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18 Positive Ways to Fend Off Time Traps that Create Havoc in Your Life

Time Traps

Spring is on its way with the pinky promise of everything new and fresh. It’s a time for growth and renewal. It’s also the time for a redo.

Out with distractions and time traps that create havoc in your life and in with positive ways to honor your time. Click To Tweet

There’s one brilliant solution. Give yourself the time of your life.

Disclaimer: This blog post may contain affiliate links. Keep in mind that I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you when you click my links and make a purchase. However, this does not impact my opinion in any way. I only promote brands I believe in and products that I use and love myself. I try my best to keep things fair and balanced to help you make the best choice for you.

Time Traps Cause Way Too Much Disorganization

Some of the first clients I worked with, when I started my business years ago, were people desperate for help in managing their time and life.

Things haven’t changed that much.  

Whether it’s clutter, closets, conference calls, crayons, cat shedding or cubbies. When you’re disorganized you waste precious time. Time that can add up to years and years that you can never earn back again.

No one has time for this. No one has time to waste. Once you have the hang of organization and time management, you can just let things roll while you sashay out and enjoy your life. 

Doesn’t that sound like the best pinky pact promise you can have with yourself? 

18 Tips to Avoid Time Traps in 2021

Be Your Own Goalie

Take some time this week to sit down and create your vision for the rest of the year and beyond. The best way to dodge time traps is to get clear on where you’re going and what you want to achieve – it keeps you focused.

Create a Personal Navigation System

Create your own personal navigation system and start every day with a daily plan. Spend at least 30 minutes every morning (or the night before) sorting it out. Use your day planner, the whiteboard in your office, or even your phone to note down your plan – it gives you direction.

Keep a Beady Eye on Your Time

If you don’t know where all your time goes then track it for a week. The reality will shock you. I bet a lot of it will be spent going down the social media rabbit hole (massive time traps) or doing something similarly unproductive. When you track your time you become more conscious of how precious this commodity is – it will help you spend your time more wisely.

Make Prioritizing Your Bible

Keep your priorities in mind, right up front, so you get the most value  from your time. Not being able to distinguish between regular tasks and priorities will create overwhelm and challenge your focus. If you’re not sure what your priorities are, ask yourself, what’s the most important thing for me to do right now? What must get done and what can wait? Then watch how your priorities come to mind.

Be Mindful of Deadlines

Be aware of deadlines and start there. This gives you a starting point but also allows you to create a timeline for getting important things done. This is especially important if others are relying on you to complete a task – it will keep you on top of things.

Turn Off Distractions

This one is vital; especially in this age of distractions we live in. Between phone calls, texts, social media notifications and our many alarms or reminders, our concentration is constantly switching between tasks. Doing several things at once is not productive and we need to focus on one thing at a time. Temporarily switch off anything that distracts you – it will allow you to concentrate.

Wipe Out Time Wasters

Arm yourself against time traps. There are numerous time wasters in our modern era, such as waiting for others to do something before you act, checking emails constantly, spending all your time on social media or just saying “yes” to everything. Notice what you waste the most time on and then systematically arm yourself against these – it will give you more time.

Team Smart

Make the best decisions you can with the information you have available to you. Learning how to be decisive and to make smart decisions is a valuable tool when it comes to organization – it will keep you from wasting time on indecision or unnecessary mistakes.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Be aware of personal limits and don’t take on more than you can do. When you overload yourself you are at risk of burnout which will waste even more of your precious time. Set healthy boundaries, become acutely aware of your personal limits and allow yourself to say “no” sometimes – it will prevent you from feeling overloaded.

Time Traps
Don’t Multitask

Multitasking won’t get the job done and is actually an unproductive endeavor. Switching attention from one task to another is a big time-waster, not a time saver. Tasks then don’t get your full attention which means they aren’t done properly and take longer than needed. Focus on one task at a time – it will help you do things well.

Stay Focused

Stay focused on the task at hand when you’re tempted to switch gears. It can be easy to get distracted and switch to another (perhaps easier) task when you’re right in the middle of something. Focusing on the task at hand will help get the job done – it will leave you feeling accomplished.

Work in Time Slots

I suggest the Pomodoro Technique which is a time management method that uses a timer to break down work into intervals. According to this technique, you should work for 25 minutes at a time and then take short 5 minute breaks in between. Working in slots of time helps you to work more efficiently.

Break Up Projects

Work on parts of a project at a time to avoid the feeling of overwhelm that comes with a large agenda. When overloaded,  it’s challenging to know where to begin. By breaking up a large project  to smaller tasks, it becomes more manageable – it makes your job easier.

A Perfect Trap

Pay attention to details but don’t let them bog you down. Although attention to detail can be useful, it can also be your downfall. Allow yourself some detail management. It will give you the space you need to get things done.

Delegate or Outsource

Delegate the right job to the right person to free you up for the tasks that you need to do. Sometimes there is just too much for one person to do, so the best way to manage is to outsource some of the work. Focus on your zone of genius (what you’re best at or only you can do) and then hand over the rest to someone else – it will free up a lot of your time.

Use Technology

We live in a wonderful world full of technological luxuries that can help us out. So, use your mobile phone to set reminders and keep track of your calendar. Having something on hand that reminds you of the important stuff can be a lifesaver. Make use of what you have available to you – it will give you the tools to better manage your time.

Time Traps
Plan Ahead & Finish Early

Plan to finish up or get to where you need to be earlier than expected. Always over calculate the time you will need to give yourself some wiggle room. You won’t have that rushed feeling  as if you’re running late – it lets you get ahead of schedule.

Schedule “YOU” Time

You can’t spend all your time doing obligatory things or things for others and expect to manage your time effectively. After a while, it will wear thin and things will start to slip. But when you actually schedule some time for yourself to read a good book, take a walk in nature, pamper yourself with some beauty treatments at home, you’ll feel refreshed, like you can manage anything.

How We Spend Our Time

With an average life expectancy of 79 – 80 years you’d think that we actually get a lot done during our lifetimes. But what if I told you how much time we spend on the most unexpected things.

Would you do things differently this year?

Here’s what the average person spends their lifetime doing:

  • 33 years in bed (26 years sleeping and 7 years trying to sleep).
  • 13 years and 2 months are spent working.
  • 11 years and 4 months are spent on screen time.
  • 4 years and 6 months are spent eating (66% of people eat and work simultaneously).
  • 3 years and 2 months are spent on holidays (not enough if you ask me).
  • 1 year and 4 months are spent exercising.

Summary

With 18 positive ways to avoid time traps, and take control of your life, you have the tools  you need to spring ahead and stamp this year, “redone.”

What time traps do you struggle with most?

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Time Traps

Comments 16

  1. Ronni, these are valuable points. There are several which resonate with me and which I am frequently pointing out to my clients. People don’t delegate often enough. They spend too much time traveling down rabbit holes on the details. I like to suggest being satisfied with ‘good enough, for now’. Planning ahead and allowing travel time (more than enough travel time) is critical. Finally, I love the way you recommend keeping priorities front and center. As you can tell, I loved this post. Thank you, Ronni, for putting this together.

    1. Diane, those are beautiful comments, thank you so much. I favor the same points that you do. Good enough is really good enough and I try to show my clients the difference when they’re striving for perfection, a set up for disappointment.
      Delegation is my middle name. I delegate and outsource as much as I can. Then I’m free to do the things I’m good at, rather than wasting time on the silly things that take me too long to master.
      I think priorities are the key to best time management. If we just focus on the 3-5 things that are most important and not worry about all the rest, we’ve done well with our time.

  2. Those time stats are sobering (7 years trying to sleep – I think for me it may end up more!). It’s a great reminder that our time resources are not infinite, and digging in to what’s most important and impactful is key. Great post!

    1. Sara, thank you for your lovely comments. Those stats ARE sobering. It leaves you wondering how much time we spend on other things, especially tasks that are really unimportant.
      How we spent our time this year certainly shifted. I do think it will turn back around as we become more cognizant of how we spend our time.

  3. Wow, those stats at the end were eye-opening. I bet the screen time is even higher now that we’ve been living on them during COVID. I love the idea of figuring out how long things actually take. It is helpful to know, for example, that emptying the dishwasher takes about 4 minutes. That helps me know if I can squeeze that task in before heading out the door or not! Love that we are both thinking about time management this week.

    1. That’s so smart, knowing how long a task takes. It’s a great way to assess the time you have to get a job done. One of the biggest hurdles for so many people is that they don’t know how long it takes for them to get themselves ready and out the door to an appointment.
      I always tell my clients to calculate how long each task will take, to head out, and then add on an extra 20 minutes.

  4. I was just talking about staying focus with a person this weekend. These are great tips! I am going to share it with them. I do find that when there is too much on my mind, I need to write EVERYTHING down, not just the important stuff. It helps me focus on the items one at a time. Thanks for sharing your amazing tips!

    1. Sabrina,
      That’s the sweetest comment. The biggest lie I tell myself is that I don’t have to write it down, I’ll remember it. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. When I do, I am so proud of myself. When I don’t, I am annoyed that I didn’t take the time to jot it down.

  5. Oh, Ronni, this is a fun post for tackling all of those nasty time-stealers! (I’ll trade you some vacation time for some sleep time!) I love “Be Your Own Goalie” and think all of these, in one way or another, will make you the MVP of your time!

    1. I really like the concept of being your own goalie. If we don’t watch our time, and all those traps, it definitely shifts in a direction we may not want to go.
      YES! I love what you said about being the “MVP” of your time. What a great description!

  6. All of your strategies are excellent, Ronni! Most of them I use. I liked the one about keeping a time journal for a week. Especially if you feel like you aren’t accomplishing what you want to, I can see how this would help reorganize your schedule. Just the idea of becoming more time aware is key. I have a fairly good sense of time, but I frequently use timers and buzzers to alert me when I need to shift gears. This allows me to hyperfocus on what I’m doing yet know I’ll be alerted when I need to stop. So funny. As I was writing just now, my buzzer went off. Guess what? I have to wrap this up to get ready for my next appointment. One last thing. Those stats were sobering. As you said, 80 years sounds like a lot. But when you see where on average, our time goes, it’s hard to believe. So making the most of our waking hours by carefully choosing what we’re focusing on is essential.

    1. Linda,

      I love that a buzzer went off to alert you that it was time to prepare for another meeting. We always think we can squeeze in a few minutes here or there or do one more thing and that just starts a thread of problems, especially when it comes to time sensitive matters.

      We’re human and we do the best we can. I do love the timer. I’ve been using it for 40 years!

  7. There are so many ways to organize your day, week and month. Some work some of the time, others not at all. I am keeping more mindful of screen time as that tends to be the WORST culprit these days.

    I do like timed tasks but also ignore when the timer goes off and just keep going. I get into the swing of things and just want to finish.

    Very motivating post. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Margarita,

      That good old fashion timer really does work. I too have found, over and over again, that when the bell goes off, you just keep on working.It’s such a simple and motivating tool.

  8. I love the idea of creating your vision and being your own goalie, but that’s really hard when you don’t have a handle on your time. Something to work towards. I like many of your suggestions. I live and die by my calendar and setting priorities every morning. I have worked with clients to track their time and it’s usually very helpful.

    1. Janet,
      You are right. Managing your time starts with seeing where your time goes. It’s always an eye-opener. That should come first.
      It’s very challenging to get people to track their time on their own. I’m so glad to hear that you do it with them. That’s the bonus of hiring a professional organizer!

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