Effective teams recognize the importance of time management in the workplace! Learn how you can build a culture of care around where your time is spent.
When the working days feel short and the to do lists are long, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. You’re unsure which tasks to tackle first, struggle to find a flow state between meetings, and ultimately end up procrastinating throughout the day.
If you relate, you’re not alone. According to research, only 20% of people feel they have their workload under control on a daily basis, and over 10% feel that their work is never under control. This comes down to a lack of good time management skills.
If you or your team members struggle to make the most of the workday, don’t fret — good time management skills can be learned. Today, we’ll be taking a deeper look at the importance of time management in the workplace and how you and your team can master effective time management skills.
Time management is all about planning your activities to get the most out of your day. In the context of your professional life, you want to plan your workday to maximize your efficiency and get the most important tasks done faster.
Having the right time management tools in your arsenal can make a big difference to your workplace time management, helping to reduce stress and support your career growth. These essential skills include the ability to streamline processes and carefully plan activities.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s look at the importance of time management in more detail.
We’ve all spent days chained to our desks where we’ve barely made a dent in our task lists. You wonder how it’s possible until you remember the 30 minutes you spent scrolling through your inbox when you felt overwhelmed. The 2-hour-long meeting right after lunch. The last-minute urgent request that derailed your plans.
Time management in the workplace is important because, while it’s impossible to work at maximum efficiency 100% of the time, it helps limit these occurrences of distraction, procrastination, and wasted time.
Those who excel in leadership positions understand that good time management benefits not only the individual but the business too. Let’s look at some of the benefits of time management in more detail, starting with the key benefits to businesses:
There are also several benefits of good time management individuals can enjoy:
Now we understand the many advantages of good time management, let’s take a look at the real-world consequences of poor time management.
Procrastination is when people put off starting or completing tasks, typically because they feel overwhelmed by their task load. You can never eradicate procrastination — if we’re honest, we’ve all been there — but putting off important tasks for too long reduces productivity.
When employees have too much on their plate, they can become overwhelmed. When people feel overwhelmed, their productivity drops and their stress levels spike, eventually leading to burnout. This typically happens when employees fail to prioritize their workloads effectively or workloads are not distributed equally among team members due to poor resource management.
It’s easy to produce good quality work when you have enough time to focus on each task. But when your time management skills are lacking, this focus goes out of the window, resulting in missed deadlines, last-minute crunches to get work over the line, and poor quality outcomes.
As a manager, you’re not only responsible for managing your own heavy workload but creating a culture at work that supports effective time management for your team. A good manager leads by example, so start from the top by following these tips.
If you don’t understand how your team is currently managing their time, you can’t put a plan in place to improve their efficiency. Tracking utilization with time-tracking software not only supports operational efficiency by revealing opportunities for optimization but can also shine a light on individuals who need additional support.
Timesheet entries inform your employees’ utilization rates, providing a useful tool for reviewing how much time individuals spend on different tasks. However, it’s important to remember that utilization is just one metric, and output is ultimately more important than input. What one person can achieve in two hours differs greatly from their colleague’s output, and a job well done is a job well done, regardless of whether it took 30 minutes or 30 hours.
For a guide on how to introduce time tracking to a team that hasn't done it before, look no further! ➡️
Having a clear plan is critical for informing time management. You can use resource management tools to create project plans that clearly define what needs to be done, when, and by whom.
This helps provide clear direction for team members and reveals task dependencies, helping inform their individual task prioritization.
Plus, with a robust resource management tool on your side, you can allocate resources according to your plan and workers’ availability. With a birds-eye view of your available resources, you can ensure you balance workloads effectively to protect people’s time and get a clear understanding of who is working on what and when.
An added benefit of project planning and resource management is that these plans are available for all to see, creating a sense of transparency and accountability.
Clearly defined standard operating procedures — or set processes that all employees must follow — promote focus, accountability, and consistency. SOPs act as guidelines for employees, detailing workflow processes, decision-making procedures, and conflict-resolution strategies.
Having clear processes is key to building an effective team that feels empowered to make informed decisions when dealing with conflicting priorities, understands how their work impacts that of others, and can manage their time effectively.
The goal isn’t necessarily to encourage your team to work faster but to make the most of the time they have available. While it’s important to prioritize efficiency, this shouldn’t be at the expense of efficacy.
Meetings take up a huge amount of employees’ time. This is especially true in a post-pandemic world, where calls have replaced impromptu desk-side chats.
Research into how meetings impact our productivity has shown that a huge 65% of people feel meetings interrupt their workflow. In fact, while 15% of companies spend their time in meetings, 71% of meetings are considered unproductive.
But it's not the meetings themselves that are the issue; it’s unnecessary meetings that get in the way of focused work. Cutting down on unnecessary meetings helps your team be more engaged, productive, and focused. You can do this by:
It’s important to remember your team members’ priorities and personal needs. The ultimate goal is to balance getting the most out of their time with being an empathetic leader who doesn’t expect them to prioritize outcomes at work over their mental health. Empathy in the workplace can go a long way to improving team culture and — in the end — productivity.
Good time management is especially important when you have limited time available for work or juggle multiple competing priorities, such as work and childcare. No two people’s days are the same, nor are our capacities for focused work or engaging with others. Placing the same expectations on two workers also fails to consider their individuality and other needs, such as neurodiversity or disabilities.
Everyone learns and works differently. While there are techniques you can use to support your team at a top level, you also need to find the right approach for managing your time on a personal level. Here are our top tips for overcoming procrastination and overwhelm by managing your time better.
To do lists are a must for increased productivity. After all, how can you prioritize your work if you don’t have a list of everything you need to do?
An electronic to do list provides a secure and easy-to-access place for you to store all your outstanding tasks and the information you need to complete them. While old-school paper lists are fine, platforms such as Todoist allow you to set reminders, upload files, and assign priorities to each task, so you can wave goodbye to overwhelm and plan your days more efficiently.
Efficient time management doesn’t come naturally to us all. That’s why time management techniques exist. Here are some popular time management techniques to try.
Your work environment has a huge impact on your ability to concentrate, and it is your responsibility to eliminate distractions by setting yourself up for success.
Too many distractions around you can kill your productivity, so keep your workspace tidy, put your phone on silent (or in a drawer), and add a note to your desktop or email that lets your team know when you’re concentrating.
Creating a healthy work environment also means leaning into your ideal ways of working. For example, you can build your schedule around your energy levels; if you feel more collaborative in the morning and find concentration easier in the afternoon, you should arrange meetings early in the day and use the post-lunch period for focused work. Everyone is different; the key is finding what works for you.
Spending a few hours reconsidering your approach to time management can save you and your team a huge amount of stress and increase productivity in the long run.
By improving your processes and supporting your team in bettering their time management skills, you can get more done, deliver better results and make sure everyone enjoys a healthy work-life balance.
Struggling to meet new project demand? Enter capacity planning to validate if your people can handle the workloads.
Become an expert in earned value management, so you can identify and fix problems before they become disasters later on in the project lifecycle.