4 Common (But Costly) Time Management Mistakes You’re Probably Making

 

Everyone knows that time is money, but for some reason, not many of us treat our time with as much finesse and care as we do our finances. It’s probably because when you’re broke, you notice it straight away. If you don’t budget well, you know exactly what the cost is, especially when the bills come in. 

With time, though, you don’t necessarily always feel the effects of bad time management. You might think you’re alright with your time management skills; after all, you still get things done. But lost time is still lost time, whether we realise it’s lost or not. If you were to monetise the hours you lost each day on inconsequential habits like playing games on your phone, for example, how much would it cost you? 

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That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Most of us probably aren’t even aware of the mistakes we’re making when it comes to time management, let alone know the costs of those mistakes. To start with, though, here are four common (but costly) time management mistakes you need to stop making. 

P.S. Learn effective time management strategies with SSA Academy’s WSQ course on developing personal effectiveness today! 

 

1. Saying “I don’t have time”

Language plays a huge role in creating meaning; simple linguistic tweaks can make all the difference in switching your perspective on time management. One of the easiest ways to do this is to stop saying “I don’t have time.” Instead, replace it with “‘It’s not a priority.” It can help you to be more deliberate about choosing how you spend your time. 

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Think about it. How many times have you found yourself putting off a particular task, not because it wasn’t important, but because it wasn’t urgent? Most of the time, you end up just forgoing the task entirely at the end of the day, saying, “I just ‘don’t have time for that.” You convince yourself it really wasn’t that important although it actually was.

If, instead, you said “‘It’s just not a priority right now,” you can hear how absurd it is, given the fact that it actually is a priority even though you have other urgent things to attend to. Hearing yourself say it brings home the fact that ‘you’ll have to make time for it today instead of putting it off. 

 

2. Underestimating the power of breaks

You wouldn’t treat your personal finances carelessly by indulging in endless impulse-buy sprees. Once the astronomical credit card bills are in, you’ll instantly regret it. 

Similarly, being over-indulgent about wasting little pockets of time can add up to a lot. Your commuting time, lunch breaks, even the pocket of time where you flop down on your sofa for some Netflix after getting home from work–all of it counts. 

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These add up to a couple of hours lost each day that could have otherwise been better utilised. 

The point here isn’t necessarily that you should plan every last second of your time. Instead, it’s that you need to stay in control of how you choose to spend your time. Always be intentional about how you use your time. It may take more effort, and you might find it hard to stop getting distracted at the outset, but the satisfaction you’ll ultimately derive from it is more than worth it.

 

3. Mistaking the forest for the trees 

So many people look too much at how to shave time off their day. What they really need to do, though, is to look at how they’re dividing their time daily. Planning your meals and outfits for the week in advance, for instance, might help you save some time each day. 

In the long term, however, it might ultimately fail to make a difference if you’re not conscientious about how you’re using the free time you have to work towards your goals and priorities at work and in life.

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4. Comparing schedules with others

How many times have you heard the phrase “we all have the same 24 hours a day”? While there is truth to that statement, it’s also counter-productive to compare how you’re spending your time with how someone else is spending theirs. 

For one thing, yes, none of us has more than 24 hours each day to work with. But the more resources you have, the more you can make your time stretch for you. People who are more knowledgeable and wealthier, for example, often learn things faster and can hire personal assistants to do all of their “shallow work” for them. Comparing your time management to theirs is, therefore, not always realistic.

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We all have different life circumstances, responsibilities, commitments, and so on, and that’s okay. That’s why you need to prioritise and plan your time according to what’s best in your particular situation. For instance, waking up at 5 AM might work for some people, but not others. Likewise, for some people, getting the hardest tasks out the way first is a good way to save time. For others, though, it’s not as effective. 

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