Beware: 10 Time Management Rules That You Are Breaking

Breaking the Rules-1

Breaking the rules isn’t always a good thing.

Sometimes it may seem necessary to do your own thing.

However, if you break these 10 time management rules, you are only going to waste time in the long run.

Don’t Break These Rules

Time management can sometimes be an art.

However, there are also some basic rules that can help you be more productive in your life.

Break these 10 Time Management Rules at your own risk:

  1. Multi-tasking – Multi-tasking does not lead to more things done. It leads to more things started. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with 57 things started and nothing done.
  2. Scheduling Back-to-back Meetings – When you schedule back-to-back meetings you are practically guaranteeing that the next meeting will start late. Some companies compound this lateness throughout the day, and by mid-afternoon meetings are starting 30+ minutes late.
  3. Answering Your Phone Anytime – Do you answer your phone when you are with other people? Your phone is only an interruption if you let it be. So, stop answering the phone when you are in the middle of something.
  4. Checking Email Incessantly – You don’t need to check email 100 times a day. Email is not intended to be instant communication. Rather, check it morning, noon, and close of day.
  5. Not Unplugging – No one can be “on” all the time. If you don’t unplug from your work and devices, you will burn out. Make sure you have clear boundaries between your work and personal life.
  6. Not Allocating Enough Time for Tasks – As a general rule of thumb, tasks will take about 2X as much time as you estimate. For tasks that you are performing for the first time, make that 4X’s as long.
  7. Too Many Tools in Your Toolkit – If you have too many tools in your time management toolkit, then you are creating unneeded complexity. This leads to confusion, searching for information (which app did I put that in?) and redundancy. Keep things simple and follow the The Power of One when it comes to your tools.
  8. Not Looking at Your List – Many people make lists only to find them later in a drawer or buried on their desk. Make sure to keep your list front-and-center. Visibility leads to action.
  9. Not Putting Things Away – Disorganization leads to wasted time. If you don’t put it away now, you’ll spend time searching for it later.
  10. Not Taking Deadlines Seriously – There is a reason why they were once called deadlines. Yet, in most organizations they are more like suggestions. By not taking deadlines seriously, you will cost yourself time, money, and opportunities. One more thing, you’re not helping yourself by extending those deadlines.

Learning the Hard Way

Breaking the rules isn’t always a good thing.

Abide by these 10 time management rules to be more productive.

Or you can do things the hard way. (Which is the method many people choose…)

Sometimes rules seem more like guidelines.

Other times, they are the proven way to get things done.

Question: Which of these rules are you breaking? What other time management rules do you follow?

29 thoughts on “Beware: 10 Time Management Rules That You Are Breaking

  1. This list is so true! Seeing the “rules” all in one place makes me realize how I succumb to my own issues. 🙂 I recently learned rule #7 and finally have only one calendar, to-do-list, and scribbling notepad. Still working on settling on one word processor, but I’m getting there!

  2. Totally guilty of not allocating enough time for tasks! It’s so true that everything does take longer than expected. I’ve had to completely change my to-do list strategy when I learned this. I used to fill it up with 12 items or more and then become so discouraged at the end of the day when I things were left undone. The reality is it’s only possible to complete about 6 things in a given day. So now I plan my day by asking “what are the 6 most important things I can do today”…..& you can always add more tasks if you complete them. I’ve found this to be really helpful in building positive momentum!

  3. I answer my phone too much. I have my ringtones set so I can tell if it’s family or others and I always answer if it’s family. But that’s getting me into trouble because I answer even if I’m in the middle of something really important. I need to learn to wait and call them back when I can. Most of the time it’s nothing urgent – they just want to chat or ask a question.

    I try NOT to schedule anything back-to-back, because you’re right, it’s an invitation to disaster. Anytime I do that, bad things happen and then I’m super stressed.

    I’m also bad about putting things down instead of away. Mainly on my desk. I really need to work on that because I can’t work when my desk is messy.

  4. Great list Craig! I especially find #2 and #4 are time management killers for me. The days I can schedule few, and well spaced meetings, and stay the hell out of my inbox, are the best and most productive. I’d add one item to your list to give it a less round 11. The 11th rule is spending time waiting on hold rather than using TalkTo to text businesses. Life is too short to spend it on the phone listening to muzak.

  5. Agreed that this is a really good list. I particularly like #5 because it often take a conscious effort and physical action to disconnect, regularly. #7 is a really good one to point out as well – makes me realise that part of the reason my new system works for me is that it’s just fewer tools.

  6. I would add focus on single tasks to completion. It’s the other extreme to multi-tasking but the middle ground of never really finishing anything off is equally dangerous.

  7. Put a nice (short) greeting on your phone and only answer it for your boss or spouse/family.

    Respond to email once a day (even if you check it 2-3x).

    And make it very easy to set an appointment with you (discourage the “pop-by”)

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