Being busy versus being productive. That’s the war between exhibiting poor time management skills and utilizing exemplary time management skills. There are 24 hours in a day, eight of which we should be resting, leaving us approximately 16 hours of pure potential. If you are serious about being more productive with your time, it would behoove you to carefully analyze which of the following poor time management skills you might be allowing to interfere with your daily routine.


Probably the most common poor time management skill, procrastination kills progress. You can make all the to-do lists in the world, but if you don’t act on them nothing will ever get done. Procrastinators will argue they work better under pressure. However, that’s simply an excuse for being lazy and putting things off until the last minute. Procrastinators are habitually swimming upstream, against the current.

Basically, they make tasks harder on themselves. When they are eventually stressed enough with a deadline right around the corner, they will finally get started on the project. But not without repercussions. Now they are forced to be rushed and then get impatient when things don’t go smoothly.

If procrastination is plaguing you, the first step is figuring out why you do it. Don’t feel knowledgeable about the project? Did you bite off more than you can chew? Have problems strategizing? Is disorganization causing the delay? After you determine the “why” you can work on disarming it.

Being Late

Successful people show up early or on time and are rarely late. Being late is disrespectful of others’ time and a misuse of their own time. This includes way more than showing up for work late. Turning in projects late, missing important deadlines and popping into the meeting after it’s already started are prime examples.

Effective time management strategies are about making the most of time, right? If it’s not important enough for you to be punctual, it’s better to decline than accept and be late.


Expecting perfection of yourself is time-consuming; expecting it from others is ridiculous. And no one wants to work with someone who will never be happy with the results or who belittles them for failing to match their own impossibly high standards.

Let it go. No one is perfect. A good job done on time is preferred over a “perfect” job that never gets done.

Ill-Defined Goals

If you can’t set solid, realistic goals, how in the world can you prioritize them? Setting clearly defined goals is a keystone in time management. Knowing the goal is the foundation of the entire operation. If the foundation is underdeveloped or unstable, the whole project fails. It’s impossible to monitor progress or make modifications when plans aren’t fully developed due to an ambiguous goal.

Not Saying “No”

Many people struggle with saying “no” to management, and even colleagues, asking for this or that and needing it yesterday. It’s like a catch-22; are you going to feel bad for saying no or are you going to feel worse for not getting it done? Or what’s worse, you get the task done for them and now you don’t have time to complete something on your own to-do list.

You don’t have to be rude about saying no. In fact, you can simply suggest another colleague might be better equipped for the task. Chances are the one inquiring would be delighted to turn tail and give it to the one they now believe will do a better job.

Poor Performance

Quantity over quality is a terrible habit and a desperate attempt at time management. Is the teacher who grades 100 spelling tests in an hour performing at a higher level than the teacher who grades two research papers in the same hour? Of course not!

The research papers are worth far more points than a weekly spelling test. Rushing through unimportant tasks at the bottom of the to-do list when the higher priority items haven’t been touched isn’t a good use of time.


A huge factor in poor time management is losing focus to distractions. We tend to think multitasking is uber-productive, yet it’s quite the opposite. If you’ve got multiple windows up on your computer screen and your smartphone buzzing every 10 seconds with a new notification while you are attempting to work on a task, you’re not utilizing your time very wisely.

Turn the cell on silent. Log out of the social media sites. Stop spreading yourself so thin. A project that should only take one hour will likely take more than three hours if you aren’t careful.

Poor time management isn’t just about the workplace. It applies to every aspect of our lives, including our personal relationships. Stress also increases when we fail to make the most of each day. Avoid wasting time being busy instead of productive; don’t be a victim of poor time management skills.