Reducing stress, improving productivity, better focus — the benefits of effective time management are undeniable. Many resources are out there to give you the tools you need to do the right thing (the “do’s”). But while knowing the right way is important, it’s also important to know what not to do. Otherwise you risk mixing up bad habits with good ones, and overall lessening the effectiveness of your time management plan.
Don’t Build an Impossibly Long List
Time management is an effective and useful tool, but it’s not a miracle pill. When generating your to-do be sure to not overstuff your day. There are only so many hours in the workday, and adding too much is only setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Time management is supposed to reduce stress and bolster productivity by helping you to focus — it’s not supposed to give you more to do.
Don’t Allow Excessive Distractions
Down time is vital to your overall success and happiness. But when it’s time to tackle an item on your list, that should be the only thing you’re tackling. Use time management to plan out down time or time for distractions, but when the next-up item on your list is an important task, that item should be given your undivided attention until it is complete.
Don’t Set Unreasonable Goals
New Year’s Resolutioners, we’re talking to you! Goals are important to our sense of progress and fulfillment, but only if we actually reach our goals. Use goals to challenge yourself, but not to put the bar so high that there’s no reasonable way of meeting them in a healthy and efficient manner.
Set a good mix of short-term and long-term goals that are totally doable, and be sure to allow yourself time between tasks to recoup. It is entirely unreasonable to set a goal of “only work,” just as it is unreasonable to set goals that have nothing to do with accomplishing tasks that are important to yourself or your work.
We’re told that multitasking is a valuable skill all of the time. Many less effective employers even demand it! But the truth of the matter is, no one can actually multitask perfectly. The human brain just cannot do it without sacrificing quality and causing stress. Don’t get drawn up into doing more than you should all at once, or being too proud to admit that your work suffers when you try to do many things at once rather than one thing many times better.
Don’t Fail to Utilize Your Resources
Having a good time management plan in place can feel really empowering, and it should. But it doesn’t make your superman, and doesn’t remove the need to work as a team. Avoid taking on too much at once, or ignoring the fact that including working with the team could make your tasks easier or less stressful to accomplish.
And never be afraid of saying no! If you’re asked to take on a task that doesn’t have an easy place within your time management schedule, feel free to decline the task when possible. There’s no point in derailing your well thought out plan in favor of trying to do too much.
Treat time management like the handy tool that it is, and don’t make the mistake of overloading your schedule or taking on all of your tasks at once. Remember that your mental health is priority number one, and use this list of “don’ts” to avoid falling into the common pitfalls of a poorly executed time management plan!