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Time management is one of those soft skills that gets mentioned quite often in the corporate world. So, what are the benefits of time management in the workplace and how can you improve yours and your staff’s time management skills?
In this post, we have listed 10 benefits of time management for the workplace and some tips for improving time management skills.
1) Productivity Improves
One of the main benefits of time management in the workplace is that productivity improves.
Time management techniques include prioritising the most important tasks. This means that you spend more time on tasks that allow you and your company to achieve your most productive goals.
2) Stress Reduction
If you and your staff can plan your time and prioritise the most important tasks, you will not need to rush to meet deadlines at the last minute.
As a result, your stress levels will go down (or, at least, there will be far fewer occasions in which you will need to feel under time pressure at all).
Stress is known for having a very bad impact on people’s health. As a result, a less stressed workforce is also a healthier workforce who is less likely to need time off sick. This has a positive impact on productivity.
3) Better Work Environment
This advantage of time management in the workplace derives directly from the previous one. If staff are less stressed, they are also more likely to get on, thus leading to a happier work environment altogether.
Companies with a good work environment also tend to have lower staff turnover. As hiring and training new staff is expensive and time-consuming, retaining your employees can only be a good thing for your company’s productivity.
4) Better Work-life Balance
If staff can manage their time better, they will not need to work late every day or on their days off.
So, employees will be able to switch off during their time off and achieve a better work-life balance. This way, they will avoid burnout and be healthier (which will have a positive impact on the company they work for).
5) Improved Quality of Services and/or Products
Without feeling under pressure to meet tight deadlines, you and your staff will be able to focus on delivering quality products and/or services to your customers. This will give you an edge over your competitors.
When you rush to finish something quickly because you do not have time, you also have less time to think things through and to quality-check. So, this is one of the biggest benefits of time management in the workplace.
6) Meeting Deadlines
It almost goes without saying that improving your time management skills leads to meeting deadlines.
Deadlines are very important as they motivate us to get things done, but they can be a cause of stress. With proper time management strategies, you will be able to meet deadlines without the need to stress over them.
7) Better Decision Making
Better time management skills also lead to better decision making. Managers, in particular, can feel very stressed and under pressure when trying to make a decision, especially if they are short of time.
Good time management skills free up time. This allows people more time for important tasks, such as pondering over key issues before rushing to make a decision.
8) Eliminate Procrastination
Procrastinating is something that most of us do and it is an attitude that is hard to eradicate completely.
However, procrastination can be greatly reduced if we understand the reasons why we procrastinate and how to tackle them. This is something that every good time management training course helps participants to achieve.
9) Become More Successful at Work
As you and your staff become less stressed, happier and more productive, you will also be more likely to have a greater chance of rewards and career advancements.
This is good for staff and their motivation and moral, as well as for companies that retain their employees by giving them the opportunity to grow.
10) Time Is Money
The old proverb ‘Time is money’ is absolutely true for companies. All the above benefits of time management in the workplace ultimately lead to making or saving money!
Ways to Improve Time Management in the Workplace
Set Clear Goals
The first step towards good time management practices is to set goals. If you do not know what your goals are, you will not be able to know which tasks need prioritising as they help you towards achieving your goals.
Goals need to be what is commonly referred to as SMART. I.e., Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Once you know what your goals are, look at the tasks that come your way and ask yourself:
‘Does this task help me achieve one of my goals?’ and ‘Will doing this task today help me make tomorrow better?’
If the answer is ‘yes’, then the task is worth doing. If the answer is ‘no’, then you might want to think about eliminating that task altogether.
Urgency is also a consideration when prioritizing tasks. This is related to when a task is due to be done. Is there a deadline? What are the implications of carrying out that task later rather than doing it immediately?
One of the most commonly used techniques for prioritising is the time management matrix. This system was popularised by Stephen Covey.
The time management matrix has four quadrants in which you slot tasks depending on if they are: urgent and important; urgent and not important; important and not urgent; not important and not urgent.
The aim is that, eventually, all the tasks we decide to engage in should fall within the ‘important and not urgent’ category.
Setting goals and prioritizing is not enough without planning. There are many ways to plan and various techniques you can use, of which three are listed below.
Break Down Big Projects into Smaller Objectives and Tasks
Breaking down big projects into smaller objectives and tasks is key if you do not want to feel overwhelmed. If you do not know where to start, think about what steps you need to take to achieve your goal.
Make a list of tasks, allocate them to slots in your calendar and then focus on one small task at a time. Take baby steps and, before you know it, you will arrive at your destination.
Use ‘To Do’ Lists
To do lists are very useful to plan your tasks. However, they are more effective and easier to follow if you allocate your tasks to specific times in your calendar.
Also, it is a good idea to separate the list into: overall, monthly, weekly and daily ‘to do’ lists. This way, you will not feel overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks.
Use Kanban Boards
A kanban board is a system for managing processes, which was first used in Japan by Toyota. A kanban board can be complex and involve various steps.
For time management purposes though, a kanban board is a physical or electronic board with three columns headed: to do, in progress and done.
You then use labels or sticky notes, write one task only on each label and stick it under the ‘to do’ column. When the task is done you move it to the ‘in progress’ column and, finally, into the ‘done’ column once it is completed.
This is a good way to make your tasks more tangible and visualise them as they move through the process to completion.
Even when tasks do not have an inherent deadline, it is good practice to set a deadline for them anyway. This will give you an urgency to complete a task, rather than to keep postponing it.
There are many reasons why we procrastinate. These can range from perfectionism, to feeling overwhelmed, lack of passion or lack of resources.
This is why it is important to identify the reasons for procrastination so you can tackle the issue from its root.
Many tasks that we do can be safely automated, in order to free up time for people to focus on tasks that require the human touch.
If there is anything that you can automate do it. Don’t be a slave to technology but use it to your advantage.
Automating can involve a learning curve and time to set up a system to start with, but it will save you time and money in the long run.
This tip applies to team leaders and managers in particular. Quite often, there are tasks that come your way but that do not require you to necessarily do them.
In your team, there will be someone who has the skills to carry them out (and who actually may be even more competent than you at a specific skill). So, trust them and delegate that task to them, so you can focus on those things that require your direct input.
It is good to be accurate but beware of perfectionism as it can hold you back. Nothing can ever be 100% perfect, so stop at the point at which you think the standard is good enough for that particular task.
If you focus on absolute perfection, you will never get anything done.
Keep Your Workspace Tidy
If you keep your workspace tidy, you will not waste time trying to find what you need every time you have to do something.
Likewise, keep a tidy filing system for all the documents you need, either physically or electronically.
Many people think that they can multitask and can save time by doing so. This is wrong. Multitasking is a myth.
When we think we are multitasking, we are instead rapidly switching from one task to another. This means that, every time we switch, we lose focus and we waste time trying to concentrate again when we go back to the original task.
Focusing on one task at a time is key for speed.
Group Similar Tasks Together
Another time-saving tip is to group together tasks that are similar. Similar tasks are likely to need similar resources to be carried out.
So, if you can do them one after the other, you will already have most of what you need in place. This will save you time from having to gather the needed resources again.
Remove or Limit Distractions
Distractions in the workplace can be emails that are not relevant to the specific task you are carrying out at that moment; meetings that are not needed and various interruptions.
A way to remove distractions is to allocate time slots to tasks. For example, have all meeting in the morning or check emails only at allocated times.
Also, consider carrying out important tasks in quite locations, where you are less likely to be interrupted.
Remember the 80/20 Rule
The Pareto principle states that roughly 80 percent of events derive from 20 percent of the causes. The same applies to time management.
According to this rule, 20 percent of your activities account for 80 percent of your results. So, do not focus on how many tasks you carry out in a day but on the impact of the tasks you do.
Focus on the results you achieve, rather than on the number of activities you spend time on.
Last but not least, a very important tip for ways to improve time management in the workplace is to allow time for breaks.
A rested member of staff is likely to be refreshed and to make fewer mistakes. As we know, mistakes can cost a lot of time and money!
You can avoid many mistakes by allowing time for breaks.
Training Your Staff in Time Management Skills
As we have seen, the benefits of time management in the workplace are many. There are also many things to consider if you want to find ways to improve your employees’ time management skills.
The fastest and most effective way to introduce these concepts is with a training session.
If you are an in-house trainer or a freelance trainer who has been asked to deliver time management training for a company, save your self some time and buy an off-the-shelf time management training course, such as the one we offer.
Our courses include professionally designed PowerPoint slides, lesson plans with clear objectives, detailed guidance for trainers with trainer notes, handouts for participants and more. All materials are fully customisable.
Paul Symonds PhD
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