4 Signs of Bad Time Management

Signs of Bad Time ManagementI always see one or two employees standing outside the front entryway smoking a cigarette when I go to a store.

Sure, they might legitimately be on break, but people who smoke do it pretty regularly so my guess is they’re sneaking outside every hour or two to take a smoke break.

There are articles in the papers about companies cracking down on their employees’ use of social media websites during the workday.

Apparently people are spending so much time updating their Facebook statuses and Tweeting about where they’re going for lunch that they’re not completing projects at work.

Extra long trips to the bathroom or the water cooler, getting back from lunch late … all of these “It was just 5 minutes!” add up quickly.(Here’s a little trick to track those five minutes that accumulate up to a lot of time wasted.)

It’s easy to slack off at work when you’re getting a paycheck from someone else, but if you run your own business, time is money.

If something doesn’t get done, it’s on your shoulders. “I’m just so busy!” is a common complaint, but my guess is that poor time management is really the issue.

Now I’m going to discuss a few things that commonly cause people problems.

#1- Being Unorganized

Every time I see a commercial for Hoarders, I cringe. I can’t fathom living surrounded by that much stuff. You don’t have to be the neatest person in the world but if you work from home, you need some sort of organizational system in place.

If you always set the mail down in the same spot on the counter, even if you don’t go through it immediately, you’ll always know where the mail is. If you always set your car keys down in the same place too, you won’t have to waste ten minutes looking for them when you’re ready to go somewhere.

Keeping your work area organized is important, too. If you’re using books as references, keep them nearby! Make sure your pens and paper and laptop are ready to go, too. If you have to look for things before you can get down to business at your desk, you just wasted time that you could have been getting a project finished.

#2- Poor Preparation and Estimation

If you’re going on a trip, trying to pack your suitcase the night before you leave is pretty hectic. Some of the clothes you want to bring may be dirty, so you’ll have to wash them and stay up later than you had planned.

If you ran out of shampoo or toothpaste the day before, you have to go to the store and buy some before you can finish packing. Waiting till the last minute is never a good idea, with packing a suitcase or anything in life.

I’ve had business meetings and interviews with people that seemed as if they threw together their presentations about five minutes before I arrived, and it was certainly obvious. If you assume that something will take you an hour to do, then figure two hours into your schedule just in case. That way, you may wind up finishing early, but you also gave yourself extra time should it be needed.

It’s common sense, really. Be prepared for things, and you won’t look … unprepared.

3- Being Around Distractions

Different things are distractions for different people.

For instance, while I’m traveling I have to use my laptop whenever I can get Wi-Fi.

Sometimes that’s out in public, which isn’t the quietest place I can think of, but I’ve got to take what I can get while I’m in Europe. Under normal circumstances I prefer to catch up on emails and blogs where I’m not around noisy distractions, but I’m trying to get accustomed to doing it this way while I’m over here.

Some of you may really enjoy sitting on your laptop at a coffee shop because being at home is what distracts you while you’re working. If you work from home and have children with you, you’re probably going to get distracted as things happen with them, but you’re also probably learning how to deal with it because you have to.

To really learn how to avoid distractions, I recommend you read my post about 7 tips for increasing for productivity.

Figure out what works for you, and take advantage of it. Distractions are a huge time waster.

#4- Lack of Self-Discipline

A lack of self-discipline also ties into being around distractions. If you decide to complete a project on your computer while you sit poolside at your hotel in Malibu, you might wind up ordering a drink or chatting it up with a girl in a bikini who sits down close by instead of doing your work.

You weren’t disciplined enough to say, “I’m sorry, but I’m busy right now. Maybe I’ll see you later?”

If you want to run your own business effectively, you must be self-disciplined. I know that Lost a really great TV show, but you can set the DVR and watch it tomorrow.

Realize that time is money, and start improving your time management skills today!

Take Action. Get Results.