What are some of the common obstacles keeping people from getting what they want, and what can be done to leap over these hurdles? Here are the top ten challenges people face when they try to accomplish things, in reverse order, like David Letterman does with his top-ten lists.
Challenge 10: I feel overwhelmed. This feeling is usually caused by one of two things. The first is that people think they have to do everything, assuming that more is better. The best way to solve this problem is to focus on achieving just a few things. Prioritize and learn to say no to anything that is not on your short list.
The second reason people feel overwhelmed is they look at all the things they have to do and tend to think everything needs to be done now. To minimize this feeling, try jotting down all the things that can be done tomorrow. Put that list in a safe place, and don’t think about anything on the list until tomorrow.
Challenge 9: I’m always in reactive mode. When you get stuck in reactive mode, it’s hard to make progress on the most important things. Take a little time out each day to work on those projects dearest to you. Get into the habit of solving problems ahead of time, before they turn into crises.
Challenge 8: I don’t finish what I start. Working on a project, but not bringing it to completion, is usually a big waste of time. Moreover, since almost everything we do is for somebody else, not only do you need to finish what you start, you also have to hand it off to the next person in such a way that they understand the value of what you’ve done. Remember that part of finishing something is making it presentable.
Challenge 7: I don’t stop doing things that are no longer worth doing. We have such trouble accepting loss that we just can give up things we know are no longer working. Cutting your losses requires that you accept defeat; it also usually requires you to deliver bad news to other people involved. Both are difficult. The good news is that both can be made easier through practice.
Challenge 6: I procrastinate. Research has shown that one of the biggest reasons we procrastinate is that we don’t feel we’ve freely chosen what we’re doing. If somebody else has forced it on us, or if we decide to do something out of pride, guilt, or jealously, we haven’t really chosen the project. In such cases, we usually wind up putting off work as much as possible.
The second big reason we procrastinate is that we feel our self image is at stake. If we fear the result of a project might dramatically alter the perception we have of ourselves (either positively or negatively), we tend to shy away.
Challenge 5: I don’t have enough energy to do the things I want. If you alter your eating habits, so that you eat a nutritious breakfast and a light lunch, you might find you have more energy throughout the day. Regular exercise and good sleep patterns will also help you get through your important projects with more zest.
Challenge 4: I’m easily distracted by things that are not important. To overcome this obstacle, start out by setting aside exactly one hour each day to work on only one thing. Once you get into this habit, try increasing the duration of these periods, or try setting aside more than one period per day.
Challenge 3: I don’t feel satisfied when I do finish something important. Feeling satisfied after accomplishing what you set out to do serves the same purpose as oxygen to a runner – you need to it to propel you forward.
If you suffer from this problem, try writing down each goal before you start working towards it. When you complete the goal, look back at your list and remind yourself how challenging it appeared before you started.
Challenge 2: I don’t know how to say no. Since time is such a precious resource, the only way you can free yourself to do the things you want is to say no frequently. Practice makes perfect.
And now for the number one challenge in time management …
Challenge 1: I don’t know what I want. The best way of overcoming this problem is to set aside a little time every day just to think. The most successful people in the world recognize the need for think time, and make a conscious effort to set that time aside. For many it becomes a kind of ritual.
That’s my list of the top ten challenges in time management. Let me know if you’ve observed other, more formidable obstacles.
This article as published on http://www.forbes.com/sites/patbrans/2013/02/19/the-top-ten-challenges-in-time-management/