To be effective at anything in life we have to be able to manage time.  If we don’t manage time then quickly our life can become confusing, and before we know it, we are not completing anything we want to do.  Our working day can then become chaos where we are struggling to keep our head above water as the river forever increasing tasks starts to take over.

A key aspect of being an effective manager is to manage our time.  The first thing we need to know is that we all have the same amount of time, every single one of us has the same amount of time, it’s what we choose to do in that time that is important.

In reality, we all contribute to our non-effectiveness with time management and in my experience having more tasks we can handle is quite rare.  Furthermore, our behaviours and actions contribute much more to our poor time management.  Before we can do anything about them one of the first things we have to do, is to identify what the actual issues are; in other words the elements that steal our time.

We call these time bandits, these are elements that steal our time.  So what are common time bandits that many people encounter?

Personality – Many people love doing things last minute, they love the rush of that last minute pressure or deadline.  This can cause us issues (and others around us) with anything with a deadline.

Social Media (Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin etc) – Social Media (SM) is a brilliant thing, but it can get in the way, particularly if we are on it all the time.  I know what this is like personally and I know how easy it is to get sucked into SM; time disappears when we are engrossed in SM, we become absorbed and entirely immersed.  If not checked it can be a massive time bandit.

Email – There is no doubt that how we communicate with technology has transformed the world.  I know that I could operate as a business without email.  However it can cause us huge time management issues, if we are regularly checking for emails, continually looking for a response, it is taking a vast amount of our time.  Furthermore, we expect an immediate response or think we should be responding immediately. Also, the fact that we copy everyone into the emails causes other people time management issues, and therefore this act is a time bandit itself.

Travel – Wherever we work the chances are is that we have to travel.  We can spend hours a week or sometimes on a single a day going to work by car or on a train.  This can be dead time, not using the time productively.  Therefore this action by itself is a time bandit.

Procrastination – Without a doubt, this has been the most significant time bandit in my life, and I know it affects others too.   This is where we think about things too much, we keep giving excuses to why we are not taking action, we put things off, or we suggest to ourselves not to do something by using language such as “It might fail…”.  The fact is that procrastination is our natural assassin.  It will destroy any idea on the spot; it’s a massive time bandit.

Next time we are going to look at ways we can beat some of these bandits. Subsequent stages of effective time management are to do something about these time bandits, but before we do anything, we have to identify them.

Write your time bandits down but you must be honest, and you must want to do something about them.   Write them down and be prepared to do something with them!

Ralph Moody is the founder of Target Training and specialises in trainer and management development.  You can read more about him here.  To see courses where Ralph delivers see our website here.