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4 Time Robbers that are Wrecking your Progress

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4 Time Robbers that are Wrecking your Progress

4 Time Robbers that are Wrecking your Progress

A post from our Time Management blog

      Written by Ronnie Peterson
The biggest wake-up call I have ever received, was when my older brother decided to be brutal with me. I simply was not ready for him telling me that "You are the biggest under achiever that this school has ever had!"Maybe you're shocked like I was. How could a brother say that? How cruel! All those things went through my head, and for about a week I was really angry. Then I started to consider if it had any justification. If I was to be the biggest underachiever that my school had ever had, was I even underachieving? Well, yes. I even used to joke about it.

But was I underachieving massively? The more I thought about it, the more I agreed.

The problem was, it took me a further ten years to do anything about it.

The one set of statistics that I would really like to see somebody produce (if it was possible) was a ratio of over achievers versus underachievers. Perhaps an experiment that people could do in the future is to go to school reunions, and poll people on whether their colleagues had ended up doing more, or less, than they had expected them to.

Without stats though, I just have to go with my gut, and I bet that there are way more people underachieving than there are those overachieving. So what's wrecking their progress?

I want to cover some items that may be wrecking your progress, in both your career and personal life. The two go hand in hand after all.

1. Procrastination

I worked in banking for most of the 1990s. Most of those had not been happy years. And yet, despite asking for transfers from one branch to another, I had not done anything about leaving and finding something more suitable and rewarding. Eventually, in 2000, I resigned and changed career. My life has been the better for it. So, whatever you're continually putting off, find the strength within yourself and self motivate to act.

Regardless of whether it is asking for a promotion, or an increase, or a transfer, or even to hang it up and leave to go somewhere else, it's time to do it. Follow Nike's advice: Just Do It! If you keep some kind of To Do List, let me play the Devil's Advocate. When you set up a list of things to do for the day or week, put the horrible jobs on first. You can't get to the pleasant tasks until you've got the horrible ones out of the way first. That'll get them done.

2. Disorganization

Very few people admit to being disorganized. Maybe you're like I was. Maybe you say, just like I used to, "I know my desk looks a mess, but I know where everything is." That's just not true. Yes, I did know where everything was, it was somewhere in the various piles!! Could I find things quickly? NO! Most people lose way too much time looking for things.

So, have a clear out. If you really don't need something anymore, get rid of it. My wife still says that I am like some small creature, that builds its nest, and everything around me looks cluttered. So I have to periodically force myself to get rid of things. If I can do it, you can do it.

Once you've had your clear out, keep a clear desk policy. Do not allow build up!

Create a system for yourself. Are the files on your computer easy to find because you have a system, or are hundreds of items saved to your desktop, taking ling to find them too? Set up a system that works for you.

3. Failure to delegate

People hold onto things for many reasons. At work, it could be because they struggle to trust the other person's quality of work, they're insecure about their job and need to hold onto things, or even that they simply like doing a particular job. So: step 1. Ask yourself why you are holding onto a task. If there's no good reason, Step 2: ask if there is somebody that it can be delegated to. If yes, Step 3: Delegate it! How easy was that!

At home, it may be because you're scared the kids could not cope with the chore, and for some people, it's actually because they want their children to enjoy their childhood, so don't want to give chores. Well, children can have a great childhood and learn responsibility at the same time. Hand some things over to them!

4. Bad Habits

This is actually the biggest time robber. And I can already tell you, you're not going to like what I've got to say. But push through, because if you do this, I can tell you that you WILL already see change in less than a month!

Some bad habits are down to ill discipline. You go to get a cup of coffee, see a colleague there, and start to chat. What should have taken 3 minutes takes 15-20 instead. If you do this twice a day, 5 days a week, you've just cost yourself at least 3.33 hours of productive work time. Not to mention the impression that leaves on your colleagues.

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Similar to that is taking too long lunch breaks. I know people that without fail take more than their hour lunch break. Occasionally, a manager has to step in and address this tardiness, but if you're getting away with it, it's only hurting yourself.

Now for that really difficult stuff. I'm going to list them, plain and simple. Let them sink in. Then I'll address how to deal with them. Ready, here goes!

Social Media


Online activity

Playing games

Have those sunk in? If you're guilty of one, or even up to all four of these, here's my radical solution. I've heard it said that it takes 14 days of doing something continuously to make a new habit, so I suggest that you end this activity for 14 days. A complete stop for that time period. Go cold turkey, and get it out of your blood stream. Then, when you've broken the habit, when you pick up again, it should be more manageable.

Let's look at each one. Use the acronym STOP to help you remember.

S – Social Media.

For two weeks, simply do not open any personal accounts on any forum. On the off chance that this is the only way somebody ever contacts you, post or tweet to say that you will be away for the next 14 days, and that they will need to reach you another way.

T – Television.

It's simply too easy to overwatch nowadays. From subscription services like Amazon, Netflix, and catch up services, you probably will always have a list of things to watch that is longer than the time you have available. And it's just waaay too easy to binge watch. You need to get this under control.

O – Online activity.

This is not social media, this is surfing the internet. How often do you look up one thing, find another, and disappear down that rabbit hole for hours? Unless it's a requirement for work, no random surfing the net for two weeks!

P – Playing games.

This can be either on your own, or playing against others online. Recent research showed that regular gamers spend an average of 22 hours per week playing games.  Take control, no playing. If it helps, actually pack away the devices.

What' shocking is that other research shows that for parents in the USA, 76% of parents limit the amount of time their children play games, 71% limit the amount of internet use their children have, and 68% limit watching television, yet appear to have no limits on their own time spent on these activities. And the same is the case all around the world, not just in the USA.

But why are these wrecking your progress? Even though these may be private life activities, they prevent you from exercising, you end up not sleeping enough and arrive at work tired, and soon the time that you are at work are hours that are not as well spent as they should be.

Well, I told you that some of these would be difficult. Dig deep, and set aside the two weeks to try and break these habits, and you will be able to take control of the time robbers that are holding you back, in any aspect of your life. In a month, you'll be a whole new person.

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