What are some of the biggest time management mistakes that people make, and how can they be avoided? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
The only reason I can even speak about time management mistakes is because I've made them all. And it was in the process of defeating distraction that I discovered better and worse ways to use my time--and identify the mistakes I was making. Here are four:
1) Not treating time as valuable. It was centuries ago that the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote "People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time, they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy." Oh how little things have changed. I'd argue that we treat time and attention as cheap commodities, and we all need to raise our prices. Once I really began to pay attention to the distractions in my day, I realized just how much of my life insignificant things were chewing up.
2) Not making a daily schedule. This fact astonished me: according to one study, only a third of Americans keep a daily schedule. That means they are waking up with no plan for how they are going to use their day. That, to me, is a big red flag--and an easily fixable problem that can help people reclaim their lives and time.
3) Using an open-ended to-do list to manage our time. I used to do this as well: I would list all the things I needed to get done in some document or on a scrap of paper, and then at the end of the day, I'd get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach from not having finished everything up. There are better and worse ways to make to-do lists (I cover some of this in my book), but I'd argue that simply listing everything that you need to do is a mistake.
4) Not making time for our values. In many cases, even if we do use a schedule, we use it for tasks. "Go pick up the dry cleaning." "Finish that section of the report." "Go for a run." It's rare that we think about our schedule in terms of values--and I argue in my writing that one of the biggest shifts in my life is making sure that my schedule reflects what I say I value. That's important: you can look at my schedule and see from it what matters to me.
This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter and Facebook. More questions: