Habits are like shortcuts for our brain.  We don’t have to really think about what we’re doing, we’ve built habits and can go on auto-pilot for many things we do regularly.  The problem is that habits can be positive AND negative.  Here are a few habits around time management and productivity that can really limit your ability to succeed:

  1. Not taking time to strategize.  With the exception of those that stumble into success blindly, success for most of us takes forethought.  Don’t leave your chance of success to – well – CHANCE!  If you want to accomplish what’s important to you there has to be time invested to fully define what you want to achieve and planning for it.  Building regular routines and habits around planning is crucial.  Be strategic!
  2. Letting interruptions derail the plan.  We all know that interruptions are a fact of life.  However, how we react to them is a skill.  Know when the reason for an interruption is actually more important than what you are working on.  If it’s not, request a time to address it at a more appropriate time OR learn to protect your focused work time to insulate against interruptions.  After you’ve dealt with that, refer back to where you left off and determine if you can continue where you left off or if you need to shuffle your plan to reorder the remaining tasks for your day.  Be focused!
  3. Putting unimportant urgencies before non-urgent priorities.  Don’t be deceived by that stack of small, less important “to do”s.  Yes, they need to be done but they likely don’t all HAVE to be done now.  (They may even be an urgency for someone else, not you.)  It can feel so good to get lots of small stuff checked off your list.  The problem is when it doesn’t leave time for those things that are important.  Putting higher priorities FIRST assures that they get attention.  It is those tasks that ultimately make you successful.  Let those smaller tasks filter in and around those things of higher importance.  They usually find a way of getting done.  However, those bigger projects, goals, and strategic plans never seem to fit within the gaps between smaller tasks.  We will always have urgencies and deliverables but determine to work on priorities before they are “on fire”.  Be purposeful!
  4. Not fully utilizing systems.  Successful people find  quality tools and support to accomplish their goals.  Not investing the time to fully utilize or learn a program or system, relying only on a calendar for time management vs a tool that incorporates tasks, not delegating work that is better handled by someone else are all ways that time management can be hindered.  Think strategically about what tools, systems, and people are the best fit.  Fully utilize your tools!

Cindy B Sullivan is a Time Management & Productivity Consultant and Certified Professional Organizer.  Providing coaching, consulting, and training, Cindy enjoys helping clients “Organize the Time Of Their Life”.  Want to assess your own time management skills?  Take the 6 Pillars assessment here and follow Cindy on Facebook at cbSullivan Consulting & Organizing