Why Is Time Management A Challenge? (The Complete Guide)

A woman staring at her watch to manage time.

No matter how hard you try, sometimes it just seems like there isn’t enough time to get things done. Tightening your hold and completing projects on time may seem impossible. But you can take control of time management and finish on time. It all starts with understanding why time management is a challenge?

Time management is a challenge when you:

  • are not prioritizing tasks
  • become easily distracted are are are interrupted
  • procrastinate tasks
  • try to multitask
  • stop making to-do lists
  • undervalue the time it takes to complete a task

Additionally, personal management can have a huge impact on your time woes and be realistic in the goals you set for yourself. Keep reading below to learn more about why time management is a challenge and a more in-depth look at the top factors affecting the challenges of time management.

Why Is Time Management A Challenge?

Often, you may find yourself scrambling to find the time to achieve your goals. Distractions, procrastination, and just taking on too many tasks can leave you exasperated as you fail to meet deadlines and leave clients or managers disappointed.

Viewing time as a tangible thing that you use is perhaps the biggest pitfall. Unless you have superpowers or have learned to bend the laws of physics, you can’t control time any more than you can control the rotation of the Earth or the laws of gravity.

So, if you can’t control time, what can you control? “Money can be managed. People can be managed. Schedules can be managed. Time can only be accounted for,” says author Charlie Gilkey1. “People who have time management problems… really have self-management problems.”

Proper time management revolves around managing yourself and your perspective of time, how it passes, and how to achieve your goals within its boundaries. Taking control of your view of time will guide you as you develop your self-management strategies.

Manage yourself and your perspective of time to effectively achieve goals within the deadlines you set for yourself.

Viewing it less as a resource to use and more of a medium in which to exist and work lets you focus more on your approach and worry less about wasting time.

Approaching time management from a personal management perspective will allow you to shift the focus away from the clock and onto your workload.

You will naturally start delivering on time as you stay focused and complete projects within the realistic timeframes you have allotted yourself. Your quality of life, as well as the quality of your work, will increase alongside your productivity.

The Challenging Factors Affecting Time Management

There are many things that could be contributing to your time management issues. These are common pitfalls that many people experience when trying to work and meet goals under time constraints.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of everything that might impact your time management. However, everyone has been distracted by that random phone call or spread themselves too thin trying to do ten things at once.

Identifying these risks and mitigating them is as simple as determining if you’re falling victim to them. And then taking the necessary steps to remedy your situation.

1. Time Management Is A Challenge If You Are Not Prioritizing The Task At Hand

In your busy world, you often feel pressured to get more done. You try to spread yourself too thin across multiple jobs. Deadlines must be met, and it seems like the only way is to do everything at once.

Dividing your attention between even two separate tasks can greatly increase the time it takes to complete both. Furthermore, quality often suffers as a result since you couldn’t give each task your proper focus and attention.

Prioritize the task at hand. No other task should be more important than the one you are currently working on. If it is, you need to reconsider your priorities.

Knuckle down and give your attention to each task separately until you have finished it. Keeping your focus limited to each task individually and completing them in sequence guarantees that they all get completed with top quality workmanship.

There is also a certain satisfaction that comes along with checking things off from a list, something you are sure to have handy before too long.

Prioritizing when you do something in your workday can also have an impact on your efficiency and effectiveness. If you are presented with several tasks, some more entertaining or engaging than the others, save the best for last, as the saying goes.

Waiting to do these tasks after the more mundane have been completed serves as a sort of treat for you. Additionally, it can help you to power through the otherwise boring chores beforehand.

2. Avoiding Distractions And Interruptions Is One Of The Main Challenges Of Time Management

A man being distracted by a co-worker.
Avoid Distractions And Interruptions

It’s virtually impossible to provide yourself with a workspace completely devoid of any sort of distraction or interruption. Life is hectic and doesn’t care about your schedule.

Pets need attention, family members get sick, a coworker needs help, the list of distractions is endless. Additionally, you can easily start digging into your project, only to find yourself scrolling through social media or watching videos instead of researching. Interruptions and distractions can severely impede your ability to deliver on time.

So how can you avoid these productivity killers? Time management is all about attention management, and “attention management also involves noticing where you get things done” according to New York Times columnist and organizational psychologist Adam Grant2.

Setting up an appropriate workspace is the first step in avoiding interruptions and distractions. Clear your desktop, both in the real world and the one on your PC. Set clear goals to achieve during each session.

If necessary, let others around you know about your intentions and ask for their help in giving you the peace you need to work.

Schedule time to do the things that distract or interrupt you. By setting special time aside for these activities, you allow yourself to focus more directly on your current task.

If you have a family game night or a dog walk in a few hours, you know that you can dig into your work now and get stuff done. This can also serve as a powerful motivator, encouraging you to get work done quickly so you can enjoy your hobbies and surroundings more.

3. A Major Challenge Of Time Management Is Procrastination

Pablo Picasso once said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” The morbidity aside, the quote resonates with those suffering from time management woes.

Procrastination can easily lead to missed deadlines, unhappy clients, and angry managers as tasks get pushed further back until there is simply no time left. It can be easy for you to say “oh, I have plenty of time” and postpone a goal or task.

However, these tasks remain and get bundled with new tasks that should be completed soon; before you know it, you are overwhelmed and underperforming.

If you struggle with procrastination, stop it from ruining your time management by first acknowledging that you are a procrastinator. Making yourself aware of the issue and being conscious of how it might affect your performance will help you prevent it from becoming a problem.

If you recognizing that you are procrastinating a task, take the time to analyze why you are doing it. Face it head-on and find a solution to overcome the reason you are procrastinating.

Next, set a clear schedule for yourself to meet your goals and stick to it. Be realistic with your scheduling, allotting plenty of time to complete each task.

Finally, set yourself up for success by creating a workplace free from distractions, the biggest instigator for procrastination. It becomes harder to put things off when fewer things around you are vying for your attention.

4. Multitasking Is Another Challenge Of Time Management

These days, it seems like life is all about how busy you are, how much you are getting done, and how much you plan on doing next. To meet these crazy demands, you might be tempted to try to multitask, scrambling to accomplish two or more things at once.

While this might sound like a great solution to your time management problems, it usually ends up with you doing poor work and finishing the tasks more slowly than if you had just done them in sequence. Human beings are great at doing things, it just happens that we’re not so great at doing two or more things at once.

Focus all your efforts on one thing at a time. Once complete, move onto the next. Multitasking minimizes your efficiency and effectiveness.

“Doing many things at the same time prevents you from focusing on all of your tasks equally,” 3 says author Maja Mrsic, “and takes much more of your time than completing your tasks in a sequence.” 3 She claims that to be an effective multitasker, you must be on top of your workflow and have very strong concentration.

If you had these qualities in abundance, time management most likely wouldn’t be a huge concern, right? For most individuals, setting out a sequence of tasks to complete and then doing them in order will bring the most success.

While multitasking seems great in theory, in practice it just isn’t the best approach for many.

5. Making A To-Do List Is A Great Way To Overcome Time Management Challenges

Time management boils down to personal management. One of the best ways you can manage yourself is by making a list of what needs to be done and when. Without a plan, you could more easily get distracted and lose focus on your current task.

You wouldn’t venture into the forest without some sort of map or plan, so why treat the vast landscape of your responsibilities any differently?

When you create a to-do list, you know what needs to be completed. You know where to focus your efforts.

Create a detailed guide for yourself so that you can know exactly what you should be working on and how much time you have to complete it. Be realistic with your scheduling.

You don’t have superpowers, and there are only 24 hours in a day. But be judicious with your time management here. Writing proper to-do lists for yourself might seem like a waste of time initially, especially when you are already struggling to meet deadlines.

However, the improved focus you will receive from having a clear plan will pay dividends. Before long, you might be wondering how you got anything done without them.

6. Undervaluing The Time It Takes To Complete A Task

With all this talk of time management, it may seem counterintuitive to start talking about giving yourself more time to complete tasks. However, being realistic in your perception of time is crucial.

Furthermore, the time it takes to actually accomplish your goals is an important facet of your time management strategy. When you write your to-do lists and set due dates with your clients, do so with realistic deadlines in mind.

A wooden hour glass on a table
Don’t Underestimate The Time It Takes To Complete A Task

Giving yourself ample time to complete the tasks required will often leave you finishing ahead of schedule and moving on to the next project.

According to Mrsic, “one of the most common pitfalls most ambitious people tend to make is to miscalculate the time and energy they will need to complete a particular task.” 3 This mindset is particularly common among overachievers and the type of people worried about time management.

She recommends writing down the amount of time you think it will take to complete something, and then doubling it. While this may seem extreme, this approach allows you to achieve all the tasks you need to in a comfortable time frame.

The resulting work is often of a much higher quality as well since you aren’t suffering from the stress of worrying about your time management.

Final Thoughts

According to several experts, the keys to proper time management are less in worrying about using time properly and time itself, but rather about personal management and taking control of your attention.

By knowing and understanding that you aren’t superhuman and won’t be bending time to your whims, you can set realistic goals for yourself.

Keep organized with lists so you can focus on each task individually, completing them in sequence more quickly and effectively. And set aside a proper workspace for yourself, letting others in the vicinity know of your plans to help you avoid getting distracted or interrupted.

Time management may seem like an impossible goal, but you can take control of yourself and your perspective to get things done. Completing your tasks on time is a rewarding feeling, and knowing you have that extra time left for the juicy distractions you avoided feels pretty good, too.

The realization that there are 86,400 seconds each day. What are you doing today, so that tomorrow you are a step closer to where you want to be? If not now, then when?

eightysixfourhundred, make them count

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Hi, I'm James! I want to help you make the most of your day by providing helpful tips and informative articles on motivation, time management, productivity, and happiness.

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