Whether you realize it or not, time management plays a huge role in how successful you are in life. For starters, it can reduce stress, allows you to prioritize what’s most important, and improves your reputation. Time management also helps you make the right decisions, eliminates wasted time, and gives you the freedom to do the things that you truly enjoy in life.
Here’s the thing. Just because you have a full calendar and receive daily reminders doesn’t mean that you’re effectively managing your time. It just means that you’re busy and not necessarily spending your days as productive as they should be.
But, how can you tell that you need to adjust your time management game? Here are 11 symptoms of poor time management to let you know and how you can cure them.
1. Poor punctuality.
Sure. There are times when something out of control, like getting a flat tire, causes us to run late. However, that’s not the same as having the reputation of being that person who is never on-time.
This may not seem like a big deal. But, it actually shows that you’re not respectful of other people’s time. “Essentially, running late is very poor manners,” etiquette expert and founder of The Good Manners Company, Anna Musson, told The Huffington Post Australia.
“There are a multitude of reasons as to why, but the overriding reason is it suggests deep down you think your time is more valuable than others’.” Musson also explains that during “the Victorian times, there were often six-course dinners all perfectly timed according to wine and service.” That meant if someone was late, “it could throw out the whole evening.”
Besides being disrespectful, tardiness also costs money and lowers productivity in the workplace. For example, even if you just ran five-minutes late to a meeting, that means all of the participants are just sitting there waiting for instead of doing more important work.
There are several ways that you can change this behavior. But, Musson suggests that one of the first things to do is to pretend that anything you have scheduled starts 30-minutes earlier. So, if a meeting begins at three P.M., schedule it in your calendar for 2:30.
2. Constant rushing.
Do you feel like you jumping from one thing to another without being able to catch your breath? If so, that’s another red flag regarding your time management.
Like running late, sometimes this is unavoidable, like if you got caught in a traffic jam on the way to a meeting. However, most of the time it’s because you’re either waiting until the last minute or overextending yourself.
To rectify this, be more realistic with how much you can do in a day — tracking your time for a couple of weeks can help you with this. After that, you should know how much you can get done in a day so that you aren’t planning to do more than you can.
Also, schedule buffers between calendar entries. This means if you have a meeting that ends at 1:30 PM, you would schedule the next one at 2 PM or later so that you aren’t immediately going from one meeting to the next.
3. Decreased quality of work.
You might not realize this as a business owner or leader. But, if it’s been brought to your attention that your work has been sloppy as of late, then that’s another sign to be aware since it shows that you’re rushing just to complete a task.
The only way you’ll become aware of this is to solicit feedback from others. For example, before submitting an article to Entrepreneur, I always have a teammate look through the piece to make sure it’s acceptable. If they notice a pattern of poor writing, I expect them to bring this to my attention. I may have been too busy with other work and write the pieces too quickly. Knowing the team member will let me know if I’m off somewhere, leaves me free to keep my mind clear. Also, I can make sure not to repeat the same errors in the future.
4. Frequently missing deadlines.
I don’t know about you. But, I hate missing deadlines. Personally, I feel that it shows that you are unreliable. And, if that’s the case, then you can be certain that customers and clients will take their business elsewhere to more reliable businesses.
There are actually a number of reasons why this may be the case. But, a lot of the time it’s because you’re either dragging your feet and just have too much on your hands. Again, be real with how much you can get done in a day. Also, learn how to say “no” to time requests if you’re already working at full capacity. You can also learn to outsource better. And, try to build your schedule around when you’re most productive.
5. Inability to set and achieve goals.
Goals help us identify our priorities. They give us direction and motivation. And, most importantly, they give everything we do a purpose.
But, do feel that a majority of what you do lacks a purpose? Or, do you feel that you’ll never be able to achieve the goals that you have set? If so, it may be because you haven’t taken the time to set and achieve goals that are SMART — which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
I’ve alluded to this a couple of times. But, procrastination is one of the most glaring signs that you have a time management issue.
To be fair, some people actually thrive waiting until the last minute to complete important work. In fact, it even feels good to procrastinate. But, it’s definitely something that is not recommended. After all, studies have found that it can lead to anxiety, stress, and depression. If kept up, it can eventually impact your physical health as well.
Kicking your procrastination habit isn’t always easy. But, the first place to start is to figure out why you’re procrastinating. From there, you can find the best way to stop waiting until the last minute. For example, instead of focusing on your most important activity for the day in the afternoon, block out time in the morning for it since this is when we have the most concentration and energy.
7. Easily distracted.
I get it. The workplace is full of distractions. But, if you constantly let them interfere with your work, then expect consequences like running late, rushing, missing deadlines, and procrastination. You can also forget about reaching any of the goals you set as well — whether they’re SMART or not.
The first step is to identify your biggest distractions. After that, you can eliminate them. For instance, if your smartphone interrupts you every time you receive a notification, then either turn it off or put it on silent.
Another symptom of poor time management is overextension. This is where you take on too much work or make too many commitments. For example, if you’re already spending more than 40 hours per week working for the clients that you already have, why would take on even more clients? Or, if next Thursday already has three meetings in your calendar, then you probably don’t have time for a fourth.
Again, be realistic with what you can get done in a day. If you already have a full plate, then don’t add anything else. Instead, schedule it for another time when you do have the availability.
Let’s be honest here. Multitasking does not work. However, when you’re strapped for time, you may try to do the impossible and do more than one thing at a time.
Instead of multitasking, focus on thing at a time. Once that is done, then move on to what’s next. It may not sound like an effective. But, single-tasking is much more effective and time-efficient.
10. Unhealthy habits.
Who has time to sleep, eat healthy, or exercise when there are so many other things that need to get done? Hopefully, we all do. After all, neglecting your health because think that you don’t have time is never a good thing and can result in a wide range of productivity and health concerns.
Make getting 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep a priority. When taking a break between work, go for a walk or do some exercises in your office. And, skip the junk food by preparing your meals for the week on Sunday afternoons.
Finally, if you aren’t managing your time the right way, then you’ll eventually get burned out. As a consequence, you’re putting your career and health in jeopardy. The reason? You’re working yourself to the bone just to play catch-up. Eventually, you aren’t sleeping, eating garbage, and so stressed that you’re making yourself sick. This can then lead to diminished work, relationship problems, and lowered creativity.
Schedule frequent breaks throughout the workday. And, most importantly, spend time away from work so that you can enjoy your life. That means when you’re spending time with your family during dinner or a weekend excursion you aren’t preoccupied with work, such as responding to emails or phone calls.