5 Time Management Mistakes Busy People Make

Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.

Peter F. Drucker 


5 Biggest Mistakes Busy People Make With Time Management & Productivity

Thank you for stopping by this blog which is all about the 5 biggest mistakes busy people make when it comes to their time management and productivity.

One of the specialist areas I cover in my coaching is helping people achieve more, but without added stress and not by working longer hours. While working with my clients I have been able to identify the following 5 common mistakes being made time and time again. However, they are so subtle you might not even realise you are making them! 

5 Biggest Mistakes Busy People 

Mistake Number 1: They forget to plan 

Kicking off with mistake number one, busy people forget to plan! Planning is one of those things that is so easy to do but it is often overlooked and neglected. Often  we don't even think to do it. Every Sunday, you need to be planning ahead. Don't just plan one week in advance, but take time to start to plan at least a month in advance. Start using forward planning and foresight, to make sure that you’re organised. Taking time to forward-plan will enable you to avoid missing deadlines, important events and make sure that you don’t leave anything to the last minute. This will boost your productivity because you will be more organised, less stressed and will also know what to prioritise. 

Alice Dartnell Life Success Coach London UK diary on the desk written 'be the change you want to see' plus Calendar

Don't say yes, just because it looks free in your diary

Mistake Number 2: They say yes, just because it looks free in their diary 

This is something that I started to realise this year – I was always saying “yes” to invites if my diary looked free. I assumed if there is nothing in there, I must be able to attend that event, make that meeting or join in the call.

The problem with this is that just because you haven’t got a diary full of meetings, doesn’t actually mean you’re free.  So, you may look at your calendar, and go, ‘oh okay, I’ve got no meetings that day, I’m free’ but you’re not! You’ve got loads of other work that you need to be doing. So, don’t assume that just because it’s not taken up as a slot, as a diary entry or an appointment, that you’ve actually got that time to give.

If this is something you struggle with (like I used to) then block out time for everything. For example, I know after I host an event or workshop, that I will need at least half a day for my follow up work so I block that time off in my diary.


Alice Dartnell Life Success Coach London UK diary on the desk written 'be the change you want to see' plus Calendar plus To Do List

Don't work work from a to-do list!

Mistake Number 3: They work from a to-do list

Busy people make this cardinal sin all the time! And I know it sounds odd me telling you NOT to use a to-do list, but hear me out, because as a busy person, I know you will just add more and more to your to do list… and never get to the end of it! 

What you actually need to be doing is putting events, tasks and other things into your diary as an actual appointment. It is also about putting your non-negotiables in your diary first!

Don’t work from a to-do list alone, instead diarise your to-do list. Ask yourself, the following important questions. When are you doing it? Where are you doing it? Start putting timings and dates into your diary. So, ‘Tuesday 3pm I’m going to be sorting out the car insurance’.

This will stop you from accumulating a never-ending to-do list because each task is now in the diary as an appointment. It will help with your time management and prioritisation of tasks by stopping you from cramming too much in to your day.

A lot of time management gurus advocate putting the most urgent things you need to do at the top of your to-do lists for effective time management. I have always disagreed with this one. Successful time management, after all, is about forward planning and being organised.

My article Why Ditching Your To-Do List Will Increase Your Productivity, explains more about why using to-do lists doesn’t work and how it has a negative impact on your productivity, organisation & also cause anxiety. It also explores how you can transform your productivity by learning how to diarise the tasks you need to do.


Mistake Number 4: They underestimate how long things will take

Taking a step on from putting things into your diary as an appointment, not just a to-do list, this is about allocating timings to that to-do list and to those appointments. It’s really easy to just get carried away with your work, and before you know it, the whole day’s gone! This is particularly true with things like emails that easily can disrupt your day.

When you plan your day, estimate a realistic amount of time to complete each task you have to do. You then have to be strict with yourself. When you get to the end of that timeslot, that’s it and you have to move on to the next thing in your schedule. Always remember the Pareto principle and think 80/20. There are certain activities you do (your 20 percent) that account for the majority (your 80 percent) of your happiness and outputs. Striving for perfection and spending too much time on minor details finishing a task can have a negative impact on your time management and productivity. This technique will help you with your productivity because there’s no time for faffing or procrastination. 

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For me, wellbeing includes a daily 5 minute meditation, as well as exercise and pamper treatments like massages

Mistake Number 5: They neglect their health

And finally, this is the biggest mistake busy people make all the time when it comes to their time management – they don’t look after their health. You HAVE to put your health first because actually, it’s an important part of your time management. 

As I explain in my article, Why Looking After Your Health Improves Your Productivity, poor health habits are one of the ‘Four Thieves’ that can have a serious impact upon your time management & productivity.  Good time management requires you to look after yourself, practice self-care, and take the time to be healthy. You need to be exercising, eating well, getting a good night's sleep and taking sufficient downtime. You’re not going to be as productive or as efficient if you are not feeling well and running on all cylinders. You need to look after yourself physically and mentally so that you can be the best, quickest, most productive version of you.

Make wellbeing a time management habit, and factor those things in first. Make sure you do it as an absolute priority, because that is a habit you need to have in order to be more efficient, effective, productive and focused. 

Successful Time Management and Forward Planning

Successful time management is about forward planning, having the foresight and being organised. Running around in a panicked frenzy doing the urgent things and ‘firefighting’ is not great time management and not great for your blood pressure either!.  Let us learn to diarise our to-do-list, improve our planning, know what to prioritise, don't forget your non-negotiables and remember that good time management requires you to look after your health.

Further Reading

Have you heard of the Pomodoro technique of time management? Read my blog Why Pomodoro Technique Increases Your Productivity, to find out how it will transform your time management and help you be more productive especially if you are working from home.

Are you suffering from burnout ? Are you exhausted  and irritable? Are you showing the early signs of burnout ? Burnout – What it is what the warning signs are and how to prevent it , Dr Eleanor Akaho, shares her personal experiences of burnout, explains signs and symptoms of it and gives her tips how to recover from it.

What is the Link Between Health and Productivity? As I explain in my article, Why Looking After Your Health Improves Your Productivity, poor health habits are one of the ‘Four Thieves’ that can have a serious impact upon your time management & productivityIn the article, I give five top tips for improving your health and productivity including why Pomodoro technique increases your productivity  and the The Unexpected Benefits Of Hydration On Productivity.

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Remember, it is always good positive habits that are going to get you success and move you towards your goal not willpower or education or anything like that. It simply is just good daily habits. So, there you have it! Four easy ways to start creating good habits!

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What My 1-2-1 Clients Are Saying

I initially signed up with Alice to help me with my time management and productivity in my business and everyday life. Alice is a fantastic coach. She is very supportive and kind. I love her honest and straightforward approach. Since working with Alice, I have discovered so many new ways of doing things. She has helped me uncover the root of some of my habitual tendencies and transform them. The amount of care and support she offers is priceless. I highly recommend working with her.   

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This article is written by Alice Dartnell, life and success coach of Alice Dartnell Limited. Alice empowers busy professionals to be successful, transform their lives and achieve more by improving their confidence, mindset and time management.

For more information please see www.alicedartnell.com.

Copyright 2020 Alice Dartnell Limited



This blog is published solely for educational and entertainment purposes. The author and publisher are not offering it as legal, accounting, health care or other professional services advice. While best efforts have been used in preparing this blog, the author and publisher make no representations or warranties of any kind and assume no liabilities of any kind with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be held liable or responsible to any person or entity with respect to any loss or incidental or consequential damages caused, or alleged to have been caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained herein. Every person and company are different, and the advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. Alice Dartnell or Alice Dartnell Limited is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised in this blog. You should seek the services of a competent professional as appropriate. You are responsible for your own choices, actions, and results. Always consult your own General Practitioner if you're in any way concerned about your health.