17 Bad Time Management Habits You Should Stop Doing Right Now

Almost everyone is guilty of practicing bad time management at some point in their life. We have so many demands on our lives that it can feel almost impossible to keep up with it all. When things start to feel overwhelming like that, it is important to note that there are ways to bring order back to your life once again. If that is something that you would like to work on today, we will show you how to break bad time management habits by showing what some of them are. 


First, You need to test yourself! 

To figure out where your bad time management habits are you first need to test yourself.

The purpose of the test is to make sure you know where you stand right now so it is clear what you need to do going forward to make the most progress possible on your habits.

Put another way, you need to collect the data on yourself before you will ever be able to get all of the information you need to start making changes to your bad time management habits. 

You can test yourself by measuring how you are spending time in your day right now: 

  • Get a log set up – You can set this up as a classic pen and paper log, or you can do it electronically. You need to make sure you always have access to the log so you can enter data into it each day as things are happening.


  • Be completely honest – You need to be sure to be completely honest with how you are spending your time. There is no sense in pretending that things are happening that aren’t really happening. It is your job to get the most accurate information so you can make changes as necessary.


  • Review it all and see where you can improve – Check over every piece of your time management data and see how you can improve how you are using your time. 


17 bad time management habits


1. Failure To Focus Your Time On The Most Important Tasks

Not using your time on the most important tasks is a bad time management habit because it means that you are always behind the 8-ball. You are putting forth an effort at accomplishing some tasks, but you are allowing yourself to fall behind on many others.

woman multitasking

You need to figure out which tasks you actually care about and exert as much energy towards those tasks as you possibly can. 


2. Indulging Too Much In Time Wasters

There is nothing wrong with relaxing and having fun from time to time, but when you let your time-wasters become too large of a portion of your day, things can go very wrong very quickly.

Instead, you should try to focus on avoiding those time-wasters and spend your energy on the tasks that will actually help you get through your to-do list. 


3. Choosing Your Next Task At Random

You need to order your day, not allow it to come at you at random. If you are always choosing the next thing that you are going to do at random, then your whole day will get disordered very quickly. You may spend too much time and focus on certain tasks that aren’t bringing you a lot of benefits. You need to try to keep your tasks in a specific order so you can take them out one by one. 


4. Accepting Too Much Work 

This is a trap that people fall into all the time. They accept more work than they can reasonably handle, and then they are left wondering why they are always behind on things. The reality is that they may be behind because they are trying to make themselves look good by never saying no to more work. The irony of this is that they ultimately look worse because they are unable to deliver. Time management leaders know that they must never take on more than they can reasonably do. 

“I’d say that half of my frustrations with others are actually frustrations with myself for failing to set clear boundaries and stand by them.” – James Clear

5. Using Your To-Do List As A Mood Enhancer

It would seem like using your to-do list as a mood enhancer could be a good thing, but there are pitfalls to this. If you keep adding new things to your list throughout the day just so you can cross them off, then you are leaning on your to-do list as a mood enhancer, and it will actually backfire on you when you are unable to keep it all up in the air at the same time. 


6. Putting Too Much On Your Daily List

There may be a lot of things that you would like to accomplish, but putting them all down on the same day is a very bad idea. You will end up with a list that is impossibly long, and you may just get so frustrated with it that you ultimately end up scrapping it because you just don’t want to deal with everything that you haven’t managed to get to on your list. It can send you into a spiral at exactly the moment when you should be getting more done.


7. Not Writing Things Down 

Get a piece of paper and a pen and keep them with you at all times. You need to be writing down every important thing that you can do during the course of your day. It is your job to log the things that matter the most to you, and it is a shame if you don’t take notes like that.


8. You Are Always Scrambling To Get Things Done Last Minute

Just because you have until a certain deadline to get things done doesn’t mean that you should always wait until the last possible minute to do so. You never know when an emergency may arise or when there could be other issues that come up that you need to handle.

clock on orange background

If you are always pushing your work until the last possible minute, then it is possible that you just won’t get it done at all.


9. You Allow Too Many Distractions Into Your Life

You need to box out distractions as much as possible while you work on getting things done. This means taking care of the obvious ones such as social media or checking your e-mail too frequently, but it also means getting away from chatty co-workers or other distractions that could distract you from the real work that you know you need to be handling at this time.


10. Wasting Time On Easy Tasks

Allowing yourself to handle the easy tasks or those that don’t add much value to your day is a cheap way into tricking yourself into thinking that you are accomplishing more than you really are. You may be knocking things off the to-do list, but you aren’t really getting done the things that need to be done.


11. Taking On Other People’s Problems

It is possible that you can take on too many problems from other people when you know that you shouldn’t. If that sounds like something that you know yourself to be doing, then you need to put a stop to that right away.

taking on other people problems

You have enough on your plate as it is, and sometimes other people simply need to take some responsibility for their own issues and take them on for themselves. There is only so much that you can do to help them out.


12. Not Delegating Work 

Delegating work to other people means that you are using your time as effectively as possible. It is tempting to want to take on all of the available work by yourself at all times, but you are doing yourself a disservice if you do so because you are not allowing others to step up and show you all that they are capable of contributing. Don’t put people in a spot like that.


13. Not Being Organized

Doesn’t it make a lot more sense to work in an organized fashion? That is what you will come to discover if you start to try to do your work in a way that is not organized. You will fall behind on your tasks, and you won’t be happy with the results. Thus, you should try to get organized and orderly as quickly as possible. There is no excuse for not having things tidied up when you know that this is the best way to get things done.


14. Too Much Task Switching

Stick with one task and keep working on it until it is done. Stop flipping back and forth between various different tasks unless you want to make yourself very frustrated very quickly. People who do this aren’t even able to get as much done as they would like to, and they end up in a constant mode of task switching that leaves their brains very worn out. 


15. You Try To Copy Other People’s Methods

There is nothing wrong with borrowing great time management strategies, but one of the effects of copying someone’s method exactly is that you could easily end up missing the mark. Their method may not be what you need in your life, and it is possible that you will be shooting at the wrong target if you copy what they have done down to the letter.


16. Relying On Your Memory 

It is a dangerous game to assume that you will remember everything that you need to do in a given day. Relying solely on your memory to get you through the day is a bad idea when you could just as easily write things down or plug them into your phone.


17. Thinking You Have More Time Than You Actually Do 

The hours of your day can go by quickly if you let them escape you. Don’t put yourself in a bind like that. Instead, take the time to realize that you are only given a finite amount of time to get certain things done. If you continue to waste your time, the day will be over before you know it.



We all have bad time management habits that could use some work. If you aren’t actively working to improve upon your bad habits, then it is likely that you are allowing them to just continue to get worse. Instead of doing this, consider putting a stop to your bad habits by taking them on one by one. You can make a lot more progress if you identify the problems and then start to fix them. 

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