize the most urgent tasks. Important things like exercising, spending quality time with your family, or nurturing business relationships rarely ever make it onto the to-do list.

Don’t try to correct all your time management mistakes at once. Instead, start with the one you struggle with most often. Focus on changing that one, because that will give you the greatest initial benefit. Once you’re seeing progress there, move on to your second most common time management mistake. And so on.

Before you can expect the latest time management gadget or organizer to solve your time management problem, you must first identify and eliminate each one of these ten most common time management mistakes.

Copyright 2006 Curtis G. Schmitt

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