A quick Google search for “time-management tips” yields over three billion results. The worst part – many of those are common time-management myths that may make you work harder than necessary.
This doesn’t mean you should give up on time management. Instead, you just have to separate fact from fiction and learn what works best for you.
The Same Tips Work for Everyone
This is the most dangerous of all time-management myths. Often, you’ll see lists of time-management strategies of the top CEOs. The message is clear: if you want to be successful, do exactly what they do. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with their advice, such as what these 27 CEOs do, that doesn’t mean their tips will work for you.
Does this sound familiar? You spend hours trying to perfect a certain strategy. Instead of being more productive, you’re frustrated, behind on work, and pulling your hair out wondering why you can’t get this right.
Take any time management tips you see as a suggestion versus a rule. Do you get stressed out if you try to schedule things the night before? Do it the next day. Do time management techniques like the Pomodoro Technique leave you feeling rushed? Set your own time periods.
To-Dos and Scheduling Fix Everything
Almost any time-management list will mention scheduling and/or making to-do lists. They’re common strategies and effective. However, if you spend all your time making lists and scheduling every minute of your day, you may find that you run out of time.
Plus, all the lists in the world won’t help if you just don’t have the time to get it all done. If you’re trying to squeeze things in, this isn’t time management. You need breaks throughout the day.
This doesn’t mean you should completely give up on scheduling and to-do lists. Instead, use them to figure out where all your time’s going. Are there any tasks you can delegate to a co-worker, friend, or relative? Are there any tasks you could say “no” to? Odds are, you’re taking on too much, which only makes it harder to get the things you need to do done.
You feel overwhelmed, you’re tired, and you dread each new task. Every task takes much longer than it should. Use scheduling to eliminate unnecessary tasks and free up small periods for breaks and things you enjoy. Having that balance is more important than trying to do it all.
Do More in Less Time
You’ve heard this before. While being more productive does help you do more in less time, it doesn’t mean you should rush through things or try to multitask. Multitasking is one of the biggest time-management tips. Why? Only around two percent of the population multitasks successfully. Odds are you’re probably in the 98 percentile like I am. My idea of multitasking is attempting to exercise while watching TV.
In fact, every time you try to switch between tasks while multitasking, you’re losing up to 40 percent of your productivity. The lesson behind this all too common myth is to stop trying to do as much as possible at one time. If you focus on just one task at a time, you’ll finish faster, which does allow you to accomplish more.
While technically this myth is true, it’s all about how you do it. You’ll always accomplish one task faster than you will trying to do two at the same time.
Everyone Should Have the Same Schedule
Depending on your job and personal life, you may not have a choice of the time frame you work in. However, one of the more annoying time-management myths is that everyone should have the same schedule.
Everyone has their own productive period during the day. You may work great first thing in the morning, while someone else is most productive late in the afternoon. Whenever possible, save your hardest tasks for your own specific productive period. You’ll finish faster, and the quality of your work will be better.
You don’t have to do what everyone else does. Pay attention to what works for you and only use time-management tips as general guidelines to help you learn to work smarter versus harder.