Do you sometimes struggle to manage your time effectively? It’s all too easy to get caught up in a busy week and fall victim to burnout when stress takes over. There’s also the trap of assuming we need to keep busy in order to be appear super productive, completing a task only to take on the next one. But, in reality, we are only fooling ourselves because it’s impossible to maintain quality and stamina over the long haul. The impact of poor time management is felt in poor service delivery, shoddy documentation and disorganised processes. Here is how to rectify it before it becomes a pandemic.

1. Over planning

In an attempt to get more done, we sometimes put too much on our plate. Keeping your daily planner full of things to do is not going to help you be more productive. What it is going to do, however, is cause unnecessary panic. This leads to over thinking, which affects your creativity, performance and will power. According to this Buffer blog, your should limit your to-do list. The first thing to do in the morning is to plan your day around the most important tasks so you can tackle them first. If you leave these tasks for the last minute, you may find yourself stuck in the office well past six o’ clock.  It is our working memory that allows us to focus on information, but if you put too much pressure on yourself, it creates distracting thoughts.

2. Deadly distraction

In the age of FOMO (fear of missing out) we want to be constantly plugged into the greater world around us, often to the detriment of our own work. According the Awesome Office podcast, we are all addicted to the drug of distraction. We crave the feel-good chemicals that come with mindlessly surfing the web or being on our phones. “The biggest downside of these euphoria-inducing habits is that they prevent us from being fully present in the moment.” So, what is the cure of distraction? To be present in the moment and focused on the task at hand, so that we can be more insightful and helpful to the people around us. Productive employees know that leaving your phone on your desk is a bad call, so they keep it out of sight, to eliminate temptation. But do return to your phone to check for messages or calls that need your urgent attention.

3. Underestimating deadlines

The reason we miss deadlines is often due to a phenomenon known as Planning Fallacy, (where you underestimate the time it will take to complete a task). You know your own processes, so set realistic deadlines and not overly-optimistic ones. Plan for the worst-case-scenario where you factor in internal and external disruptions. Ask yourself, if I don’t finish this today, what is the consequence? And what can I do to get things back on track? According to this Entrepreneur blog, “Incredibly productive people consider what their future self is going to need, and prepare in advance for that success.” If it’s hard for you to stick to your own deadlines, give yourself a buffer and try to commit to a deadline a couple of days before the actual due date and tell others about this, publicly announcing your own deadlines makes you more accountable.

4. Getting stuck in procrastination central

Procrastination is the enemy of time management  – there is no denying it. You have a hectic deadline and yet you choose to ignore it for the time being, but then your deadline approaches and pretty soon you are caught up in a vortex of anxiety and stress. Sound familiar? You could be procrastinating for a number of reasons: you’re trying to make it perfect, you’re feeling overwhelmed or have poor self-esteem. But ignoring your problems is not going to make them magically disappear. Unfortunately procrastination is not something you can cure completely. It’s like the common cold, all you can do is treat the symptoms.  Use these remedies to ease the pain.

Image Credit: Health Castle