A wise man once said that time is money. So, an organization needs to handle time the same way it handles money — carefully. Wasted time has negative effects on the short and long-term health of a business. On the other hand, proper time management can lead to a significant boost in productivity, decreased stress levels, and a healthier relationship with customers.
Properly using time doesn’t just mean being busy when you’re supposed to. It’s easy to get stuck on the wrong thing only to find that the time has vanished when you need to do the actual work. Proper time management is a skill that requires constant practice to master. Even so, it’s easy to lapse into bad habits.
Do you find yourself under a lot of strain, becoming less productive, and doing things that don’t add value to the business? If so, then you probably need to start making better use of your time. This article reveals the ten signs of poor time management. We’ll also provide some solutions you can apply to rectify this.
What Are the Symptoms of Poor Time Management?
Poor time management is a disease that can drain your motivation to work. It can also impact your personal and business relationships. If any of these ten symptoms applies to you, you need to quickly find a cure.
1. Not Having Targets or Missing Them
Clear personal and collective goals can foster a more harmonious workplace and boost productivity. Bigger goals help to define what is important. Meanwhile, short-term daily, weekly or monthly targets make it easier to prioritize your time and narrow your focus to essential activities.
Without tangible goals, there’s less direction, purpose, and motivation to empty your to-do list. This will make it harder to meet output or turnover targets.
Punctuality is an important currency in the workplace. If you’re always on time to work and appointments, it’s a sign that you care about other people’s time as much as your own. Turning in your projects well ahead of deadlines will enhance your reputation and confer on you the sweet scent of reliability.
It’s acceptable to be late due to circumstances beyond your control. Habitual tardiness, on the other hand, is a sign of bad timekeeping. Missing appointments and deadlines all the time will cost you more than a warm handshake. It may negatively affect people’s perceptions of you and your work.
3. Decreased Productivity
Several studies have clearly shown the relationship between time management and productivity. Poor time management decreases productivity and great time management does the opposite. This is a basic fact of the workplace.
If your output has decreased by a significant degree, it might be because you’re not actually investing as much time as you believe. A study published on Inc.com revealed that people waste 21.8 hours a week on tasks or activities that add little to no value to a business. These include handling unimportant emails, non-productive meetings, and low-value requests from co-workers.
4. Subpar Work Quality
We all love to be commended for turning in an excellent project. The easiest way to get a deserved pat on the back is by effectively managing the time allocated for the task. If you’re in a haste to finish up, it can reflect in a lower quality of output.
Writers, for example, fail to plan an outline and end up saddling their editors with a large volume of adjustments to make. If you’re phoning it in because of time pressures, your clients will begin to notice.
5. Not Meeting Deadlines
Missing deadlines is not a great look for anybody. Your clients and customers expect you to deliver on the due date and constant deviation from the plan will eventually draw them elsewhere. If you prove to them that you’re not reliable, they’ll gladly take their business to someone else who is.
If you’ve been turning in projects late or working overtime recently, this can be directly linked to bad time management. It’s not rocket science. Without a proper view of the amount of time needed to accomplish a task, your plans are more likely to go awry. As a result, you’ll be apologizing to clients more often than you’d like.
6. Too Much on the Plate
Paul Atchley, a professor of psychology at the University of South Florida suggests that multitasking is a myth and recommends focusing on a single task instead. Unfortunately, you may have to jump on two or three tasks at a time because of bad time management.
While handling multiple tasks at once can be helpful and is outright desirable in certain scenarios, it’s better to multitask out of choice rather than necessity.
Similarly, having more work than you’re able to handle is often a consequence of not allocating time properly. Balancing your enthusiasm to take on new projects with the available time is a hard-to-master skill.
7. Feeling Dissatisfied or Disinterested
If you’ve got a good handle on how you spend your time, you’ll be less prone to displaying dissatisfaction with your output. Rushed work and overtime projects can raise your stress levels and cause general unhappiness at your job. When you’re turning in lower quality results because you’re always racing against the clock, we don’t expect you to pop a beer in celebration.
Bad time management can directly trigger a loss of interest as well—you’re doing a bad job anyway so why bother? Left unchecked, this can cause productivity issues or even pose a danger to your livelihood.
8. No Work-Life Balance
Finding a balance between work and personal activities is one of the most critical time management issues in the workplace. While working too few hours a day can harm your overall productivity, spending too much of your time on projects isn’t the best idea either.
A study published in the Harvard Business Review confirms that people in the workplace believe they need to spend more time than strictly required to make headway in their careers. The authors, Ioana Lupu and Mayra Ruiz-Castro, share:
“The majority of the interviewees described their jobs as highly demanding, exhausting, and chaotic, and they seemed to take for granted that working long hours was necessary for their professional success.”
Even so, these short-term gains often come at the expense of long-term personal wellness. Being called a workaholic isn’t always a compliment. It’s sometimes a nice way of prodding you to devote adequate time to rest and relaxation.
Procrastination is near the bottom of this list but at the top of the signs that show that you need to manage your time better. This symptom can come in several forms, all of which achieve the net result of leaving you with little or no time to complete your task.
Putting away urgent work for later and indulging in immediate pleasures may momentarily feel good. However, it’s not something you want to make a habit of. If you keep delaying your work just because it’s tough to complete, we have some bad news for you. You’ll eventually find the work tougher to do because there will be less time to finish it.
“While we waste our time hesitating and postponing, life is slipping away,” argues the Roman philosopher Seneca. Time certainly slips away while you amuse yourself with paper airplanes.
If you stay aboard the bad time management train for too long, you may end up at Burnout Station. Overworking yourself all the time can cause your mind to be in a helter-skelter state. As you try to compensate for lost time, the strain builds up until everything explodes out like air from a punctured tire. In the end, you’ll be exhausted and deflated.
Burnout is caused by prolonged stress from physical, emotional, and mental overload. When work isn’t done when it ought to be, you can end up biting more than you can chew. Effective time management can stop things from deteriorating to this stage.
10 Ways to Manage Your Time Better
Treating a disease almost always involves using more than one drug—just ask your doctor. Here are some ways to manage time more effectively and elevate your business.
1. Arrange Your Tasks in Order of Priority
Knowing that not all tasks are equal and putting this knowledge into practice will make you a better time manager. If there is one significant project, you can divide it into smaller chunks and set reasonable deadlines to complete each portion. Establish a project ladder and cross out milestones so you can avoid task duplication.
Everyone should be assigned to distinct roles but with room for collaboration and creative overlap. The business will function better when everyone knows what their targets are each day, week, and month and are committed to finishing within the allotted time.
Dividing a project into goals, milestones, and targets can help you to maximize productivity.
2. Monitor Activity Progress
Creating and distributing tasks is only half the job. Tracking activity times and progress will tell you what to expect and how to keep up productivity levels. Knowing how much work gets done on a typical workday will enable you to make more accurate forecasts. What’s more, it will help you optimize the resources available to you.
3. Be Punctual
Coming early to work and meetings sets the tone and makes sure that standards in the workplace stay high. This will also give you some credit in the bank for when the unavoidable tardiness happens because of a traffic jam or misplaced car keys.
Punctuality also allows you some time to compose yourself instead of rushing straight into the day’s job after flying in through the doors. When you’re punctual, you spread an air of calmness and dependability that can influence others to follow your example.
4. Use Your Breaks Wisely
Many people use work breaks to put in an extra shift. Don’t let that person be you. You’re a better asset for the business when well-rested. Cash out on your daily breaks and if there’s an option for a paid leave, take it.
You can use your small breaks to take a walk, do some crossword puzzles, or munch on that avocado chickpea salad you packed from home. Anything that lets your mind settle a bit and keeps you away from the red zone is fine.
5. Slow Down
Realism is a rare commodity in the workplace but it’s essential for better time management. Slow down. Be realistic about what you can accomplish each day and don’t try to do too much too soon. You can use a time tracker to measure your output for a week or two to get an idea of where you’re at and use this as the standard going forward.
If you wish to speed things up, commit to an incremental progress plan so your body and mind can slowly get used to the extra work.
6. Spread out Your Activities
Even a machine will eventually break down when used without interruption, never mind a human. Plan your daily tasks in a way that gives you a little buffer time from one activity to the next.
It’s not ideal to directly jump from task to task. Allow at least 15 minutes from one meeting to the next if you can manage it. We don’t want you daydreaming throughout that super important presentation, do we?
7. Focus on One Thing at a Time
Studies have conclusively proven that there’s no tangible long-term advantage from handling multiple tasks at once. It’s better to devote all your attention to one thing at a time.
Multitasking is a surefire precursor to workplace distractions. If you can do two tasks at a time, nothing stops you from both working and playing at the same time either. It’s much better for your productivity and mental health to concentrate on a single activity. That phone call can wait for a few more minutes.
8. Cultivate a Positive Mindset
An article published in The New York Times suggests that procrastination is directly related to negative moods. If you have negative feelings towards a task or the person that assigned it, you’re more likely to put it off in favor of checking the latest football scores on your smartphone.
If you find a project boring or notice that it evokes depressing thoughts, try and find an interesting way to complete it. Instead of staring at a blank document, populate it with an assortment of color-coded ideas and outlines and connect the dots from there.
Coming into work with a positive attitude will also help you avoid procrastinating. Eat well, sleep soundly, and give your loved ones a good kiss before leaving the house.
9. Block out Distractions
Easily succumbing to distractions is evidence of poor time management skills. If you cannot handle interruptions on your own, there are lots of tools that can help. If your smartphone is the biggest culprit, turn it off and lock it in your drawer. Now, if you need it to do your work, download an app blocker and use it to stop distracting apps and notifications during your work hours.
10. Set up a Feedback and Support System
Freedom is a sweet thing and not having to answer to anyone can make you feel powerful. However, your main goal at work should be to be as productive as possible and optimize the time you have. Having a feedback system will keep you on your toes so you don’t slack off. Take the time to cultivate supportive and collaborative relationships both vertically and horizontally. Getting a friendly pat on the back can motivate you to give your all.
Poor time management in a business can often go undetected so it’s essential to identify the symptoms as soon as possible. Cultivating good time management skills will make you and your clients happy.