10 Time-Management Fails — and How to Fix Them


Time is finite. We all have 24 hours a day, and seven days a week, to achieve our goals. However, it seems like some people have tons of free time, and others never have enough hours in the day. If you are constantly struggling to find the time to get stuff done, you probably need a little more discipline in your life. Here are 10 classic time management fails — that many of us struggle with — and how to fix them. (See also: 8 Reasons Time Is Worth More Than Money)

1. You are a masterful procrastinator

Remember those homework assignments that we put off until the last second? Or deadlines at work that we're desperately trying to meet the night before? We've all done it. You convince yourself that there's just not enough time in the day to do what you need to do, but tomorrow you can get it done. Of course, when tomorrow turns into today, the same thought takes over again, and eventually, it becomes a last-minute rush and you find yourself muttering "I wish I had more time." Thing is, you had it. You just didn't have enough discipline to make use of it.

Stop waiting for tomorrow. Even if you can't finish it today, you can still get started. Start breaking down your tasks and goals into smaller, more manageable steps you can accomplish each day, eventually leading you to the finish line. (See also: How to Add an Extra Hour to Your Day)

2. You don't take advantage of modern technology

Now more than ever, we have all the tools we need to become masters of time management. You have, at your fingertips, some of the best apps available to help you organize your time down to the second, including calendars, reminders, task managers, list makers, and so much more. If you are constantly wishing you had more time, but are not taking advantage of these great (and usually free) tools, you're missing out. Once you start using them, it will become second nature. (See also: Organize 8 Key Areas of Your Life With These 17 Smart Apps)

3. You haven't established a morning routine

One of the easiest ways to get better with time management is to start off the day in the right frame of mind. A morning routine can be tough to establish, especially if some mornings are way different from others. Do what you can to carve out 30 minutes that will set you on the right track for the rest of the day. It can be as simple as a quick shower, drinking coffee while catching up on the morning news, a brisk walk around the block, and five minutes of meditation. Do whatever works for you. But do it daily, and it will ground you for a less hectic day. (See also: 13 Things Successful People Do Every Morning)

4. You make too much time for fun

Isn't it funny how there's "not enough time to do everything," but there's always time to see that new movie, head to the ballgame, or go on a shopping trip? That's just human nature. We make time for the fun stuff because it's, well, fun.

However, you can't really justify saying you don't have enough time to get work or chores done when you easily make time for the fun things. Even laying in bed and giving the snooze button a few whacks is time that could be spent doing other things. Sure, you need to make time to relax and wind down, but balance that with some discipline so you can go to bed feeling good about the way you spent your day.

5. You waste time because you're disorganized

You can't find your keys. You forgot something you needed at the store, and have to make a second trip. You can't find that super important work email in your messy inbox. Things like this can really eat into the time you have available throughout the day. Ten minutes here, 20 minutes there, and before you know it, you've wasted two precious hours and gotten nothing done.

This problem can be eliminated by getting more organized. For example, make a place right next to the door to hang your keys, and get into the habit of hanging them there as soon as you come in the door. Make lists on your phone before you go to the grocery store. Add stars and labels and folders to keep your inbox clean. It may take you some time on the front end to make these organizational moves, but you'll save tons of time in the long run. (See also: 5 Easy Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life)

6. You're trying to do too much at once

A little multitasking here and there is fine. However, when you decide that the best way to get everything done is to attack it all at once, you're going to run into all kinds of problems. First, your focus is divided between several tasks at the same time, and that will mean each job is only getting a fraction of the attention it deserves. You may also need to be in a different mindset to do one job, and it can negatively impact the work you're doing on the others.

Mix-ups and mistakes often happen when you're juggling a whole bunch of projects, plus you can feel so overwhelmed that in the end, none of the jobs get completed; or if they do, they're half-baked. Only take on what you can manage successfully, and have the discipline to finish those tasks before attempting any more. (See also: 16 Time and Money Saving Apps for Freelancers)

7. You tend to rush things

When people rush, they inevitably make mistakes that have the exact opposite impact, and they spend more time fixing mistakes than if they had just slowed down and done it right the first time. While it may seem like going faster will get it done faster, it will probably just create problems for you. So, take a breath, slow down, and work at a steady and manageable pace.

8. Your goals are ill-defined

People who are on top of everything know exactly what they want to achieve. Usually, their goals are written down and planned out, weeks or months in advance. Not only that, but every goal is crystal clear.

For example, let's take something that we all dread — cleaning out the garage or basement. For those of us who never seem to have enough time in the day, it's just a horrible task on the horizon that we keep putting off. For those with clear goals, it will be compartmentalized and come with a list of dates and objectives:

  • Day one, go through all old paperwork, shred, and file.

  • Day two, find items to donate.

  • Day three, find items for a garage sale.

And so on. "Clean the garage" is daunting and feels massive. Breaking the goal into clear steps with deadlines makes life way easier.

9. You get laser-focused on one task

When you do something, you don't just want to do it well, you want it do it flawlessly. So cleaning the kitchen takes all day instead of half an hour, as you sit on the floor with a toothbrush and a bleach solution getting into every crevice and tile. Cleaning the junk drawer becomes a task that sends you to the store for a new set of containers, and bags, and labels, and zip ties. Tasks that should take minutes take hours, and hours turn into days. Simply by easing off and doing a decent job, not a perfect one, you can save so much time.

10. You have trouble making decisions

How many of us have spent an hour or more in front of the TV trying to find something good to watch? By the time we land on the perfect movie or show, there's no time left to watch it. The same can be said of deciding on meals to prepare, clothes to buy, or places to visit. Too much time is spent on the act of making a decision, and not enough time spent doing what needs to be done.

There are ways to get around this, such as apps that help you make decisions, or simply jotting down the pros and cons of the outcome. Get in the habit of making decisions more quickly, and you'll have more time on your hands. (See also: How to Simplify Your Life to Avoid Decision Fatigue)

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