5 Time management mistakes busy people make

Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.
Peter F. Drucker 

average reading time – 6 minutes

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 the added stress and not by working longer hours. I see the following 5 mistakes being made by busy people time and time again. They are so subtle you might not even realise you are making them! 

Time Management 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’s also so easy not to, therefore we often don’t event think to do it. Every Friday or every Sunday, (however you see the end of the week), you need to be planning ahead. Don’t just plan one week in advance, but start to plan at least two weeks in advance. Start using forward planning and foresight, to make sure that you’re organised. You need to forward-plan so that you don’t miss deadlines, important things and that you don’t leave anything to the last minute. This will boost your productivity because you will be more organised, will be less stressed and will 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

Time Management 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 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/join in the call etc.

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 things. For example, I know after I host an event or workshop, I need at least half a day (usually longer) for my follow up work. I block that time off in my diary now.


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!

Time Management 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 

Time Management 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. Allocate estimated time to it. How long is it going to take you? And when you get to the end of that timeslot, that’s it! You’re moving on to the next thing. This will massively help you with your productivity because there’s no time for faffing or procrastination!


Alice Dartnell Life Success Coach London healthy miracle morning yoga meditation , Sri Lanka - tips to feel better - time management

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

Time Management Mistake Number 5: They neglect wellness

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 your wellbeing. This used to be me as well and this is something I’ve hugely had to learn over the last 12 months. You HAVE to put your wellbeing first because actually, it’s good for time management.

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 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 (nor great for your blood pressure!).  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.

What does it take to successfully work from home?

Alice Dartnell Life Success Coach Consultation London How To Work From Home green blue  book kindle cover

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Lets work together! I can help YOU with  my 1-2-1 coaching, group coaching and my bespoke but life changing courses.

Let’s Work Together

If you are serious about wanting to make life-long changes and positively transform your life, then I would love to hear from you to see how I can support you.

I have helped a range of people on a huge variety of goals – from suffering with confidence loss, to publishing a book, to enabling a change of direction in life, to small business owners struggling with staff – but my main focus is to support the busy professional who is trying to juggle it all.

I can help YOU through  my 1-2-1 coaching, group coaching and my bespoke but life changing courses.  Let’s Work Together.  Sounds good? Take a look at my website to find out more!

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Other Blog Articles on My Web Site

Below are links to other blog articles that you might be interested to read.

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Are you a secret self-sabotger? Me too! Here are my tips for how to stop self-sabotaging today



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If you asked me what was one of the things I was most proud about in my corporate career, apart from moving up the ladder fairly quickly, it would also probably be my work-life balance.



Alice Dartnell Life Success Coach London UK working on her lap top developing her blog at Naha Airport, Okinawa, JapanWhy ‘SMART’ goals  are stupid (How to improve Goal Setting)

When it comes to goal setting, you’ll have heard about SMART goals.  But if SMART goals are the way to do it, then why do so many of us not achieve our goals?  Here is why SMART goals are stupid and some top tips how you can improve your goal setting!




The real secret to success (and it isn’t what you think it is)

The way to achieve success and get your goal isn’t to do with what you might think. It has nothing to do with willpower, determination or how many degrees you’ve got. It is about the daily discipline of habits. 




Like this article? Then why not share it on social media? Also, check out the “resources” section of www.alicedartnell.com and download the free guide and checklist to goal writing. 


How I can help you!

If you are serious about changing your life, making improvements or reaching your goals, then professional support is for you. Find out more what services I offer, including 1-2-1 coaching on this website. I work with busy professionals to empower them to transform their lives and achieve more, predominantly looking at confidence, mindset and time management. 



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.