There are ways you can help with employee time management problems. At some point, we all struggle with time management. As a leader, though, it’s your responsibility to give your team a helping hand when this issue arises for them. But, can you help others better manage their time? Here are 12 simple ways you can help correct your employees’ time management problems.
1. Work with your team to set the right goals and priorities.
We’re putting in more hours per day — on average it’s 8.5 hours . And, that’s not taking into account the hours we put outside of the workplace — one study reported that 80% of Americans worked an additional 7 hours after hours . At the same time, we feel like we’re hardly getting anything done.
There can be several reasons for this. But, for many of us, it’s because we’re not focusing on our priorities. Instead, we’re wasting precious time on activities that aren’t all that important. But, it doesn’t have to be that for you and your employees.
Block out the time to discuss both individual and business goals with your team. Ideally, these should be daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals that align with your organization’s mission. Not only will this give purpose and meaning to everyone’s work, but it also ensures that you and your employees are working on the right things at the appropriate time.
2. Help them resolve complex issues.
Do you have employees who are regularly missing deadlines? As just discussed, it may be because they’re devoting too much time to the wrong activities. However, they could be something more behind their time management struggles.
One way to get to the route of this problem is to recommend that they track their time for several weeks. They can use a time log or a time tracking software like RescueTime or Toggl. Employee time tracking will let them see how they’re actually spending their time, as well as how they’re wasting it. With this knowledge, they can set aside the proper amount of time to complete tasks and cut out time-wasting activities.
“Others say yes to too many things, and need help prioritizing what matters (being responsive to your biggest client) and letting go of what doesn’t (trying lots of different fonts on an internal PowerPoint to find the exact right one), writes Laura Vanderkam in a Fast Company article. “You can teach this person to make a short (three- to five-item) priority list for each day.” Vanderkam adds, this you should “go over this list together each day for a few days, and talk about which tasks matter most to you and the organization.”
3. Reduce workplace distractions to help employees’ time management problems.
It should come as no surprise that the workplace is full of distractions. Sometimes distractions aren’t all that bad . They can help ease pain, make us more resilient, and give our minds a much-deserved break.
Of course, when not put in check, distractions can absolutely destroy productivity. As a leader, you should identify the top workplace distractions so that you can squash them ASAP. Here are some of the leading culprits:
- Smartphone notifications. People check their phones a whooping every 12 minutes! You aren’t getting much done you’re glued to your phone. Recommend to your team that they either turn their devices off, put them on airplane mode, or use their operating system’s do not disturb feature.
- The internet. Suggest that everyone use a tool like StayFocusd or Strict Workflow. These will restrict access to distracting websites during work hours.
- Gossiping and chatty co-workers. There’s nothing with a little social activity. But, do not permit employees from gossiping and encourage them to chat during productivity lulls.
- Hunger. Fill the workplace up with healthy and delicious snacks from companies like SnackNation.
- Clutter. Keep your workspace clean and organized, and encourage others to do the same.
- Meetings. Only schedule meetings that are necessary.
- Multitasking. Encourage everyone to complete one task at a time before moving on to the next.
4. Address “planning fallacy.”
This concept was developed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1977. In a nutshell, the planning fallacy is not setting aside the right amount of time to complete a specific task or project — even if you know better based on past experiences. As a result, this can delay when you complete your work — which then will throw the rest of your schedule out-of-whack.
Jory MacKay writes on Inc.com that you can save your team from planning fallacy by:
- Having them take into consideration the amount of time need to conduct research or working with others.
- Being realistic “about how long a milestone will take to achieve.”
- Knowing if they can be held accountable to meet timelines.
S.J. Scott from DevelopGoodHabits.com also suggests that you use time-motion words instead of ego-motion words when giving instructions. For example, use “You only have three hours to complete this assignment,” as opposed to “You still have three hours to complete this assignment.” This creates a sense of urgency.
5. Break projects into more manageable pieces.
“Break projects down into manageable pieces,” suggests Teressa Moore Griffin, founder and CEO of Spirit of Purpose. “The scale of projects can overwhelm employees if they have never learned how to break them down into manageable steps.” Remember when your team feels overwhelmed can lead to procrastination — this, in turn, results in missed deadlines.
“Instead of being disappointed that your direct report can’t work independently, understand why,” adds Moore Griffin. “If the issue is feeling overwhelmed by the size and complexity of a project, work with them to break the project down into its component parts.” You can get started by guiding them in identifying the steps to get from A to Z.
As a manager, project management on your side of things can inspire effective time management in your team.
6. Create a culture of flexibility.
This is all about allowing your staff to work around their most productive hours. For example, early birds could arrive at work an hour or two before everyone else and then leave in the early afternoon. Then, those who aren’t early risers could come in later but work until the evening.
Another option would be letting employees work from home one or two days per week. This eliminates the time spent on their daily commutes. And, it gives them a chance to steer clear of workplace distractions.
Besides allowing your team to work during their golden hours, flexible schedules let them better manage their personal lives, partake in self-care, give them a sense of autonomy, and work on passion projects. Not only will this make them happy and more productive, but it will also help you attract and retain top talent.
7. Evaluate the effectiveness of meetings.
Meetings are more than just a distraction. They can also kill morale and productivity. Mainly this is because you’re pulling people away from more important work to sit in a dull and pointless meeting.
Before planning a meeting, ask yourself if it’s really necessary. You may discover that whatever needs to be covered could be handled through email or an alternative like collaboration apps, Wikis, or one-on-one chats.
If you must schedule a meeting, create an agenda, and share it with invitees. Also, only invite ket personal and keep the event as short as possible. And, plan around everyone’s peak productivity hours. For example, if everyone is most alert and focused in the A.M., then have the meeting in the afternoon during productivity slumps.
8. Don’t throw too much at them at once to help employees’ time management problems.
I’m well aware that you have a million things to get done. But, if your team is already at full capacity, what good would it be to add more items to their already packed plate? After all, this will make your peeps stressed, anxious, and feel completely overwhelmed. They may even focus on completing tasks that aren’t a top priority.
I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with making sure that your team has plenty of stuff to do. But don’t overdo it. Only assign items that deserve their attention right now and wait until they are finished before sending them more work.
9. Encourage them to fill out a time management calendar.
“When employees complete a time management worksheet, they sit down and seriously reflect on how they are currently spending their hours,” writes the Wrike Team. “From there, in collaboration with leadership and fellow teammates, they establish priorities and break projects down into manageable chunks.”
Furthermore, by using a time management calculator, “they gain the perspective to realize it sometimes might be best to let go of responding to emails for a few hours and concentrate on more pressing concerns.” And, this can also direct employees to areas where they may need additional training.
Getting started with a time management calendar is straightforward. First, use a calendar tool that everyone is already familiar with and integrates with other applications you commonly use. Next, encourage your team to block out specific periods in their calendar for undisturbed deep work. And, don’t forget to remind them to build in time for breaks and tasks like responding to emails, texts, and phone calls.
If you’re working on a project together, make sure that the calendar is shared. This way, everyone knows who is working on what and when deadlines must be met.
10. Play games.
Time management doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, you can even have some fun with it by playing games. On top of assisting with time management, this can be a great way to build comradery in the workplace.
One such game is, “How long is a minute?” Here everyone gathers in a room. Ask them to sit down, close their eyes, and then stand up when they think a minute has passed, for this to work though; clocks must be covered. It’s a simple way to demonstrate how we perceive time differently.
If you want to try out some different games, Hubworks has six other ones that you can play. Personally, I think “What I Did Yesterday” and “Circadian Rhythm” is the most useful
11. Provide time management training for time management problems.
Some believe that time management training doesn’t work . On the one hand, I can why this is true — particularly in regards to traditional techniques. But, I don’t think that means completely tossing this idea out the window.
Take, for example, a new hire you just graduated from college. It’s unlikely that they were ever taught some necessary time management skills, like how to prioritize, organize, and communicate. As a consequence, you might want to sign them up for a time management course or mentor them in techniques that you find to be effective.
Moreover, if they tried out one technique that didn’t work, then suggest they try another. I personally feel that improving your time management is a process. You have to keep tinkering around until you develop a system that works best for you. Whether using a time tracker or choosing to prioritize tasks is the right system is up to the individual. Remind your employees that and encourage them to keep trying out different methods.
12. Maintain a healthy balance.
Even if everyone within your organization has improved their time management skills, it’s all for naught if they’re always stressed and exhausted. Encourage everyone to take frequent breaks throughout the day and using their vacation days. Also, don’t contact your team members during their off-hours.
Remember, you must establish time-off schedules so that your employees can stay refreshed . What’s more, you also need to set an example yourself. Work life balance is a company culture piece. So stop eating through lunch, go on a vacation, create a spontaneous holiday, and remind employees of the benefits of taking a breather from work.