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People like Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs have spoken at length about the effects of poor time management. Happily, there are warning signs for poor time management habits.


Does every working day feel like a struggle to you? Does it feel like you need to complete every one of your tasks right now, otherwise you’ll end up failing?

If so, you’re experiencing the effects of poor time management. Worse yet, you may not understand the causes of poor time management until somebody points them out to you.

Here’s advice from some of the world’s most successful (and busy!) people on the planet:


Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs: You Keep Saying Yes

Warren Buffett, has amassed a multi-billion dollar fortune. He’s an avid reader, and perhaps the most successful investor the world has ever seen. He believes one of the leading causes of poor time management is always saying “yes”.

As he puts it: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

You may want to do it all. In fact, many successful people reach their positions because of their desire to help others. However, saying yes to everything means you can’t focus on the tasks that need your attention.

Learn how to say “no”, and use the word often. It’s difficult to do, as saying “no” inevitably disappoints the person making a request. However, you can’t manage your time well if you accept every task that comes your way.

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was also a believer in saying “no”. He equates it to improving your ability to focus when he says: “Focusing is about saying no.”


Arianna Huffington: You Don’t Have Time to Pause

Huffington Post creator Arianna Huffington says the best way to handle your stress is to take pauses in your working day.

“Take a colleague and go to a cafeteria or go to a table away from your desk in your office and have lunch,” she says. “Even if you take 20 minutes to do that, it’s more recharging than what so many of us do, which is eating lunch while working.”

If you don’t have time to pause, you’ve taken on too much. Alternatively, you may have focused your efforts on the wrong tasks. Either way, not feeling like you can stop is a warning sign of poor time management habits. It also leads to exhaustion, which leads to slower task completion and more time management problems.


Bo Schembechler: You’re Indecisive

Bo Schembechler was one of the greatest collegiate American Football coaches of his era. During a glittering career at the University of Michigan, he won 13 Big Ten trophies. He also achieved a host of other accolades for his coaching abilities. In short, Schembechler was a leader, and he spoke about the subject of time management in depth in several books.

In his book Bo’s Lasting Lessons, he says “Not making a decision is the worst thing you can do.”

When it comes to time management that really is the case. If you’re indecisive, you hold up the process. Everybody else has to wait for your decision, plus, you focus your efforts on the decision, rather than the tasks at hand.

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Mary Callahan Erdoes and Stephen Covey: An Overflowing Calendar

As you take on more responsibility, you start to feel rushed off your feet. The CEO of Asset Management at JPMorgan Chase & Co, Mary Callahan Erdoes, says that calendar management is the solution.

“Calendar management is the single most important thing, especially as you get busy and have more responsibilities,” she says.

Check your calendar. If it’s overflowing with tasks, you’re not coping. Follow Erdoes’ advice to take back control, and you’ll spend much less time rushing around trying to fit everything in.

Author and motivational speaker Stephen Covey expands on the subject. He says: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

What Covey teaches us here is that we often fill our calendars with tasks that don’t deserve our attention. Again, this leads to a over-stuffed calendar, which is one of the effects of poor time management. Eliminate any tasks that don’t serve your business goals. Delegate those that need doing, and focus on the tasks that you must complete yourself.


Bill Smith: You Don’t Delegate

Bill Smith understands the importance of delegation. He’s the CEO of Shipt, one of the world’s largest web-based grocery delivery services. He speaks about how leaders must overcome the desire to do it all themselves.

“As much as I’d like to be able to do it all myself, I know there are some areas of my work life that are best to pass off, so I can keep focused on what is most important,” he says.

An inability to delegate is one of the leading causes of poor time management. It demonstrates a lack of trust in your team. You try to do everything for them, which leads to them resenting you, while failing to grow professionally. Furthermore, you hamper your ability to focus on the big issues that really matter. Smith recommends hiring an executive assistant to help you to deal with the minutia.


Steve Maraboli: You’re Impatient

As well as being a bestselling author and public speaker, Steve Maraboli is a behavioral scientist. He has delivered speeches in over 30 countries, often with a focus on business insights and the current social climate. The subject of impatience often finds its way into his speeches.

He says: “What good has impatience ever brought? It has only served as the mother of mistakes and the father of irritation.”

Impatience is one of the effects of poor time management. It often arises as a result of frustration. You have a tight deadline to meet, so your patience for other issues wears thin.

However, as Maraboli points out, impatience is a symptom of poor time management habits. It results in you making mistakes because you can’t take a step back and think clearly. You rush into decisions with an unclear mind. Worse yet, the mistakes you make need rectifying. This places even greater demands on your time.

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Brené Brown: You’re a Perfectionist

A four-time New York Times bestseller, Brené Brown serves at the University of Houston as a research professor. She is also a public speaker. Her The Power of Vulnerability Ted Talk is one of the most popular in the world, having amassed over 30 million views.

Brown often confronts the subject of perfectionism in her work. “Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life,” she says.

“Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”

All entrepreneurs strive towards goals. However, attempting to achieve perfection in all you do is one of the causes of poor time management. You may spend so much time in preparation that you delay your tasks. Alternatively, you move through your work so slowly that you delay yourself in other areas.

Accept the fact that you’ll complete very few tasks perfectly. Work to the best of your ability, but move on once you finish the job. You’ll feel happier and more motivated.


Zig Ziglar and Paul Coelho: You Have Poorly-Defined Goals

An award-winning author, Paul Coelho attained his greatest success with his novel The Alchemist. He’s also one of the most followed writers on Facebook, with over 20 million followers.

Coelho believes that a failure to set defined goals is one of the effects of poor time management.

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want,” he says.

“No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”

As well as being great advice, this quote helps you to understand how bad time management affects your goal-setting abilities. Your priorities muddle, and you no longer understand what you’re striving to achieve.

Motivational speaker and sales coach Zig Ziglar takes a different approach to the same issue.

He says: “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

Zagler points out that we all have the same amount of time available to us. Those who don’t set defined goals struggle with managing their time more than those who know where they’re going.



These are just the warning signs of developing poor time management habits. If you notice any of them in your daily routine, you need to find solutions.

Failure to do so means that you don’t produce results. Your business will suffer, and you may collapse under the weight of your mismanaged tasks. Follow the advice of the inspirational leaders in this article as soon as you spot these causes of poor time management.

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