Time management mistakes – reading

10 Common Time Management Mistakes That Are Slowing You Down

Adapted from: https://openviewpartners.com/blog/common-time-management-mistakes/

It’s already 3pm yet we’re still working on the same task we started first thing this morning. Our to-do list is piling up, we’re way behind schedule and now it’s time for two hours of back-to-back Zoom calls. Despite our best efforts to efficiently organise our time and stay on top of our schedule, we still find it hard to keep things under control. Let’s try to identify the root of our problem. To help, let’s look at 10 common mistakes that disturb our workflow and prevent us from staying within timelines.

1. Failing to prioritise

Identifying top priority tasks can be overwhelming. Imagine that you’ve just started working on a high-priority task and you’re brainstorming ideas with your team when suddenly you need to refocus on an urgent issue that has just come up. This kind of situation is unavoidable, but the key is learning how to prioritise. Tools like Action Priority Matrix or Google Keep can help you prioritise and maintain a stable productivity level.

2. Starting your day late

Your efforts to complete your daily tasks will fall flat if you don’t start your day early or at least on time. The most influential leaders have one thing in common – they get up early. Starting late almost guarantees you’ll feel rushed throughout the day. “Early” is different for everyone, so look at daily schedule and figure out when your day should begin and end.

3. Scheduling tasks ineffectively

Productivity levels vary from day to day and from person to person. Some people are at the peak of their productivity the moment they wake up, others show their maximum potential once the sun sets. The best way to balance your time is to find out what your peak time is and allocate it for doing top-priority work instead of less important, repetitive tasks.

4. Procrastinating

Procrastination is our worst enemy. There is nothing more detrimental to our concentration and true potential than going around in circles and making excuses about not getting down to work. It creates a huge backlog and makes us feel guilty. To avoid this scenario, focus on starting. This will trigger your imagination, draw your attention and soon you will be entirely involved in the project. If it doesn’t work, try breaking bigger tasks into smaller pieces.

5. Failing to manage distractions

While communication channels and social media platforms allow us to communicate more easily, they’re also majorly distracting. Whether it’s the phone that keeps ringing or notifications that we keep getting, they interrupt our workflow and creative process. Turn off all the notifications and schedule time free from interruptions.

6. Miscalculating the time something will take

One of the most common pitfalls ambitious people make is to miscalculate the time and energy they need to complete a task. It’s typical of A-type overachievers who think they can keep everything under control and never turn down an opportunity. If you’re suffering from this ailment, try the advice from a productivity coach – Kimberly Medlock who recommends writing down the amount of time you’ll need to complete a task and doubling that time. It’s pretty common to underestimate the time it takes to do something.

7.  Multitasking

Having to get on top of our workload, we often fall into the trap of multitasking. Theoretically, it is feasible, however, doing many things at the same time prevents us from focusing on all tasks equally and takes more time than completing tasks in a sequence. If you want to be good at multitasking you need to be super organised and maintain a high level of concentration, creativity, and precision. Whenever the circumstances allow it, forget about multitasking and focus on one task at a time. This will help you produce high-quality work and give you a sense of completion.

8. Being busy vs. being effective

As much as we would like to stay focused on high-value work, we sometimes lose track and find ourselves doing a bundle of low-priority things that not only eat our energy and time but also have little or no impact on the final outcome we’re trying to achieve. To avoid this scenario, ask yourself: Is this useful? How does this contribute to the ultimate goal? Could it be delegated? If you have some minor tasks to deal with, try bunching them up – instead of doing one task each day, do the three days of minor tasks in one afternoon.

9. Being a perfectionist

Our entire life is a learning process. Every time we dive into a new project, we face a number of hurdles, but we also learn how to jump over them along the way. While you should strive towards excellence, keep in mind that sometimes done is better than perfect. This goes back to prioritisation. Your time is limited and if you don’t want to stay overtime you have to sometimes be satisfied with good—don’t let perfect be the enemy of good as they say.

10. Skipping breaks

Whether you’re working on an urgent task or a bunch of low-priority ones, set aside time for breaks. Our brains simply weren’t built to focus for eight hours. You need to step away and do something not related to your job—eat routine such as going for a walk, exercising or simply relaxing. This will help you clear your thoughts and gain more psychological energy.

Take time to make time

Productivity comes down to planning. When you’re feeling crushed by a ton of work, writing to-do-lists or prioritising tasks can feel like a waste of time—but stopping to plan will save you time and stress in the end.

Let’s talk!

  1. Which of these mistakes do you make?
  2. If you were to rank the mistakes from the most to the least common, what would be your TOP 3 and why?
  3. If you were to identify 3 mistakes that are particularly difficult to eliminate, what would they be?
  4. Do you agree that sometimes done is better than perfect?
  5. What do you think of Kimberly Medlock’s advice?
  6. Have you come across any of the recommended tools such as Action Priority Matrix or Google Keep?


Scan the text and review the verb phrases in bold. Then practise them in this online game.



Fill in the gaps: Type in the verb that completes the phrase. Use the text for reference.

to have | to work | to stay | to feel | to fall | to get | to be | to go | to miscalculate | to complete | to maintain | to interrupt | to identify | to make | to clear | to keep