Common pitfalls in time management
Time Management & Productivity

9 Common Pitfalls To Avoid When Managing Your Time – And What To Do To Overcome Each One

Are you making time management mistakes that cause you headaches?

Ok, maybe it’s not that serious, but still…

Maybe you know this quote –

Time equals life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.

Alan Lakein

It’s so eye-opening.

But in order to conquer the problem you might be having with managing your time, you first need to realize it’s there and uncover what is the major obstacle you may be facing.

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the most common time management mistakes.

Just to let you know, no need to feel bad about it, we all made one of these mistakes or even more – at least at some point in time.

Nobody’s born perfect, and time management is a skill that can be learned.

It also grows and evolves, and constantly adapts to the different changes which we come across in our lives.

So, if you discover yourself somewhere along these lines – great!

(yes, I really mean it, although it may sound strange to you!)

You’ve made the first step on the path to becoming a master of your time (and your life).

And that alone is one small victory.

Therefore – yay to you! 🙂

Before you know it, not only will you accomplish what you intend, but you might even discover you have some spare time in a day, as well.

So, let’s start this transformation!

Here are some of the most deadly time management mistakes.

“I don’t have enough time” mindset

We are all gifted with the same 24h on each day of our lives.

However, some people are quite content with it, while others think (more often than not) they need more time in a day to make everything work.

Sounds familiar?

Chances are, it’s not the time that’s causing you difficulties.

Instead, learning how to effectively manage your tasks could be a problem-solver in this specific case.

(If you want to dig deeper into this particular subject, check out the post Not Enough Time? 6 Reasons Why You Feel So & Ways To Beat Them For Good!)

Not being clear about your tasks and actions

You might find yourself wasting precious time because of one simple reason – lack of direction.

You wake up, know you have a lot to do on that day, but can’t decide what to start doing first.

What is a sequence of actions you should take?

How should you structure those tasks and get them (all?) done?

You might find yourself overthinking these questions, and before you know it, half an hour (or even more!) went by with zero action taken.

Having a goal to work forward to and creating specific action steps you should take each day might help you to overcome this obstacle.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be lost without my goal planner, while goal setting worksheets help me to determine smaller action steps when it’s time for my next big project. 😉

Printable Goal Planner - Set, Plan Out, Track And Achieve Your Goals
Printable Goal Setting Worksheets - set your goals and make a successful action plan

(Want more information about creating and working on your goal? Read Seize The Day And Become Unstoppable – So You Never Again Go Around In Circles.)

Not having a schedule

From time to time, even the persons with a well-developed schedule fall out of it.

It’s not uncommon for some unplanned event to appear all of a sudden and disturb the created rhythm.

However, people with a well-developed schedule quickly bounce back after those moments.

What might cause a (chronic) problem, is a complete lack of a routine.

As an example, I’m sure you’ve noticed how different a day goes by when you wake up a lot later than usual.

(I’m usually guilty for this one on weekends! 🙂 )

Even though giving yourself an occasional “break” from the routine and your typical schedule might be quite beneficial, it’s not a good thing that every other day in your life has a totally different setup.

Changing your schedule too often creates room for leakage of time because you’re constantly dealing with structuring your days in different ways.

It’s a way better option to discover the schedule that works the best for you, and once you find it – stick to it.  

Not following your daily energy rhythm

Even if you created a schedule to follow, it doesn’t mean it’s the one that fits you the best.

You should try to make a schedule that will follow your natural energy levels in a day.

When you’re in a high-energy phase, then is the right time to focus your efforts on more important, mentally demanding work.

A low-energy phase is better suited for manual, low-thought tasks.

Sure, there are times when nobody asks you how much energy you have for a specific job to do – anyone who’s not their own boss knows what I’m talking about here.

However, try to structure the time and the things you have control of.

Even if it’s several hours in a day, if you structure them right, you will see the difference (and the benefits!).

Lousy At Time Management? Defeat Its Common Pitfalls And Become A Time Management Pro. Click To Tweet

Not being synchronized with the meaningful people in your life

Of all the time management mistakes listed here, this one seems unrelated to the issue – or is it?

Allow me to explain.

There are high chances you’re not alone in your life, right?

You have a husband/wife or a boyfriend/girlfriend, kids, family, friends, coworkers…

The people around you inevitably have an impact on your life.

(whether you like it or not!)

To a certain extent, their lives and their duties/tasks/actions influence your own and vice versa.

Therefore, sometimes (if not most of the time) when planning out your time you need to be aware of other people’s plans and timelines.

Otherwise, you risk collision and interruption/disruption of your own workflow.

Even though it’s next to impossible to completely eliminate those events, try to minimize them whenever possible.

Not being disciplined

A little discipline goes a long way.

A lot of discipline goes even further! 🙂

But unfortunately, of all time management mistakes, this one might be the hardest thing to master.

You might create the best routine in the world, awesome action steps to work on, be in touch with your daily energy rhythm, but if you don’t have the discipline to consistently act on those decisions, you won’t get much of all of that.

The way I view it, the biggest threats to keep the discipline on the desired level are lack of motivation and procrastination.

Nevertheless, there is room to work on those two “problems”, and level up your discipline right to the place where it should be.

Inspirational quote - Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you can not get more time.

Not understanding your personal work habits

We are all similar, yet unique in our own ways.

What works for one person, doesn’t mean it’ll be a good recipe for another.

You alone are the only person who knows yourself the best.

You can read 1001 advice on how to structure your days, organize the best, be more productive, or any other topic which interests you, yet out of that 1001 advice just a minor fraction might truly resonate with you.

What am I trying to say here?

When it comes to managing your time (and work) in a day, you should know the way you function.

Here are some questions to think about.

  • Are you capable of jumping straight to the task at the exact moment it comes to your hands, or you need to have a little pre-warm up first?
  • Do you have a good concentration or are you relatively easily distracted?
  • When doing the work, do you function better if you have smaller but more frequent breaks or one larger one?
  • Are you in a position to work alone/in (relative) peace and quiet, or you’re surrounded by others who influence your productivity level?
  • How long can you (meaningfully!) focus on the job in front of you and truly work on it?
  • Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Answers to these questions give discrete insights into the way you should structure your days so you could manage the time and the work you have the most effective way.

If you’re unsure of something, give it a test try in order to know will the proposed method work for you.

You can never tell how it fits you personally until – you try it for yourself!

Underestimating the work in front of you

Ever been faced with this scenario?

“What?… This?! Ha! It’s a piece of cake! I’ll do it in no time!”

And you plan out and arrange everything according to that belief.


When you get to actually do it, it doesn’t function the way you thought it will.

And, as you may know, it almost exclusively turns out you’re running short of time you need to get that “super-easy-quick” job done.

(an unfortunate rule which often happens)

One or two, or (God forbid!) three of those in a day, and it’ll mess your time management (and your inner peace) for good!

Again, I have to say that this too (along with other time management mistakes written here) happens to all of us at some point in life, so don’t feel bad about it.

It might be the first time you’re encountering this task and you don’t have the experience of how long it would take to get it done, or you didn’t factor in possible distractions and “urgencies” along the way, or you procrastinated on it (more than usual at least)…

Here’s a tip that might help you out.

When planning a day, adding a little more time than you would usually allocate to the task in mind should do the trick and resolve this problem.

How To Conquer 9 Most Common Mistakes In Time Management And Make The Most Out Of Your Days Click To Tweet

Not setting boundaries (and sticking to them!)

I’ve started this whole post with a statement: master time – master life.

Yet it appears all that’s written here speaks only about work, work, work…

Where is the rest of life there?

(unless work is the only thing in your life, but I highly doubt it…)

There is no denial, work is a big and important part of our lives, but it shouldn’t be the only one worth living and mentioning.

This final mistake (and advice) speaks about managing the time in a way that’ll help you live a balanced life.

(whatever balance might mean to you – yeah, that one is also a stretchy category…)

Try to set the boundaries for large categories in your day/week.

What I mean by it is: work time, “me” time, family/fun time.

Say, work 9-5 during the workdays, “me” time 1 hour prior to bed each day, (almost) whole Sunday for the family/fun time, Saturday – 3 hours work time and 5 hours family/fun time.

(clearly, this is just a quick, random example to give you a brief description of what I mean by it. you should take some time to think more about it when creating your own time blocks in a day)

Once you’ve decided on their duration and schedule – stick to it.

I know, it’s fun having fun (and you might not be super enthusiastic to get back to work after it), or you’re in a creative flow and want to maximally use the burst of inspiration you have at the moment.

I’m well aware of what it’s like when the work (or fun) pulls you in.

It can be really hard to turn your back on it!

We’re all humans, so it happens – and it will still happen who knows how many times in the future.

However, continuing to work longer on a specific task or giving yourself more free time in a day should be an exception, not a rule.

You do it once because (excuse #1), other time is because (excuse #2), the third time because you’ve already done it twice in the past, so it won’t be long before the fourth, fifth, sixth time… come along.

That way you’re quickly disrupting your schedule and habits for which you’ve worked so hard to form.

(speaking of habits, here are some great habit tracker benefits, so consider using one if not already)

Overall, try to develop and maintain a healthy balance that works for you and the people you care about.

If not doing it already, try this out.

Add some quick self-care activities to your days.

It will make you feel better and more positive, so you’ll be more willing to deal with everything else you have in a day.

(and don’t think you don’t have the time for it – read this if you don’t believe me)

My point is – make a room in your life for all that matters to you and you’ll be the happiest person on the planet.

(ok, I’m maybe a little bit exaggerating, but it’s pretty close to it! 🙂 )

That’s it so far – most common time management mistakes!

What about you? Found something interesting along the lines?

What is your most painful spot when it comes to time management?

Let me know in the comments below, so we could work together and bust it! 😉

Pssst... Here are more related posts just for you, dear! 😉

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  1. Finding balance can really be a problem. I often find myself side-tracked. I really need to learn to set limits and prioritize what is most important.

    1. Yes, prioritizing is super-important! If you don’t have enough time, picking the most important task and getting it done is the best thing you can do for yourself in that day! 😉

  2. I love this list. I could not agree more!

    1. Glad you liked it, Emily. Thanks! 🙂

  3. My hardest problem when managing my time is discipline. I usually know what I have to do and how much time I have, but getting myself into the task is the most difficult.

    1. I know, it’s oftentimes really the hardest thing to do. For me, it helps to keep an eye on the “prize” ahead. And, of course, just to force myself to do what I have to, despite what I might feel about it.

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