Procrastination and the thieves of time: eight reasons you can’t get any work done

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 - 10:54

Today was going to be the day. You had eight hours of quality, nose-to-the-grindstone time that you were going to maximise every minute of. The day would be over and you’d be on your way home with a sense of quiet satisfaction from the way you crossed priority tasks off your ever growing list.

Now it’s 5:30pm, you’ve got a bus to catch and you’re wondering where the day went. You haven’t even crossed item one off your list and it’s grown by another seven tasks. How are you ever going to get anything done?

The good news is you’re not alone. All of us struggle to get our work completed during normal working hours sometimes. While you can’t take responsibility for every interruption or setback that appears during your day, by being aware of some of the reasons you’re running out of time, you can put steps in place to mitigate them and win the daily battle with your to-do list. The following are the most common but avoidable time wasters. Make a plan to eliminate these and you’re on your way to success.

1.Not setting goals - High personal achievement comes from having long-term, short-term and immediate goals as well as a will to achieve them. As the old saying goes ‘A person who aims at a target of nothing, hits it remarkably often.’

2.Lack of prioritising and planning - Many people let things just happen to them. They become victims of crisis. Things go wrong and they continually need to ‘put out fires’. They may jot down things to do and try to do them but get caught in the ‘activity trap’.

3.Saying ‘yes’ when you should say ‘no’ - Often, people approach you to help them achieve their priorities. You should politely refuse if the request is not important to you and your role.

4.No system - Another cause of wasted time is the failure to approach tasks systematically, finishing a task or one part of a task before going on to others. Have you ever stopped in your tracks and thought ‘now where was I going?’ Avoiding this pattern requires concentration and sticking to your priorities.

5.Holding onto tasks that could be reallocate You can’t do everything yourself, and it’s not strategic to do so. Look for opportunities to reallocate work.

6.Failure to communicate - Again and again, it has been found that poor communication is the root cause of wasted effort. Either the person giving direction did not listen in the first place, or instructions weren’t accurately communicated to those who were to carry them out.

7.Interruptions - Most managers find that the telephone, the ‘quick question’, the social comment and the hastily called meeting are important thieves of time.

8.Fatigue and related problems - We’re all human and find ourselves daydreaming, losing concentration and procrastinating. Long days, stressful and confusing jobs, and poor physical condition can all make the situation worse.

AIM’s Time Management short course gives you the tools and techniques to maximise your effectiveness, minimise wasted time and control your workload. This course will enable you to develop the skills to analyse workloads, prioritise tasks, overcome procrastination and create time management systems to increase productivity and effectiveness.

If you’re looking for a sneak peek at this course, AIM is offering you the opportunity to connect to a world of learning opportunities with our first Online Open Day. Set for Friday 4 December, you are invited to check out AIM’s most popular management and leadership short courses, new online courses and a sample of our postgraduate offerings, all from the comfort of your office or home through a variety of webinar info sessions. Hear about the courses directly from our best in class Facilitators and have your questions answered. Register for as many half-hour sessions as you like from the day’s schedule, simply by clicking here.