Time Management, are you good at it?

Poor time management cause stress and affects your performance.

Are you an effective time manager?  Before you answer, remember that being busy is not the same as being effective.  Effectiveness is getting the right things done.  However, if you are busy doing things that are not a priority, you are not using your time wisely.  Time management is a coveted skill, especially in this time and age where technology provides the means to be connected all the time.  Therefore, it is easy to get distracted and get off from your day plan.  

How do you know if you have poor performance administrating your time?  Here are some symptoms to help you decide if you are good at it or not.

Five symptoms of poor time management

The quality of your work is not what you would like it to be

As you climb the corporate ladder or your business grows, you have more responsibilities.  Future growth depends on your performance, which is highly influenced by your time management skills.  When you fail at this skill, it will show in different ways.  Some examples are being late for meetings all the time, lack of preparation for meetings, too many emails in your inbox, mistakes or incomplete tasks, and missing deadlines.   

That is not what you want other people to see about you or your work.  Therefore, you need to identify what is causing this situation.  Some possible causes are poorly defined goals, not prioritizing your tasks and the absence of a schedule.  

You are angry, frustrated, or impatient all the time

If you feel stressed, anxious, or fatigue frequently, maybe it is because you are angry, frustrated, or impatient most of the time.  Those negative feelings consume your energy and affect how you performed throughout the day.  Meanwhile, your lack of energy and difficulties in concentrating will force you to work overtime or not take breaks. As a result, the next day, you will be more tired, angry, and impatient.

Sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself or give yourself too little time to complete a task. When that happens, you will not complete it as projected and will be frustrated.  This symptom can be caused by poor or lack of planning.  Likewise, can be a problem of execution or not following the plan.

Procrastination is common practice for you

There is a saying in my country that says, do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today.  Although some people thrive waiting until the last minute to complete important work, it is not recommended.  There are many studies that link procrastination with high levels of stress.  If procrastination is a habit for you, stop putting things off.  Learn why you wait until the last minute.  For example, some reasons are that you don’t like that task, or you are doing a less important job first.

Rush through things to accomplish more

If you decide what to do based on the deadlines of the work in front of you, chances are you are rushing through things to finish on time.  As a result, you end up multitasking, which is not a time management solution.  Management by crisis or rushing leads to mistakes and details overlooking, which affects the quality of your work.   

You do everything by yourself

Many entrepreneurs or managers feel that they need to do everything to make sure that things are well done.  I understand that it is nerve-racking, but it does not have to be that way.  First, when something comes up, there is no need to do it immediately.  You would make a note, revisit your tasks for the day, and assign a priority.  The only exception is if the situation is a real emergency.   Second, start to delegate some tasks to your team.  Use the opportunity to coach and develop the skills of your team. Finally, do not say yes to every assignment thrown your way.  Stop taking too much work and be realistic about how much you can accomplish.  Don’t be afraid to say no.

Do you use your time effectively?  

Remember that being effective is about completing the right things, not about doing many things.  In conclusion, you have to set clear goals, have a strategy to accomplish them, and create a daily schedule that would take you closer to the objective.  Also, find ways to keep your focus during the day.  Avoid distractions and unhealthy habits, like smoking.  

With good time management, you will improve the quality of your job, and your mood will be better. Similarly, your relationships will be better because you should have more time to enjoy yourself with your loved ones.

Is multitasking effective to increase productivity?

Multitasking is a common strategy to try to deliver tasks on time. Do you know what the number one excuse to not complete something on time is? Yes, you guessed it, it’s a lack of time. Time management skills are critical for personal and professional success. Single parents and entrepreneurs are among those who need time management super skills.

The way you handle time determines whether or not you complete all the tasks you have scheduled. Being organized is one of those skills that help to manage your time better. Most people think that multitasking is an ability that helps to increase productivity but is not.

What science says about multitasking

People who multitask decrease their productivity by 20-40% and are less efficient than those who focus on one project at a time. Time lost switching among tasks increases the complexity of the tasks (University of Michigan)

Research in neuroscience tells us that the brain doesn’t do more than one task at a time. Each time we move from one thing to another, there is a start-stop process in the brain. In other words, each time you change tasks, you have to refocus your brain and determine what to do. Multitasking should be called switch-tasking and does not help productivity. For better time management, try the following things.

Skills you need to master time management

  1. Organization
    • Practice 5S in your office or work area
    • Organize your meetings and tasks throughout the day. Meetings are better early during the day because the time leading up to an event is often wasted.
    • Separate your routine, automatic tasks from the strategic ones. Strategic duties usually need a higher level of focus, schedule them for the daytime at which you are more productive.
    • Choose one subject for the day, for example, on Monday I work with everything related to budget and Tuesday is for project updates.
  2. Prioritization
    • Know your priorities and identify how you will measure progress. Assign deadlines for everything.
    • Identify the most important things for you and mark them on your calendar or agenda with a special color. Develop the habit of working with those first.
  3. Goal Setting
    • You have goals for your business, and you also have personal goals. Keep an eye on both, create the habit of reviewing them periodically.   
    • You cannot work with all at the same time, divide your goals for the year into smaller time buckets. 
    • Prioritize your goals while dividing in buckets, your yearly goals into months, month goals into weeks, and weeks into days.
  4. Planning
    • Be realistic while planning your daily activities. Regardless of how well you organize and plan, things happen.
    • Make time for the unexpected, plan for not more than 4-5 hours of work per day.
    • Remember those priorities? Always know the one thing you need to get done during the day and do it as early as possible.
  5. Communication
    • Communicate your priorities, goals, and plans with your team or family. Let others help you to be on track for success!
  6. Delegation
    • “If something can be done 80% as well by someone else, delegate!” – John C. Maxwell

Remember, working more hours does not make you more productive, neither does multitasking. Work smarter, not harder!