Time management is something most of us want to master. Why? To be and feel more productive. As a Time Management Coach and Productivity Specialist I hear complaints such as: “I have too much to do.””My to-do lists are never ending.””I hate structure.””I don’t have enough time.” If any of these sound familiar then it’s time to look at what the problem is. Once you identify the problem(s) you can begin to work on the solutions.
Time management – 5 Reasons why your time management isn’t working
- Unrealistic expectations
- No time management system
- Lack of consistency using a system
- Unclear, unspecific goals
- Wrong time management tools
Time management isn’t working, you have unrealistic expectations
Are you expecting too much in too short a time or with too little resources? Are you lacking a plan, in other words, trying to “wing it”? Time management relies upon having information and realistic expectations. Time management may be compromised if you do not have the information, skills, time and experience to get it done. In this case you might be more productive by delegating or outsourcing the task.
Realistic expectations are helpful in another way. After considering what the task involves and whether you are the right person to get it done you might choose to decline the project or postpone it. Setting boundaries based upon realistic expectations will help you to maintain your credibility with others and minimize stress. These are the benefits of effective time management.
Time management isn’t working, you have no system
A time management system includes structure and routines to help you navigate tasks from beginning to end. Think about everyday examples of systems that work for you such as exercise personal training programs, nutritional regimens, bookkeeping systems, lists and templates for packing, grocery shopping and buying gifts.
A time management system needs to be customized for your personal and career demands. It will keep you on track, help you to meet deadlines, allow for unexpected circumstances, and help you to balance core activities in your life. Time management is NOT about being busy every waking minute. It is about productivity and having time for both the important and satisfying aspects of your life.
Time management isn’t working, you lack consistency with your system
Time management is a habit, a set of learned behaviors. We all get off track and risk slipping back into old ways. Using a time management system as consistently as possible is the key to success. When you have a “bad” day, focus on how well your system worked when you used it and start again. It is easier to get back on track when your system is in place. The tendency to quit and engage in self blame won’t help you. Be kind to yourself and allow for imperfection. The value of practicing behaviors with consistency is in the results.
Time management isn’t working, your goals are not specific and measurable
Time management includes goals such as being on time. The only way to know if you are meeting your goals is to be able to quantify specific results. If your goal is to lose weight you want to specify how much and by when. If your goal is to publish a book you need to be able to break down each step of the process from doing research, writing a draft, to editing, revising, etc. Specific and measurable goals factor in quantity, time, and quality of outcomes. Meeting those aspects throughout the process is rewarding and motivating.
Time management isn’t working, you are using the “wrong tools”
Time management tools that you use need to match your learning and lifestyle. If you are visual you might prefer a paper calendar or color coded digital calendar. If you are auditory a digital calendar with alerts or notifications is very helpful. If you are kinesthetic then writing in a paper calendar will likely aid memory. Most of us are multi-sensory learners and can benefit from a combination of tools.
If you are very mobile a bulky paper calendar may not suit your needs. If you are uncomfortable reading digital screens, don’t like glare, and need to be able to see a weekly view of your calendar then a phone screen may be problematic. There are numerous apps that help with time management, reminders and lists. Consider how long the learning curve is and how redundant the app(s) may be with the features on your technology. Keep it simple is my recommendation.