Of all the resources we have time is the most complex. We have no control over the flow of time, the time will pass whether we act or not. We can make a difference in what we do with the more but that is more about managing ourselves than managing time. We can all agree that how we use the time we have available to us is important. So avoiding time-wasters should be a top priority for all of us. We have a long list of time wasters, so long it will have a part 2. Let’s discuss them and why they are time wasters. Of course, you’ll get tips on how to eliminate these time wasters.
Failure to plan ahead
Taking things as they come up is a huge time waster because you fail to identify what is important. You will likely find yourself working on what is urgent but not always important and eventually firefighting. A good plan identifies what is important and keeps it at the forefront. The greater the detail in which you plan the less time you will waste.
Poor decision making
The sources of poor decision-making are many. Sometimes, you make decisions with inadequate or incorrect information. In other cases, you make rash decisions. Whatever the cause the result is a decision that brings you problems. You want to give yourself both the time and the information to make the best decisions and you can also exercise your decision-making muscles to avoid this.
Failure to delegate
Delegation has had its time in the sun as one of the most popular buzzwords in business and management. We all understand the idea of handing over tasks to other people in the organisation. It also involves handing over tasks to people who are better suited to the tasks and not trying to do everything yourself.
Failure to set realistic standards
Chasing perfection or unrealistic standards is another time waster to watch out for. We all want to do great work, even our best work. This isn’t always viable nor the best thing to do. Especially when the pursuit of these standards gets in the way of you starting on what needs to be done. Get accustomed to starting things unperfect and perfecting them along the way.
Trying to do too much
This goes hand in hand with setting unrealistic standards. It feels good to look at a huge to-do list and tell yourself you’re going to do it all but there is no point in scheduling more work than you can realistically do and disastrous to schedule more work than you can do well. You need to find the balance between achievable and challenging in your to-do list.
Failure to control meetings
Meetings are a big pain point in terms of time management and have the potential to get out of hand if not approached correctly. You can read about how to approach meetings and how long meetings should be to get an idea of how to improve your time management around meetings and avoid them becoming time wasters.
Failure to control interruptions
We would love to live in a world of no interruptions but as long as you’re alive and breathing they will exist. And these can become the biggest time wasters you will ever encounter. Instead of aiming for zero distractions as the world will rarely afford us such opportunities what we should learn how to do is control our interruptions. Quadrant II management provides some good lessons for us on this.
One who reacts is always behind developments. It costs a lot of time if you are always reacting to what’s happening you barely find time to breathe before the next thing comes up. If you operate without a plan every change is a crisis. The best way to predict the future is to create it and while you certainly cannot control everything you can give yourself a better chance by improving your planning.
Failure to control paperwork
Everybody hates administrative work. Alright, hate is a strong word, let’s just say people dislike it. People put it off and before you know it it’s controlling you. Admin isn’t the most attractive work but doing it right will put you a step ahead. If your admin system is painful then consider rearranging the system and automating some parts of it.
Failure to communicate clearly
In business, the cost of not communicating is compounded because you will likely have to clarify the communication while losing valuable time and delaying the completion of the task. Using a feedback loop and an open communication policy helps. There’s no harm in asking for clarity.
These are 10 big-time wasters in our work lives. The list is so big we will have to do a follow-up with even more time wasters you should learn to look out for.