f you feel like you’re constantly on edge trying to finish projects on time and always a little panicky about deadlines, you’re not alone. Time management is a common issue within many organizations. In fact, you might be shocked to learn how much time is wasted due to poor time management.
According to Nick Trenton, author of 80/20 Your Life: Get More Done With Less Effort, Time, and Action, only 20% of the total workday is spent doing something of importance for the organization. That means a whopping 80% of the total time in the workday is spent on low-value tasks.
It’s not that workers are intentionally trying to avoid high-value tasks, it’s just that last-minute communications or tasks come up. This problem stems from packing our schedules airtight with little wiggle room for unexpected tasks.
However, we can’t blame time spent on low-value tasks solely on unexpected tasks. Another study found that three hours of a worker’s day is spent surfing the web for personal reasons. This issue most likely hasn’t improved since people started working from home due to the pandemic.
Why it’s Important to Manage Time for Productivity
Good time management starts with good habits. The better habits workers create, the greater the productivity. Here are some of the benefits of implementing better time management strategies:
- Less stress -- When you know you have time to get tasks finished on time, stress levels go down both at work and at home. Oftentimes, people bring their worries home with them, which can have a negative effect on work-life balance.
- Improved work-life balance -- Especially with so many employees working remotely from home, a poorly managed workday can result in longer hours worked, and that causes burnout and less sleep.
- More focus -- When schedules are better planned, people feel more confident in their ability to finish tasks, making them more focused. Improved prioritization gives people more control of their day to spend on goals and projects that matter.
- Increased productivity -- An efficiently managed schedule allows workers to prioritize tasks and finish them in a more timely manner. This means they can move on to the next task sooner to achieve more.
- Less procrastination -- With a clear focus on what needs to be accomplished in a specific timeframe, employees feel more in control of their workload, which helps them find more motivation to work on their biggest priorities.
These are just some of the benefits of having effective time management strategies in place. Improved time management also makes things simpler and easier for workers, eliminates distractions, increases energy levels, and gives employees more time to think clearly.
But how do you improve time management? Here are 3 effective time management strategies for your team:
1. Time Management Hacks
Improving time management is all about finding productivity methods that work. Here are a few methods that allow workers to accomplish more in a workday:
This productivity method has been around since the 1980s and has been popularized due to its efficacy. In a nutshell, it essentially works like this:
- Choose a task to work on
- Work on the task for 25 minutes with complete focus
- Take a 3 - 5 minute break after each session
- Take a 25 - 30 minute break after 4 sessions
This is a great way to improve productivity by giving ourselves a little reward after each session. Without something to look forward to, people have a hard time staying motivated.
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With this technique, you make a goal for each day, and once completed, you mark an X on your calendar. What you’re trying to do is not break the chain of Xs. You want to ensure you finish all of your tasks each day. The idea is that you will become psychologically averse to breaking the chain.
This stands for “Getting Things Done.” This has more to do with planning rather than working and follows a 5-step workflow: capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage. This comes down to prioritizing tasks and listing them in order of importance. This method was first laid out by David Allen, a time management expert that released a book of the same name.
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2. Mindset and Discipline
Time management all comes down to mindset and organization —setting yourself up for success with a routine. That could mean meditating in the morning, prioritizing certain tasks at certain hours of the day, or only holding meetings once a day for an hour.
Discipline starts with replacing decisions with principles. Dane Jensen writes in the Harvard Business Review that “continually facing decisions with important consequences and imperfect information can lead to what scientists call cognitive overload, in which the demands from the mental work we need to do outstrip our abilities to cope. Cognitive overload both increases the likelihood that you will make errors and contributes significantly to feeling overwhelmed.”
It’s important to approach tasks with a powerful mindset and solid intention to reduce the chances of feeling confused or overwhelmed.
3. Utilize a Task Management Tool
Make you and your employees accountable by using a task management system that reminds you of deadlines and where you are with your goals. This creates structure and minimizes distractions. A task management tool also holds workers accountable, as management can see in real-time where they are with a project and how many tasks they are completing each day.
Even more, task management tools like MetaSpark align outcomes with rewards by matching incentives to performance. Employees earn points for completing tasks on time, and over time, these points add up to meaningful rewards. Rewards can include gift cards to stores and restaurants, or donations to a favorite charity.
Time Management Simplified
Time management doesn’t have to be rocket science. There are numerous time management strategies as discussed in this article. It just requires a little bit of planning, putting techniques into practice, and utilizing modern-day technology. The payoff for putting effort into time management for your team is well worth the price.
Are you ready to help your team manage their time more effectively to be more productive?