Poor time management skills can result in missed deadlines, dissatisfied clients and increased overtime costs. To help avoid these types of situations, here are some time management techniques to share with your employees.
Plan and set goals.
Supervisors should work with their employees to set daily, weekly and monthly goals. For each goal, set a timeline for completion and break down the goal into small, manageable assignments. Consider providing employees with task-management tools, such as project-management software.
Help employees evaluate their responsibilities based on importance and urgency, and encourage them to complete tasks with the highest priority first. This process requires effective communication between the employee and their supervisor, to ensure that priorities are properly aligned with department and company goals.
Every minute lost because of a misplaced file, tool or document is a minute that could have been spent completing a task. Emphasize the importance of an organized workspace and provide strategies to help maximize efficiency.
Evaluate processes and procedures regularly to ensure efficiency. Managers should have regular discussions with their employees to get their insight on more efficient methods for completing their job responsibilities.
Proper delegation can ensure the right tasks are assigned to the right people. However, there is more to delegating than simply assigning a task. Managers must explain job duties thoroughly, work with their employees to develop a plan for completing the task, monitor progress, and provide the resources and support necessary to reach assigned goals.
Dedicate time for less desired work.
It's human nature to sometimes procrastinate, especially when a difficult or undesirable assignment presents itself. To help employees stay focused, break large projects into smaller parts and suggest that employees schedule specific time (such as the beginning of the workday) for the larger or more arduous projects.
For employees on a tight deadline, answering phone calls and emails can be distracting. Consider establishing guidelines for responding to these types of communications. For example, when employees are on a tight deadline, suggest that they check voicemail and email at set intervals and respond to urgent communications first. Where possible, put other communications on hold until after important projects have been completed.
Whenever possible, suggest that employees schedule important job duties for a part of the day when there are fewer disruptions. For example, if an employee is the first one in the office in the morning, this may be a good time to work on assignments that require more concentration. Also, remind employees that interruptions are inevitable, and for planning purposes, allow a little extra time for unexpected interruptions.
Schedule tasks for peak performance.
If possible, physically or mentally demanding work should be scheduled for when workers are at peak performance. This may vary depending on the employee and working conditions. For example, an employee who works outdoors during the summer months should avoid scheduling the most physically demanding work for when temperatures and humidity levels are at their highest, to the extent possible. Encourage employees to consider when they have the most energy and ask them to focus on bigger or more important projects during that time.
Ensure proper balance.
No matter how well employees manage their time at work, they are unlikely to perform at their best if they return to work each day stressed or lacking energy. Encourage employees to take regular rest breaks throughout the day, and consider a wellness program that encourages healthy habits.
Additionally, consider policies and practices that encourage employees to use paid time off. This helps employees recharge, spend time with family and friends, and take care of personal responsibilities — and be more productive when they are at work.
For example, some employers put a reasonable cap on how much vacation time an employee can accrue before they have to use it. In this case, employees have to "use" some of their time in order to earn any additional time. In states that permit use-it-or-lose-it policies, employers may encourage use by limiting the number of days that can be carried over into the next year.
Effective time management is important for any business. Provide your employees with the training and tools they need to optimize their performance.