Are your employees struggling to finish and submit their tasks on time? Do they find themselves overwhelmed by your expectations and impending deadlines? If the answer is yes, your team members are probably headed toward burnout, and the pile of tasks in front of them seems to be constantly growing.
As you can imagine, these circumstances aren’t great for the overall company morale. Moreover, they are probably also damaging your bottom line, as the workers can’t reach their full productivity potential. If you recognize these problems within your organization, it is time to think about employee time management and the way to improve it.
What Is Time Management?
Time management represents a collection of tools, strategies, and principles that will allow your employees to use their time more efficiently. As time is one of the main components of productivity, you will be able to improve that aspect of your business as well.
Why Is Time Management Important for the Company?
As we have previously mentioned, productivity is one of the biggest benefits of better employee time management. The implementation of positive business practices takes time and effort, but they also bring significant advancement to the team’s performance. They can also help improve company culture by bringing more transparency into the equation.
Removing or minimizing the biggest hurdles is something every company should strive for. Managers, higher-ups, and team leaders have the task of constantly finding ways to boost productivity and raise profit. Hence, making sure all employees have the opportunity to reach their full potential is high on their priority list.
If you are running a team or a company that provides goods or services keeping a squeaky clean reputation is one of the most important ways to develop your business. However, you won’t be able to achieve that if you don’t meet the deadlines you’ve set for your clients.
As you know, a business is comprised of many little pieces that often have to come in place in a certain order. Making employee time management a priority is a good way to be certain they will deliver their completed tasks in time. this way the projects will move smoothly.
Crunch time is one of the biggest stressors in the modern office. Having to deal with delays, late submissions, teams having to catch up to each other, etc. is a big source of discord in any workplace. That is why it’s crucial to make sure your teams are synchronized in managing their time.
Unpredictable changes and unplanned delays can worsen a well-prepared project. However, preventing work mistakes that can be accounted for early on will lighten the workload and relieve stress within your teams.
Prioritizing (and) Quality
One of time management’s main benefits is allowing each employee to learn how to prioritize. Most employers expect their employees to understand which tasks deserve their attention the most. Yet, people rarely take the time to learn how to prioritize. On the other hand, many managers also don’t communicate which aspects of the work their teams should be focusing on.
Time management training gives both sides the opportunity to understand both priorities themselves and the way to present them clearly. Once the most important parts of the work are known, the employees can focus on them and finish them sooner while keeping the quality of the work at a high level.
Why is Time Management Important for the Individual?
From a manager’s point of view, the improvement of the company comes first. However, time management can bring many benefits to the employees themselves. Clearly, less stress is a great incentive. But, once your team members become aware of the benefits they will personally experience, they will be more inclined to use the techniques you suggest.
Rise in Productivity
Most people want to be more productive. Even those prone to time theft will want to be able to reduce the stress that comes with work. however, many outside factors prevent them from doing so, so they end up overwhelmed by a large number of tasks.
Once the employees understand their priorities and have time management techniques under their belt, they will feel more confident and avoid the constant stress and overwork while remaining as productive as before or even improving their results.
Time for Oneself
Finishing work in time instead of having to work from home or stay for overtime significantly improves work-life balance. Additionally, being able to fully relax and not think about the workload waiting for you tomorrow (or on Monday) leaves employees who manage their time successfully more prepared for new challenges.
If a person is striving to climb the corporate ladder, they must be able to manage their time well. Simply put, this skill is necessary to keep up with more responsibility that comes with a higher position.
Organizing Time Management
There are multiple ways to help your employees learn to manage their time. The most common tactics include
- Hands-on approach during work
- Organized time management training for the team
- Online courses and training
Whichever option you may choose, you will have to do some diagnostics first. Here are the basic preparatory steps.
Identifying the Problems
There are many causes for bad time management. Surveys show that many employees consider lengthy email chains and meetings some of the main reasons they lose valuable time. Yet, many distractors cause work mistakes and time management blunders.
Before you start fixing problems, you need to make sure you identify all of them. The management will probably hear some things they won’t be thrilled about. However, the employees will probably have to face some hard truths.
This is where time audits come in. We have a detailed guide on how to conduct a successful time audit. Yet, when you use this method to improve employee time management, you should add another step to the beginning of the routine. Namely, ask your employees to write their expectations and the way they see the way they spend their time. Then, at the end of the week, they will be able to analyze the discrepancies between expectations and reality.
This is a diagnostic method, and you will have to explicitly explain that no one will suffer consequences once the results come in. Then, you will need to fulfill this promise to continue in a constructive direction.
The types of problems that occur include
- Not knowing how to prioritize
- Needing more time for certain activities due to the workload
- Having too many unnecessary obligations (i.e. meetings that don’t solve a problem)
- Different distractions and wasting time
The way you’ll conduct the training depends on the size of your organization. For example, a hands-on approach is great for small companies or teams. On the other hand, organized training is better for bigger teams. Finally, online classes are great for remote employees or companies that can’t afford the time needed for the first two options.
Approaching the Solution
The way you’ll handle solving time management issues within your company depends largely on the types of problems that occur. Our biggest advice at this stage is – don’t take it personally. Sometimes, employees truly aren’t the ones causing the problem. Hence, the entire team, including managers and team leaders will have to learn how to manage everyone’s time better.
For example, frequent meetings can take up a lot of time and cause burnout even if a particular employee only attends them, without having to speak. Not to mention attending multiple meetings a week, or even a day in some cases, will disrupt anyone’s workflow and slow them down.
On the other hand, spending time on social media and talking to your colleagues reduces the time you have for serious work.
Once both sides take accountability and realize the scope of their mistakes, it is time to be as constructive as possible.
As your time audit will probably show, people aren’t aware of how much time they need for a particular task. That means that your projects are jeopardized right from the planning stage. If you take a realistic look at how much gets done, make your assessments according to the facts, and do not underestimate the time a task will take.
However, you shouldn’t drag out the time and give your teams too much time. The reason for this is Parkinson’s law, which claims a task will take as much time as it is allowed. To put it simply – employees are going to believe they need all the time they get for a task and do it slower even if the deadline is much longer than needed.
How to Plan?
Again, you will need to solve the problems that cause the mistakes in time management. The planning process needs to reflect the solutions. So, here are some suggestions.
- Split projects and tasks into smaller steps that all have a tangible deadline
- Try to understand whether the team needs more manpower or resources
- Reduce the number of meetings to the bare minimum at first, and add some only when necessary
- Encourage your employees to make personal plans so they can prioritize their tasks
Don’t make the initial informing sessions and meetings the only way to reach the management. While it is important to remote employees sometimes an additional conversation is absolutely necessary.
Also, remember that communication should never be one-sided. Be open to listening to suggestions and making adjustments during the process itself. Sometimes you will even have to change plans in the middle of a project due to unforeseen circumstances. Stay open and flexible, and most importantly, make sure you’re doing everything to make time management easier for your team.
The time audit you’ve conducted gives you a great insight into the way your employees work. It also shows you whether some team members are overwhelmed with the amount of work they need to complete. If this is the case, you should offer them some help and delegate a part of their tasks to a team member who has more time.
Still, you need to remember that the workload can’t be equal for every member of your team, as some of them have more experience and can manage more work. Your attempts to make the distribution as equal as possible will be appreciated.
Using time tracking software is a great way to stay on top of time management. You and your employees will be able to see how your projects are developing, and whether you are staying on track.
A good time tracking solution will also offer other options besides time management. These options include
- Tracking projects, tasks, clients, and employee time
- Managing billable hours
- Delivering reports on the most important KPIs
- Being unobtrusive to the work process
Use Productivity Apps
Even though they try their best, your employees may need some additional help. Fortunately, there is a great choice of different productivity apps, add-ons, and programs available.
Our advice is to suggest using these tools individually, depending on the problems specific team members are facing. The solutions can range from a simple to-do list to a finely-tuned timer that allows you to focus on separate tasks at separate times
Allow Enough Break Time
Yes, you’ve read that right. People are more inclined to put more effort into their work when they have the energy to do so. It is on you to allow your team to take their much-needed breaks, and be able to return to their tasks.
Some employees will forget about their breaks. Even though this seems like a good thing, you should encourage them to take some time to reenergize while they’re switching between tasks. Otherwise, they are likely to burn out after some time.
Once a person experiences burnout, it can take them months of rest to completely recover. You don’t want your most hard-working employees going through this. Hence, you should cultivate an atmosphere where breaks are not only possible but strongly supported
Understanding the Work Rhythm
Most of the world considers working 9-5 ‘’normal’’ work hours. Yet, every person has their own work rhythm, which can be completely different. To achieve maximum productivity, you should encourage your employees to find their rhythm and then follow it.
If you are working from an office this flexibility is limited. On the other hand, employees who work from home have a greater ability to adjust their professional lives to their circadian rhythms (otherwise known as the most and least productive periods during the day).
You can suggest using a Pomodoro timer or time blocking, as well as encourage your employees to find their own ways to increase productivity. The methods can range from creating a strict schedule for each day to keeping a simple to-do list. Either way – as long as it works, it is good enough!
What Can an Employer Do?
There are some ways you can organize your workspace to increase productivity and improve time management too. The biggest favor you can do for your employees is minimizing or removing physical distractions from their space.
Noise is one of the biggest distractors in an office. However, some people’s productivity rises when they’re listening to their favorite mixes or music that encourages work. That is why you should inspect the opinion on music during work hours.
Set an example
Expecting your employees to always try their best and change their behavior to suit the company’s interest seems hypocritical if you aren’t ready to do the same. In other words – find your work rhythm and manage your time more responsibly.
True leaders are prepared to set an example and give their workers a practical guideline of how to best use their time while preventing burnout. Employees, on the other hand, are more likely to take their part within the organization more seriously if they see their bosses are passionate about it and doing their part to improve the business.
Of course, leading isn’t as simple as behaving a certain way. If necessary, you can also provide advice. If you are running a big organization it would be good to put your time management tips tricks in writing. This way everyone working at the company will know how seriously you are taking the business. It will also be a handy guide for the onboarding process.
Make the Improvements Worthwhile
You are guaranteed to motivate your employees more if you recognize their improvement. Don’t hesitate to recognize and reward results. You can do so privately in one-on-one conversations or team meetings.
The recognition doesn’t have to be verbal either. Small rewards like gift cards, lunches, or personalized gifts. If you notice an employee showing serious potential you can even organize and pay for their further training.
Even though some tasks may seem menial, they take time to complete. That is why an organization looking to increase productivity and profitability has to take time management seriously. This includes
- Tracking time and conducting time audits
- Setting clear expectations and timelines
- Providing guidelines
- Offering help either in person or through a productivity app
- Taking steps to reduce distractions in the office
- Rewarding positive changes
However, each business is different, and so is each employee. That is to say, don’t put your team in clearly defined boxes, and allow them to find a way to manage their time. As long as their actions increase productivity and don’t harm anyone else, you can allow them to continue. Who knows, you may learn a new tactic yourself!
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