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Is Poor Time Management Limiting Your Potential?

Is Poor Time Management Limiting Your Potential?
Published January 10, 2013 by Elizabeth Grace Saunders
Are you clueless about how your time management—or lack thereof—has limited your success? As a time coach, I understand the importance of positive thinking and celebrating incremental improvement. But I also know that many people walk around refusing to admit to themselves what is obvious to everyone else: their lack of control of their time is limiting their creative potential.

This denial of facts may provide some short-term emotional comfort. But in the long-run this mindset leaves you a victim of your circumstances because you're unable to address what you could do to make your future different than your past. The questions below are designed to help you get honest about what's really going on in your life. If you discover a few areas that could use some improvement, the steps below can help you start making actual progress.

  • Where is my lack of control over my time keeping me from fully unleashing my creative gifts? Red Flags: You have ideas for projects but haven't actually started to implement any of them. You have parts of a piece of work completed but no finished products. Or you have a strong body of work but have not taken the time to submit anything to shows or potential new clients.
  • Am I moving forward on projects that are meaningful to me? Red Flags: The projects that you decided were your most important priorities in the last few months or years have not progressed. You feel like you always put other people's projects ahead of your own.
  • How many breaks do I take during the day? Red Flags: You spend more time giving yourself a break than actually working. At the end of the day, you don't feel like you've accomplished anything. And you are the person everyone calls or comes over to chat with when they don't want to do productive activities.
  • What opportunities have passed by because I wasn't prepared to take advantage of them? Red Flags: You missed out on opportunities because you wait too long to take action which means that the deadline has already passed or is too close for you to produce anything of value before your time is up. You had people offer to help you or even to hire you but because you didn't follow up, you never made the connection or got the client.
  • Where am I choosing not to take responsibility for myself? Red Flags: You have the time to get things done that play an essential role in your professional success, but you use it for pleasure activities. You blame forces outside your control—like the economy—but then don't do things within your control—like update your portfolio.
  • Am I putting my job, business, or academics at risk due to the way that I work? Red Flags: Your boss has called you in to discuss your lack of follow-through. You have lost clients in your business due to missing deadlines or providing poor quality work. Or you run the risk of not completing your degree, if you're a student, or making tenure, if you're a professor, because you can't produce.

Once you've completed the above questions, look back over your responses and reflect on these points: Did any of your answers surprise you? Did you notice a difference between what you actually do and what you've been telling yourself that you've been doing? Would your friends and co-workers agree with your responses? After you've gotten real about what has happened in your life and work, it's time to assess what you really want to see happen in the future. The first step in effective accountability is total honesty with yourself on these three points:

  • What Do I Really Want? If you say that finishing a painting or redoing your portfolio is your top priority, but you spend no time on it, is it really your priority? If it is, then to feel satisfied, you'll need to start investing more time in it.
  • What Can I Really Do? To make more room for your priorities, you'll need to let go of doing other things. This could include paring down your involvement in volunteer committees or decreasing your attendance at networking events where you talk about your work but don't complete it.
  • How Will I Track Results? To keep yourself in tune with reality, you have to hold yourself accountable to assessing what you have or have not done on a regular basis. This could look like going through a simple checklist on a daily or weekly basis. Or if self-accountability isn't enough, then you can step it up to outside accountability—either one-on-one or with a group.

By giving yourself a reality check on what you've done and what you want, you can break out of denial and make and keep authentic New Year's resolutions and other habit changes. -- Over to you... Where have you been in denial about what you're doing or not doing? How will getting in touch with reality transform your creative work?

More about Elizabeth Grace Saunders

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder of Real Life E Time Coaching & Training and author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress and How to Invest Your Time Like Money. Find out how you can accomplish more with peace and confidence at

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