I read somewhere that one of the biggest time-wasters is procrastination, but I think it is disorganization. Which is it?
Signed, Disorganized Procrastinator
Dear Disorganized Procrastinator,
Both are correct! The top 5 most common time wasters are:
1. Lack of Planning & Prioritizing
4. Internet, Email, and Social Media
They could be in different order for different people, but these are the ones that trip most people up. This is such a hot topic that I will take the next several columns to address each of these time-wasters! Read each column in the series, as they do relate to one another. You can easily read previous columns on the Independent website.
If these time-wasters unmanaged, they really cut into a person’s productivity and important matters tend to slip through the cracks. In my coaching work, I generally start to get someone on track by teaching how to Plan & Prioritize. Learning these skills first allows the rest of life’s time-wasters to be better handled. That is why I will begin with Planning and Prioritizing.
You will have a better chance for a productive day when you learn to schedule it and prioritize tasks, plus realistically estimate and allocate time for the tasks. Without doing these things, most people spend their days putting out fires and not accomplishing the most crucial tasks on their list. If you are someone who doesn’t make a written list, read on for help with that.
Some take the ‘ostrich’ approach to running their lives, basically ignoring the things they need to do and hoping they go away. However, avoiding responsibility is not as easy as it looks. The problem seldom goes away, and is usually exacerbated, making it all the more difficult to deal with in the future. For example – if you don’t open your mail for days or weeks, you will end up with expensive late fees and finance charges. Being proactive about possibly troublesome concerns is far easier.
To plan is first to have an intention about what you are going to do. Detailing what you are going to do and when you are going to do it is the strategy necessary for ultimate success.
You most likely have a long list of things you need or want to do, but perhaps that list isn’t written down anywhere, so writing the list down is the first step. If your list is particularly long, categorize it. Perhaps you can break it down into subjects such as: house-related, travel-related, personal, kids, work, etc. Make sure you have a place for each task to go. Once you have done this, you can prioritize each item in the category based on its importance in relationship to the other items on that list. Numbering them chronologically within each category makes it easier to later schedule the tasks.
The first and best approach is to know what needs to be done when. Plan your day the night before in a proper calendar or system. Whether you like to hand write everything on paper or use a Smartphone makes little difference as long as you use it consistently. Putting a list together that is thought out and planned properly allows you to prepare for what is coming up with enough lead time to have more productivity.
Prioritizing is easily calculated by asking yourself the following question:
If nothing gets done today but one thing, which must it be?
That item is #1. If there is a negative financial ramification, or a major opportunity will be missed without the completion of this task, then it is a higher priority item.
Once you have your list created and prioritized, then it needs to be planned into your schedule. Learn more on this in detail by visiting my website. More questions? Send them to Juli at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “question for column” in the subject line and they will be answered in an upcoming column. Watch next week for Time-Waster #2!