Ineffective time management not only harms your business by putting you at risk of missed deadlines and compromised relationships with clients, it also causes a tremendous amount of stress for you and your employees.
Managers may regularly worry about the results they are getting, while employees are consumed with fears about being pulled aside for “a talk.”
It’s no wonder time management is an issue. According to the Harvard Business Review, a typical executive gets more than 200 emails per day.
This is on top of the time-consuming, unproductive meetings – standard practice in many workplaces – that fritter away up to 35% of the working week.
Emails and meetings are just two examples of time squanderers that can impede productivity throughout the workday. These time wasters don’t just impact executives, they affect everyone in the workplace.
In the face of these schedule-busting challenges, what steps can businesses take to empower themselves and take back control of their time and productivity?
First, identify the problem
This is your time to sit down with each employee and find out where the bulk of their energy is going.
Some issues will be about individual temperament, and other sticking points will be tied to procedural glitches at your organization that need to be tweaked.
Some examples of personal tendencies that can result in lost productivity are proneness to getting overwhelmed by minutiae or a habit of avoiding necessary monotonous tasks.
Sit down with each employee and find out where the bulk of their energy is going
This is where you as a leader take the helm and guide your employees in uncovering the reasons why they struggle with managing their time effectively.
Open lines of communication set the stage for all of the time management tips that follow.
Check in with employees regularly
With seamless communication as a foundation, your training will be a great start in establishing excellent time management habits for your employees.
Regular check-ins function like coaching sessions. This is a great time to make sure employees are on-track and not overwhelmed. It’s a space to encourage them and help them brainstorm – if they need that help.
You’ll want to identify where each employee is excelling while also identifying areas where performance could be improved. But check-ins like these need to maintain a delicate balance.
Try not to make the meeting into a list of things the employee has done wrong since your last meeting. You know your team, so use that knowledge to tailor each meeting to the individual needs of the employee. Make it a priority to do more listening than talking.
A caveat: Don’t forget to schedule some peer-to-peer coaching sessions for yourself. We all need support and feedback, and your team will notice whether or not you are walking the walk.
Set goals for your organization as a whole, and for each employee
To manage time well, you need to be clear about exactly what you’re setting out to accomplish, as individuals and as a company.
Obviously you can’t meet with each employee every day, but you can work together during your regular check-ins to help team members establish guidelines for creating daily goals for themselves that align with your monthly organizational milestones.
As an example, suppose that your business has a monthly goal of adding 50 new clients. An employee’s daily task might be to reach out to 10 new prospects to ensure hitting that benchmark of 50 new clients per month.
Help employees prioritize responsibilities
Here again, communication is key. During your regular check-ins, you will have discovered – together with each team member – their personal time management challenges.
With this information, you can help employees to get honest with themselves about exactly what gets them off-track.
Then you can work together to empower them to independently set daily and weekly priorities that will keep your organization right on track.
It’s essential to make sure employees are not skipping regular breaks in the hopes of getting more done
Delegate tasks according to individual proficiencies
Do you have one team member who excels at research and another who’s a real people person?
Assign those employees to spend the bulk of their time and energy in jobs where they can feel the proudest and the most competent. You will hit your goals with far less effort.
A side bonus is that when these employees need to tend to more monotonous grunt work they will bring some of the energy they put into their more enjoyable tasks to their less glamorous duties.
Have an organized plan and an organized workspace
An organized workspace promotes clear, organized thinking and is a wonderful springboard for implementing the daily, weekly and monthly goals you’ve empowered your employees to create to support your larger organizational targets.
Set aside specific time for more tedious tasks
Encourage employees to set aside specific time for the more monotonous jobs they have on their plate.
For some people, it may be easier to get these tasks done in the morning, when they are fresh. Others may feel these duties are a good break from more creative work, and that they prefer to do them later in the day.
What works best will be different for different people, and your ability to inspire trust and honest communication with your team will facilitate you to conjure individually-tailored plans for each employee.
Make balance the priority
Adequate rest promotes clear, organized thinking. It’s essential to make sure employees are not skipping regular breaks in the hopes of getting more done.
Ironically, skipping breaks doesn’t result in greater productivity. It’s more likely to result in mistakes and more sick days.
Time-tracking software can help you rest easy in the knowledge that your team members are getting adequate downtime, which ensures that they feel able to perform their best.
Effective time management is the starting point
Whatever learning and development programmes you’d like to launch to take your business to the next level, basic time management skills are the foundation on which to build all other skillsets.
Regular check-ins with your employees may seem like an overwhelming time investment at first glance, but in the long run they promote an easier, more effortless communication style that will enable your team to manage their time efficiently, function more independently and send productivity soaring.