During interviews, one of the most popular questions hiring managers ask is “what’s one of your biggest strengths?” It’s a pretty straightforward question and one of the most popular responses is “time management”. But for most people, that’s a lie. Whether you realize it or not, most of us could manage our time much better. There are things we do everyday that are counter-productive. Even with the best intentions, we spend a lot of time wasting it. If you want to get your time back, you first have to take a look at how you’re spending it. Here are 5 signs you’re terrible at time management:
You don’t have a to-do list(s).
Even if you think you have the best memory in the world, it’s impossible to keep all your priorities straight in your head. Working off of a mental to-do list can backfire very easily. Especially if you have a lot going on, you have the potential to let simple things fall through the cracks. Do yourself a favor and write down your to-do list, either on a piece of paper or on your phone. This will help you keep track of everything you have to do so that you don’t miss another deadline. Check out our previous post about having two to-do lists.
You are indecisive.
Do you go back and forth whenever you have to make a decision? How much time do you spend trying to weigh out all the pros and cons? Spending a lot of time on a decision makes sense for bigger picture issues but most of the time, you really don’t need to think about it so much. If you’re indecisive, you have a fear of failure when it comes to the choices you make. But think about it this way: even if you do fail, it’s not the end of the world. Just go with your gut.
You can’t say ‘no’.
If you’re always the one to say ‘yes’ to anything that is thrown your way, you’re definitely being a team player. While it’s a great thing to add more value to your team, you have to think of yourself as well. You only have so many hours a week to get your own things down. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ if you feel like it would just be too much. It’s OK and people will understand. It’s better to be honest upfront then to find yourself in a stressful and unmanageable situation later on.
You wait until the last minute.
Procrastination is tough to beat. But it must be done. Otherwise, you throw yourself into a frenzy at the last minute and you risk not finishing the project in time. If you have a tendency to procrastinate, set earlier deadlines for yourself and stick to them. This way, you can finish earlier and have extra time to look over your work.
You focus on the wrong things.
One of the keys to effective time management is prioritization. You have to focus on what is most important first. Otherwise, you’re not really making any progress, even if you get a lot of things done. When you’re creating your to-do list, put the most important items first. Even though you might be dreading it, get those things out of the way so that you can free up your time.
Even if you’re guilty of some of these signs, it’s not too late to change course. Effective time management takes awhile to master but once you do, it becomes second nature…just like riding a bike.