Another workday on the horizon, but you arrive to work 45 minutes late. Do you find yourself running late to work often? Are you spending too much time in meetings where your input is not needed? Are you a procrastinator and wait until the last minute to meet a deadline?
These questions represent examples of poor time management at work. Not managing your time can lead to conflicted relationships with colleagues, missed deadlines, and a decrease in your performance. Occasionally, it’s ok to come in late due to reasons such as being stuck in rush hour traffic. But not practicing punctuality can cost you time in the long run. For example, if you happen to put off crucial tasks early on in the day, you may end up staying late at the office more often than you should.
It’s crucial to understand some signs of poor time management on the job. I will go over four common issues that workers struggle with and how to approach them so that you can manage your time better. The five themes include:
1.) Punctuality (Arriving Late To Work)
2.) Rushing (Putting Off Work The Last Minute)
3.) Spending Too Much Time In Meetings
4.) Doing Everything By Yourself
Theme # 1 Punctuality (Arriving Late To Work)
As I mentioned earlier, coming into work late is ok for several reasons. If you get stuck into rush hour traffic, or maybe there was bad weather one day that your commute took longer. But if you make it a bad habit, it demonstrates to people you work with that you’re not committed to doing your best. Your colleagues may think you have a bad attitude or that you’re not contributing to your company’s success. More so, you’re not counted to be a good team player who is reliable and dependent upon when needed.
Even something little as what took place the night before can lead to tardiness the following day. If you stayed up too late or didn’t get a good night’s sleep, you might be tired or end up oversleeping. Oversleeping is one common reason people show up late to work, which results in feeling rushed and more stressed out when they arrive at work. The upside to this is you may feel energetic by getting extra sleep in, but that can change the way you plan your day ahead. You may not get as much work done when you feel rushed at times.
My Solution: One approach I practice is starting my day a half an hour early than I usually would. That can be waking up early, or going into the office soon to get a head start (if your company permits it). If you know your commute will take longer due to nasty winter weather, leave a little early than you usually do. Also, utilize that extra time to listen to an audiobook, an audio course- challenge yourself to learn something new. Do something that will motivate you to kick start your day.
Theme # 2 Rushing (Putting Off Work Until The Last Minute)
If you find yourself to be a procrastinator, you often put off challenging tasks during critical parts of the day. These are tasks you should be doing during your peak period (i.e., late morning-early afternoon hours). Additionally, getting disapproval from colleagues and managers, who may see that your job wasn’t thorough if they find a lot of mistakes in it, such as spelling or grammar errors.
My Solution: If you go back to one of my previous articles (insert link), I get in the habit of breaking down your tasks into separate categories, including next actions, maybe, and reminders. Make a to-do list and prioritize what needs to get done today. For example, you can spend two hours of your day writing a report that is due in the next two days. If you can utilize your time doing those tasks this way, you would be amazed to see how much you can get done in a short time frame.
Theme # 3 Sitting In On Long, Unnecessary Meetings
Let’s face it: meetings can be a significant waste of time, but they are a necessary evil in the workplace. The issue I have sometimes is they’re not well-planned out; in other words, people may sit around and talk about topics that aren’t related to the meeting agenda.
Also, I’ve sat in meetings where they go on much longer than anticipated. I remember sitting in a teleconference call that was supposed to be 45 minutes, but it ended up lasting 90 minutes. Not only that, the topics were boring, and even my coworkers were sitting around ready to pull their hair off!
If I’ve learned anything, I find meetings to be a brilliant excuse to hold off on doing real work, and it can take away so much time.
My Solution: Unless you are mandated to be at a meeting, politely decline to attend if you need to meet deadlines or have a lot on your plate at your desk. There’s no need to be at a meeting if your input on the agenda is not needed. Even if you think these meetings will be brief and quick, they can last much longer. Sometimes, you may be required to stay late at the office if you didn’t plan to be in meetings for such long periods.
Theme # 4 Doing Everything By Yourself
Setting numerous tasks to check off on your own is fine. But if it ends up being too much where it eats up your time, then you may want to delegate some of those tasks to other people. For instance, if some of your coworkers have time to do some small favors, don’t be afraid to ask them if it’ll save you some time. Or in another situation, if it’s your manager’s responsibility to assign tasks to their associates, hopefully, they’re mindful enough not to overload too much work on one individual. If your manager is not responsible for handling this approach, or you think you have too much work, kindly have a conversation with them. It may be uneasy to talk to your boss, but if it’s affecting your performance, this is a necessary conversation to have with them.
I learned a few years ago at my last job that delegating tasks to others would have saved me a lot of time. Two of my coworkers and I did a lot more work than average. It was stressful, and there was a time or two. It became too much, and I felt burned out. Some projects I did took away significant time from work I should have been doing. I was part of a small team at the time, but as the group grew two-three years later, we were able to divide our workload so everyone can do less work and save more time. So I knew there were growing pains during that period, and I had to make some sacrifices to support the business.
My Solution: Learn the process of delegating your tasks to your coworkers. In other words, divide up the work so you can spend time doing tasks that matter the most. It is vital for long term success and your performance at work- by not doing so much work on your own.
Identifying the signs of poor time management, and understanding how to avoid them will result in less stress, less disappointment from the people you work with, and better performance at your job. Additionally, practicing simple things such as getting enough sleep the night before, or getting a little head start in your day can make a difference in your daily work routine.
One other thing to point is the difference between efficiency and effectiveness at your job. Efficiency means you are a lot of tasks done in a short time frame, while effectiveness means you get the right tasks done in a reasonable time. If you’re getting a lot of things done at work, but not prioritizing the important tasks at stake, then you’re not doing what you were paid to do. If it’s tasks that are easy and quick, but if the work you’re supposed to do is more challenging, then it can be tempting to put it off for later.
Do you get what I’m saying? Sometimes, you have to challenge yourself to change your attitude and mindset. If you regularly set goals for yourself and think of the rewards that can come later, it’s a great way to motivate yourself. Ask yourself, what outcome do you want to happen when you’re done with the task at hand?
If you had similar problems with time management at your job, I’d love to hear from you.
-What kind of challenges did you deal with?
-How did you overcome them?
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