Implementing time management strategies can benefit your business in more ways than one. If your employees aren’t working wisely, you may be losing money by not helping your team with time management. With some practice and patience, you can cut down on procrastination and improve time management across your entire team.
Let’s be honest, it’s not everyone’s favorite habit to break. However, managers and employees should always evaluate their time management strategies. Once good habits are in place, everyone can be more efficient and cut down on their stress levels. The truth is that even people who claim to work better under pressure can benefit from managing their tasks properly and scheduling their days purposefully.
There are many ways to improve your time management skills, including using online tools or even traditional agendas. However, it can be difficult to find the best option for you. We’ve put together these 5 effective methods that you can incorporate into your office’s daily routine to start seeing results.
How much of a role does time management play in a successful workplace?
Many of us are guilty of screen-surfing in our spare time or when we need a break from working. It’s easy to scroll through an Instagram feed and feel like you’re just taking a quick and deserved break.
The reality of the situation is much different. We take these breaks more often than we realize. The average person checks Facebook on their phone almost 14 times a day. If you work at a desk, this number may be much higher as you can easily browse Facebook with just a few clicks.
Some people tend to become restless, distracted, and less productive the more stressed they are. In the face of a looming deadline, a person can make excuses like “I’ll wake up early tomorrow morning to get this done” or “I can do this in 30 minutes, no problem!” In reality, both options are equally unlikely to happen. Instead, the person will probably get even more stressed, work much longer hours, and churn out a half-baked project.
To make sure that your team does not fall into this trap, and that everyone is able to efficiently and effectively complete their work, managers must support good work ethics and habits.
Time management strategies may come off as “micromanaging,” when a boss is keeping a close eye on the time. It’s time for managers to push back on this stigma and help everyone understand that time management doesn’t always equate to “get this done as fast as possible.”
Instead, effective time management can make or break a project. As employee productivity becomes more of a priority, teaching the team proper time management should become a regular part of the conversation.
1. Plan out your days and week
For many people, their plan of action is to simply finish whatever is put on their plate. That means, if they’re assigned five tasks, they’ll finish those five and be done for the day.
However, if you are effectively managing your time, you will be thinking critically and planning ahead.
If your Monday schedule is extremely light, you may pull a task from Tuesday and get it done ahead. In other scenarios, a task may be due on Thursday, but someone who is planning out their week could work in daily actions to chip away at the project before that deadline.
Whenever possible, managers and employees should look at their schedule and plan accordingly. After a certain amount of time with your company, employees should understand the details of their role and how long it’ll take to complete specific types of tasks. It’s with this knowledge, and the help of a manager, that everyone can effectively plan and schedule their weeks.
2. Prioritize high-value tasks
One of the most valuable time management strategies is being able to prioritize.
When someone is in the middle of a stressful work week, it’s possible that they’ll become overwhelmed. As a result, they may focus energy on a low-value task and not complete the important project on time.
Even when everything seems high-value, it’s important for employees and managers to focus on weeding out what really needs to get done as soon as possible and work through that.
You can do this by weighing the context of the task, such as the importance of the client. Alternatively, you could see if another teammate has completed the part you’re dependant on and go from there.
Once you understand where each task ranks, you can adjust your to-do list and move important tasks higher. Whatever you don’t complete was clearly low-value enough to move to the following day.
Over time, spotting these differences and being able to realistically plan your day will become more natural.
3. Stop multitasking
A common truth is that most people rate their driving skills as “above average.” Unsurprisingly, when everyone rates themselves as the best, the reality is that most people actually fell below the average. The same is true for multitasking.
You see, many people believe that they’re really good at multitasking. They love accepting new projects, lending favors to coworkers, browsing Facebook, and texting friends at the same time. However, just like most people would find it difficult to juggle, jump on one foot, and play a video game at the same time, it’s extremely difficult for someone to multitask at work without decreasing their efficiency.
If you want to increase your efficiency and manage your time properly, it’s important to focus on one thing at a time. That means everyone should have their phone put away and ignore the urge to “quickly” browse Facebook until they’ve finished their task.
Studies have shown that taking short breaks between tasks and projects can actually increase productivity. So, encourage your employees to save the browsing for when they’ve wrapped something up.
4. Track progress
Some managers try to avoid time-tracking tools for fear that employees will feel like they’re under too much scrutiny. In fact, arguments have been made that employers shouldn’t track employee hours at all.
However, it’s always good to encourage employees to track themselves. You can even assure them that their tracked hours won’t be used against them in order to promote these tools.
Employees may surprise themselves by finding out that it takes them two hours to finish a social media batch when, in reality, it should really only take them 45 minutes. With time tracking, employees and managers can adjust their expectations and make sure that they’re not getting too behind.
5. Use the best tools for your needs
Some of the best ways for people to manage their time properly, and understand what they need to get done every day, is to use a tool to do so.
For some people, this means carrying around a traditional agenda or planner everywhere they go. For others, having a large day planner on their desk suffices. Alternatively, entire workplaces can adopt task management and workflow tools to manage everyone’s day on one platform.
Whatever works best, stick with it! Some people have found themselves completely reorganizing their life and cutting down their stress by simply planning and writing things out the night before. So, encourage your staff to find a tool that works for them and run with it.
No matter what you do, support healthy time management strategies
Though there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to time management, a good manager will always support their employees. By keeping expectations realistic, encouraging prioritization of tasks, and helping everyone track their progress, managers can create a stress-free and effective work environment.