4 time-management myths you should forget17 Jul 2018
When I think about workplace myths that never seem to die, those around time management always come to mind. Somehow these half-baked and misinformed ideas seem to persist in offices around the country, taking the space in people’s minds where good time-management advice should sit.
Once you’ve finished this article, however, they’ll no longer exist in yours. Here are four time management myths you should no longer believe.
Myth 1 – Flexible working hours are unproductive
It’s not uncommon for controlling managers to think that good work only gets done in an office during normal working hours (a belief they could overcome by taking one of our management courses). Everyone is different and therefore we are all more or less productive at a different moment. Keeping you employees at work at their least productive hours spells a lot of wasted time and lost productivity.
Flexible working conditions can allay much of this time wasting. We’ve all had those times where we sit at our desks achieving nothing, only because the conventions of the working day say we have to stay there and stick it out. But if you could choose your own hours, you could take a break when your brain’s just not playing ball and come back to it when you’re feeling more up to the task.
Flexible working solutions obviously don’t work for all jobs and aren’t the solution to everything. But it’s a myth that flexible working hours are unproductive, as they can bring time-management benefits to many employees.
Myth 2 – The hours you put into something determines its worth
Spending more time on something doesn’t always make it better. While it’s true that things can always be improved, there comes a point where more time investment doesn’t really pay off.
Working long hours is often not a sign of high productivity at all. For one, you run the risk of burnout. If that happens, your productivity plummets to zero. The slightly less drastic consequence is that your productivity goes down because you’re spending more time on a task than is really necessary. If you take twice as long to do something as it needs, it means you’ve been half as productive.
Dividing your time over a selected group of tasks rather than trying to work more hours to finish everything is a quick solution. Not only will it help you to prevent you from working at your lowest productivity – chances are it will also make you happier for not spending most of your time at work.
Myth 3 – A to-do list is necessary for a productive day
The truth of today’s working world is that you’re always going to have more to do. The idea that you could ever get to a point where everything is done is a dangerous one for your morale. You’re simply setting yourself up for failure if you think that way. While I enjoy the satisfaction of completing every task on my list, I don’t let that be the thing that lets me go home satisfied with what I achieved during the day. Making a list a ‘must finish’ might be a good strategy for a day, but it won’t pay off long term – things are inevitably going to slip into the next day and a sustainable time management system has to take this into account.
Don’t let the completion of a to-do list be the metric for whether a day’s productive or not.
Myth 4 – Start your day with easy tasks to build momentum
I’ll admit, the thought on this one is seductive – getting some easy wins under your built can make you feel better about tackling the big one that’s difficult and important. The problem with doing this is that you end up spending so much time early in the day on the easy and inconsequential stuff. By the time you need to tackle the big ones, your motivation tanks will be running much lower. How many times have you left something to the last minute of the day and find that you have to push it to the next day because you’re too tired? I know it’s happened to me enough that I now try to front-load my day with the tough stuff.
To learn more about the time management training we offer here at ICML, get in touch with a member of the team today.