Top 5 ways we sabotage time

We are all time poor and some more than others.  If we were to be self-critical, we will have to acknowledge that we play a big part in how we manage the time that we have.  We know that there is only 24 hours in a day, no more and no less.  There are various tips and methods that people have used to manage time more effectively and productively.  The other side of looking at time is to take a look at the part that each of us play in sabotaging time that we have.

The top 5 ways that we sabotage when it comes to time and time management are:

  1. Spending time on the least important or impactful activities.  These might be the activities that you enjoy doing to activities that we do to avoid starting or completing an important task.  Whether it is based on enjoyment or avoidance, there is a need especially in the workplace to complete the impactful and important first.  Spend the appropriate time and energy on those and then if you have time for other activities do them.  For example, I worked in a company where I could literally spend the whole 8 hours reading and responding or replying to emails.  On average I would have 150 – 200 emails.  Would spending all my time on emails be impactful?  No, would  be the clear answer.  I would need to prioritise the importance and impact of the emails and respond accordingly.  In 90% of the time, only 10% of the emails are worth your time and energy.
  2. Doing activities that makes you feel important vs. that makes an impact.  It is very easy for any of us to want to do activities that would give us a sense of importance.  It is however not necessarily impactful or productive.  For example, as a Marketing Director, one of the activities would be to give presentations and demonstrations of the company’s product/solution portfolio.  It is an important and can be an impactful part of my responsibilities but as a director, it should not be the majority of my time.  Being in front of a crowd, makes me feel important but as a Marketing Director, there is a need to spend more time with strategies and management of the team.  What are those activities for you?  Being self-aware is the first step to helping you to identify the areas that are sabotaging your time and impact.
  3. “There-but-not-there-attendee.”  Have you been or sat in a meeting where you were physically there but mentally you weren’t.  You attended just because you were asked to and could not find a way to get out of it.  What a time waster that is.  You can never get that 1 hour back.  What can you do?  It is important before you agree to attend any meeting that you are aware of what is the discussion and what your role is.  Once you are clear and know your contribution, you will need to be physically and mentally present in order to contribute.  If you are not clear or convinced, there is a choice to be made and that choice is to not sabotage your time.
  4. “Help-a-friend-but-the-task-keeps-growing”.  We all want to help a friend.  However, there are some task or some people, where inevitably the task keeps on growing or you don’t get the full picture and when you do, you are too far in to back out.  I am sure that we all those one or two people who have that tendency.  When do you help and when do you say no can be tricky as all of us don’t want to be not helpful.  Getting a full picture of the help required will be useful along with making it clear where your help starts and stops.  For example, I was asked to  help to build a “simple” one-pager summary of a strategy and it’s results and was told that all the information is done and it was just a matter of organising the information.  However, when I started on it, I realised that not all the information was there or available and it became a must bigger “help request” than just helping to format the slide.  Clearly after learning from that experience, I now ask better questions before deciding on whether to help or not.
  5. Being part of a “pity-party”.  Who does not enjoy a good gossip or complaining session?  We all love to hear just how someone has been treated unfairly and poorly and the more people the pity-party attracts the stronger the negativity.  There is only ONE advise to this – STAY AWAY from it.  It takes up time and it serves no real benefit.  In the beginning you might feel like you are being a friend to listen but if it continues, the choice is yours to make – to continue to waste time or to focus back on what is impactful for you to do with your time.

Time is precious.  How we use will determine the outcome and impact we get from it.  Don’t play a part in sabotaging yourself.  Take stock of where you are spending time and determine to change the time and energy allocation.  It will deliver a more productive and impactful outcome for you.  It is better to go home feeling that you have been productive vs. busy.  What are your time wasters?


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