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The Effects of Poor Time Management

  Written by Kerry Watts

Time. It’s the one thing you really can’t get back. And when we hear the term “time management”, we often think of it in relation to the work environment. But the negative ramifications of not being able to manage our time properly extend way beyond the borders of the office. For those who are not adept at prioritizing tasks, failing to get to grips with managing time properly can lead to a lack of self-esteem, relationship strain, and an overall unhappiness with life that stems from having poor focus. It can even end up affecting our health, if left “untreated”.

So have you ever wondered if you’re one of the unfortunate victims of your own time management failings? Well, here are some of the telltale symptoms and their inevitable consequences.

Struggling to get there on time

Always late for meetings/dates/catch-ups with friends? If you find that, no matter how hard you try, you’re never on time, you’re most definitely not making best use of the time you have.

Poor punctuality can be laughed off, to a point. Particularly in those friendly relationships. But perpetual punctuality issues will eventually eat away at our credibility and cause tempers to fray.

This, of course, is particularly problematic in terms of career, but we need to spare a thought for our loved ones too. Tardiness doesn’t just make us late, it impinges on the time of others, if they have to pick up our slack—or the children from school. So it’s vital to learn ways of managing our daily diaries so that we’re not falling behind and, by osmosis, causing others to be late for what’s important in their lives.

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Forever rushing around

This is something of a by-product of punctuality issues but rushing everywhere—in and of itself—can begin to place real mental pressure on us if it happens too frequently. Being late for something triggers our ‘flight or fight’ response, our adrenaline kicks in, and our stress levels rise.

Whilst a little adrenaline can do us good, in certain circumstances, too much stress response can eventually weaken our immune system and put strain on our vital organs. Not to mention that stress just doesn’t feel great!

Lacking patience and feeling irritable

When our minds aren’t clear and focused we have a tendency to become easily riled. Here’s an analogy. We’re in a supermarket, piling items into our basket—until the handle snaps and the contents spill all over the floor, shooting in every direction.

Now imagine that a wife/husband/friend/boss, comes and throws a couple more items on the floor for us to pick up. What would a normal human reaction be? Anger? Irritability? More than likely! So the trick is not to load our baskets so full that we don’t have the facility in place to carry everything.

Hemorrhaging energy

Constantly playing catch-up, plunders our energy resources. Which means we end up falling even further behind because we don’t have enough “fuel in the tank” to keep the momentum going.

There’s only so long that anyone can keep up with the pressures of life once the tank is empty. And that’s where burnout happens.

Failing to set goals

An overstretched mind is a chaotic one. And the more we throw into the mix, the less we’re able to be clear about what’s important.

Up close, in our day-to-day lives, prioritizing what needs to get done first becomes trickier than it ought to be. Zoom out a little—to the week, month, or year ahead—taking into account the many other burdens that are added to our list, and it soon become impossible to make any kind of sense of the mess in front of us. This can make it nigh on impossible to work out what we want, or need, to achieve in the long run.

Finding it hard to make decisions

Time management is an exercise in prioritizing. And poor time management is the blight of those who find it hard to prioritize. Ultimately, when we can’t figure out what needs to happen next we reach a sort of mental stalemate.

Indecision can end up placing the burden of judgement onto others just that bit too often, and there are two problems with this. Firstly, we end up giving figurative (or perhaps literal!) power of attorney to someone else. From the incidentals like; “where should we go for dinner?”, to the really big stuff like; “should we move house?”. And once we’re in the cycle, it becomes hard to break.

Secondly, we risk straining relationships by asking the other person to do all of the legwork. Our friends and partners are just that; our friends and partners. They’re not our PAs! And the only person who really knows what you want, is you.

Failing to perform

Rolling on from indecision is incompetence. When we stop taking accountability for our own choices we start dropping the ball.

To use an exaggerated scenario, consider the military. Military personnel have to make split-second judgements, often, as part of their role. Indecision in a situation like this can mean the difference between life and death. And, OK, so not knowing what to have for dinner isn’t going to get anyone killed, but if we can’t reach decisions at work—or we can’t juggle our priorities at home so that we can spend a weekend with our family—we’re failing to deliver as individuals.

Feeling that nothing’s ever quite good enough

They might seem juxtaposed, but poor time management and perfectionism share a deep link. Because, whilst perfectionism sounds like a fabulous quality to have, it can undermine our efforts when it’s taken to the extreme—resulting in “analysis-paralysis”.

According to Psychology Today perfectionists “often get hung up on meaningless details and spend more time on projects than is necessary”. By comparison, those who can manage to distinguish between what’s really important and what isn’t, tend to be far more productive.

Outside of the office, perfectionism can become an insidious force on our close personal relationships. Our loved ones begin to feel unappreciated and alienated, when we constantly set too high an expectation of them.

So that’s the symptom checker! If this sounds like you, now’s the time to try and get a handle on your time management skills—so that you can have more energy, be more productive, and lead a healthier, happier, life.

Want to Manage Your Time Better?

We have online courses with full 12-months' access.
RRP from $229 – limited time offer just $49



[1] Perfectionism: Impossible Dream

[general ref] Being “Too Good” Can Wreak Havoc on Your Time Management

[general ref] 11 Symptoms of Poor Time Management

[general ref] How does time management affect my health?
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