Just because your calendar is full doesn't mean that you're an effective time manager. It just means that you have a full diary. As a result you're probably stressed and running around like a maniac.
Time and calendar management can influence all aspects of your life. It's important to be on the lookout for the following seven signs that things may not be going as well as you think.
Once you become an effective manager of your schedule you won't just become a time and calendar boss. You will begin you feel more professional and you'll become more happy and satisfied in your life.
1. Poor punctuality.
Are you the type of person who is always late for appointments or missing important deadlines? It's probably because you've either committed to too many tasks or you don't have the ability to designate the right amount of time to your activities.
Since poor punctuality typically impacts everyone around you, it can have a negative impact on the quality of your relationships. In fact, punctuality is generally considered a sign of respect.
If you have the habit of running late for a meeting, for example, it shows that you don't respect the other person enough to be on-time.
"Repetitive lateness is more often related to personality characteristics such as anxiety or a penchant for thrill-seeking," says Diana DeLonzor, author of Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged.
"Some people are drawn to the adrenaline rush of that last-minute sprint to the finish line. Others receive an ego boost from over-scheduling and filling each moment with activity."
If you want to be more punctual, DeLonzor suggests that you work on developing these four habits:
Relearn to tell time.
"If once, 10 years ago, they made it to work in 20 minutes, they believe that's how long it should take," she says. "They forget about the 99 percent of the times that took 30 minutes."
In order to develop realistic habits, you must relearn to tell time. Start by writing down how long you think it takes to shower and get ready in the morning. Then how long to commute to work? For a week, track how long these tasks really take.
Give yourself buffer time.
Punctual people are typically early, says DeLonzor. "Being late makes them stressed out and they don't like feeling rushed," she says. "Late people get stressed out from being late too, but they don't strive to be early; they tend to time things to the minute."
For instance, if a meeting start at 9am, a punctual person will be there at 8:45. This way they won't run late in case of an unforeseen situation, like a traffic accident or road repairs on their way to work.
DeLonzor says that 45 percent of everything people do daily is automatic. "Our lives are filled with habits -- from the way you brush teeth to how you get dressed and leave for work," she says, adding that they're necessary. "If we didn't do things automatically, it would take us forever to get through our day."
Those who are on-time analyze their daily activities, set routines, and stick to them.
Be comfortable with down time.
Since punctual people arrive early, this gives them some down time. For example, arriving to a meeting fifteen minutes early allows them to catch up on emails, review notes, or simply enjoy the solitude.
2. You don't put yourself first.
"You need to be proactive instead of reactive to your calendar. Schedule your time first and only then accept appropriate requests from others,' suggests Craig Jarrow, the author of Time Management Ninja.
"If you make the mistake of not blocking your calendar in advance, you will find that it fills up entirely with other peoples' priorities -- not yours."
3. Not having or prioritizing to-do-lists.
"To-do-lists can be a great way to help you remember tasks and stay organized so that you can get the most out of your day. The only downside with to-do-lists is that they can easily get loaded with multiple tasks that you probably won't get to in just a single day," writes Due's Angela Ruth.
"Every morning you should look over your to-do-list and identify the two or three most important tasks for the day. These are the most essential tasks that have to be completed before the end of the day.
"These may includes tasks like completing a blog post or having a phone conference with a potential client. Once these tasks are accomplished, you can start working on the other items -- even if it's not due until tomorrow."
As long as you have "crossed off your most vital tasks, you've already had a fruitful day."
4. Making frequent excuses.
"It's a fact that even though it takes time to plan, you save more time by planning than when you don't. Be honest with yourself, how often do you find yourself saying 'I don't have time?'" writes Kirstin O'Donovan for Addicted2Success.
Remember, each and every one of us have 24 hours in a day. So, "it's not time that is lacking, it is your ability to manage it effectively."
"Let's agree, the super successful individuals always find a way. They don't entertain the excuse of 'I don't have time,' they find the time. If this is you, firstly, there is nothing empowering about excuses.
"So, what needs to change? What do you need to change about the way you are being and doing things to have more time?"
"Start by identifying your time thieves and what you can do to eliminate them. Nothing holds us back in life more than the lies we tell ourselves -- called excuses."
What happens when you have multiple options? You're probably unable to choose an option and just go with it. Instead, you excessively go over the options without coming to a conclusion -- which is just a waste of time.
Remember, most decisions aren't that important. You can always change directions further down the road if you have to. That's why Mark Zuckerberg wore the same outfit in the early days of Facebook -- it eliminated the energy wasted on choosing an outfit.
While you shouldn't overstuff your calendar, using it correctly structures your daily schedule so you're not faced with multiple options everyday.
6. You're putting in more time but getting less done.
This isn't just a sign that you're not managing your calendar or time effectively, it's also a red flag that you're overworked.
Think about it. You've passed the limits of your peak performance and now you end up with diminishing returns. As a result, you put in more time to complete items on your to-do list since it takes longer for you to cross-off each item.
Tracking your time is a great place to start. It allows you to realize how long certain tasks take to complete. For example, if a blog post normally takes your two hours, now it's taking three or four, then you know something isn't right. Watch for the signs that something is off.
We've found at Calendar that people tend to be 18% more productive when they block off time for specific activities outside of meetings.
7. You can't say 'no.'
Sure. It's great to help others. But if you're always helping others, then you're not left with much time for yourself.
Constantly saying "yes" only leaves you with an excessive workload for others. As such, you don't have the time to get your other things done. One of the most effective to improve your time management is to be assertive and learn to say "no."
It may be tough at first, but it's better than letting others down in the long-run or burning yourself out.