Eliminate Bad Time Management With These 3 Questions

by Carthage Buckley, Stress and Performance Coach

There is something you will need to understand about bad time management. Bad time management will lead to more bad time management. If you have bad time management skills, you need to do something about it. If you don’t you will soon find the situation escalating and, it will continue to escalate until either you take corrective action or, you suffer some serious consequences e.g. stress, disciplinary procedures etc. When you are inconvenienced by somebody with bad time management skills, they often shrug their shoulders and simply say ‘I am bad at time management’ as if that excuses their tardiness. For those of us who work on our time management, this is incredibly infuriating.

We all have at least one friend who wears their bad time management skills like it’s a badge of honour. I remember during my teens when I was very much into weight training. I used to train every evening. I had a friend who had nobody to help him while lifting heavy weights so I used to call up to help him when I finished training. Despite having arranged a time, he would never be ready to train when I arrived. Eventually, I had enough so I told him that if he wasn’t ready on the next occasion, I was going to go home and leave him without help in future. When that time arrived, he was not ready so I told him I wouldn’t be helping him in future and walked home. I will always remember him and his sisters looking at me as if I was evil for not wasting any more of my time. Everybody else was expected to accept that they would have to dance to his tune but I couldn’t accept that.

From reading the example above, you may think that my friend had bad time management skills and, you would be right. What you may not realise is that I also had bad time management skills. I had not taken the time to consider how much time would be required to help him nor how much time I was prepared to give. For example, had I decided that I was only prepared to give 1 hour; as soon as the hour was up on the first night, I would have left regardless of whether he was finished or not. My friend would then have known that if he wanted my help, he would have to abide by the agreed time.

This is one the biggest ways in which bad time management leads to more bad time management. If you are struggling with bad time management, you are unlikely to thoroughly consider what is required from you before you accept a task or project. This means that you are likely to accept more work than you can handle which further exacerbates the problem.

Important questions to ask

One of the best tools for overcoming bad time management is questions. Before you accept a task, you can ask the following 3 questions to help you decide whether you should accept the task or not. The few minutes it takes will save you large amounts of time.

1. Does it need to be done?

There are far too many tasks which get done for no other reason than they have always been done. This is the worst possible reason for doing something. Each and every task must add value. If it doesn’t, then it is a waste of time and should not be completed.

I am involved with a sports club. Everybody who helps out is a volunteer and we are blessed to have some fantastic volunteers. Recently, I had to inform the committee that there were a couple of tasks which I could no longer do. Rather than delegate the tasks to somebody else, I asked them to consider whether the tasks needed to be done at all. After all, why burden somebody else with unnecessary work.

2. Am I the right person to do it?

Before you accept a task, you really need to ascertain whether it is you who should be doing it. Does it fit within your job description and do you have the skills necessary to complete the task.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is great to help others out but if you are doing it on a weekly basis, somebody else isn’t doing their job. If that is the case, you are not helping anybody by taking on the extra work because you are over extending yourself while covering up for somebody else’s poor performance.

3. What is involved?

Those with bad time management tend to accept tasks and projects without considering what is involved. By taking the time to consider all of the work involved, you will be able to work out the following:

  • Is the deadline realistic?
  • How many hours will you have to commit?
  • Do you have the necessary skills?
  • Will you need help?
  • Do you have the time to do it?

Taking the time to consider everything up front allows you to see the potential pitfalls, to realise the full extent of the work and to make an educated decision about whether you should accept the work or not. Even if you have to take the work on, you will be in a better situation to negotiate a realistic time frame and ensure that the necessary resources are made available. A little planning up front prevents a lot of problems further down the line.

Before investing your valuable time (and possibly, money) in a project or task, you should analyse it carefully to see if it’s worth the time and effort you’ll be spending. If you have bad time management skills you may not be asking the necessary questions before taking work on. This leads to you over extending yourself. Not only will you get less done, you will end up making more rushed decisions about accepting work without giving it proper consideration. This only serves to make the situation worse. The three questions, outlined above, will help yo to determine whether you should accept a task, and how best to manage it if you do.

About the author
Carthage Buckley is a Stress and Performance Coach who helps entrepreneurs, management and driven professionals to identify and eliminate the sources of stress while developing and implementing strategies to realise their objectives and create a happy, healthy and successful life.
The principle philosophy of Carthage’s coaching is that the individual can shape their own world, rather than waiting for their world to shape them. Working from the inside out, it is perfectly possible for each person to create their own life, allowing them to fulfil their personal desires while living in harmony with the world around them.

Carthage has lived and worked in 5 countries and continues to work with clients all around the world, both in person and via the Internet.