It’s a common enough occurrence at any company — a task is assigned, a reasonable deadline is set, but at the end, so much work still needs to be done. Employing Occam’s Razor, the problem is simple: Time management, or to be more accurate, a lack of it.
Granted, there are also a lot of factors that need to be considered with every task, and it would be unreasonable to expect everything to go according to plan. Anyone who’s been working for a while know that many times, management and the people who actually do the work aren’t always on the same page. Sometimes clients can’t seem to make up their minds, and thus keep changing demands, even on the deadline itself, but still expect work to be done on time. Sometimes one or both of the parties involved don’t fully realize the scope of what’s needed in order for the task to see completion. Every job is different, every job is subjected to its own circumstances that either see it done early or on time, or see it delayed significantly.
That being said, one cannot ignore the importance of having proper time management in the workplace. And not just for rank-and-file, EVERYONE in the organization needs to learn to manage their time properly. And not just for big tasks — even something as mundane and boring as going through emails — the time you allot to do anything at work should be subject to a disciplined and efficient system. “Time is gold,” as the saying goes — trite and overused that adage might be, the truth behind it is no less accurate. Especially for a business, time is a resource that needs to be utilized in the best way possible.
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Why time management matters
Many employees will likely agree that in most organizations, things can happen in a frenzy. The pace is often fast, and it can be hard to keep up. That means not a lot of thought is likely given to time management; which is ironic, since proper time management can go a long way into making things easier, more efficient, and more effective. And for organizations, better time management all around means better productivity all around — without damaging or compromising quality. In fact, better time management will likely result not only in better productivity, but superior output as well.
An article from Recruiter says that companies should invest in time management training for employees. “Employees who lack time management skills often fall behind on their work. Deadlines whoosh past. They become demotivated, unproductive, and even unhealthy,” the article reads. The employee timesheet is not treated with respect and is underutilized — people tend to lean towards absenteeism, and management is a poor grasp of not only it’s employees, but how a project or task is progressing (and how it SHOULD BE progressing). A study by McKinsey agrees, stating that “leaders who are serious about addressing this challenge [of time management] must stop thinking about time management as primarily an individual problem and start addressing it institutionally.”
In addition, a lack of time management among employees can lead to that kind of mindset and attitude becoming a part of the company’s culture. Employees are more likely to be burnt out, unmotivated, and lacking in creativity. In turn, supervisors, managers and executives are more stressed out. Again, this spells disaster for any company aiming to become successful.
Improving time management also means things are done more efficiently — for an organization in particular, this could likely mean less expense on resources and whatnot, since more is done with less effort. This also leads to better decision-making by the powers-that-be since everyone has a better grasp of things. Delayed tasks can also result in delayed decisions, which have the potential of significantly affecting the organization in a negative way. Lost time can never be recovered, but creating more time means being able to tap into other opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to you due to time constraints.
Better time management leads not only to a better workplace and a better and more successful company, it also by extension improves the quality of life of all involved. Remember those horror stories from people who bring their work home with them? Better time management means people are more likely to enjoy their lives outside of work because everything is planned better. They know how and when tasks will likely be completed, they are more aware of the boundaries between work and their personal lives. This kind of positive effect returns back to the organization tenfold, as a culture of better time management creates a upbeat and uplifting environment at work, since everyone is happy and much more motivated to work, contribute, and stay in the particular company.
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3 key pointers on to manage time better
Fortunately, improving time management isn’t rocket science. It’s more about discipline and changing mindsets. It’s about creating a culture that values time, one where an employee timesheet is something more than just in and out timestamps. Better time management can be learned, taught, and institutionalized. As long as you really want it to happen, and you’re committed to seeing things through, better time management is more than just possible, it’s inevitable.
1. Keeping focus
A lot of times, the problems of time management are problems of focus, as an article from the Harvard Business Review explains. A lot of times, people get distracted from what they need to do. And it’s not so much by things like Facebook or social media, or even March Madness, but more often than not, employees, staff, and even executives can be put off track by other things in the workplace. Another Harvard Business Review article puts the losses caused by distraction to close to a trillion dollars every year.
So it’s important for senior executives to take it upon themselves to create and promote a culture of focus. just imagine a graphic design team, for example. They have certain deliverables that have to be submitted at a certain time, assigned by Department A and Department B, and Senior Manager A. The head of Department C, however, along with Senior Manager B, have their own tasks they want to assign, and they expect it to be completed in the same time frame as that of the other departments’. The problem here is that no one is on the same page. Everyone wants their tasks done and completed immediately. The team suffers because they don’t know what to do first, and they suddenly have an unreasonable turnover time for their tasks. Focus is letting people work at a reasonable pace and with tasks that don’t conflict with each other.
2. Avoid overwhelming people with initiatives
Related to the previous point, it’s important that organizations know how to pick their battles. Initiatives are all good and well, but if it means overloading employees, it’s just not worth it. Nothing really significant will ever come out of it, anyway. Good time management is also about setting priorities, and creating a pace of work where people can not only have sufficient time to think, create and fulfil their tasks, but also time to take a breather and catch their breath before their next obligations. Remember that overwhelmed employees work more poorly, and will be unable to properly focus because they have too much things on their minds.
This kind of overload of initiatives also means that people will be more likely to cut corners just to see deadlines met. Poor and low-quality output essentially defeat the purpose of the initiative, since even if it is successfully implemented, the benefits it is supposed to bring will not be maximized. And poor planning and poor time management being the foundations of these initiatives means that you’ll find yourself putting out more fires and more troubleshooting down the road. It’s just not worth it.
3. Create a backup plan
Part of time management entails giving people room to breathe. And room to live their lives. This means creating backup systems and policies in case of emergencies. This also means people will be less distracted when the unexpected happens. In addition, having a backup plan means that in case of emergencies, there’s less stress on the organization as a whole (as opposed to having people running around like headless chickens) because there are already protocols in place to help deal with the situation. Issues are solved faster and more efficiently, so everyone returns to regular programming sooner rather than later.
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The employee timesheet is more important than you think
Many managers and supervisors underestimate the power and potential of the employee timesheet. More than just a ledger of attendance, timesheets can be an essential tool in creating and monitoring how time is used in the organization. Such is the case with Runrun.it’s, which allows users to have a better and more solid grasp of how time is being spent in the workplace. You can view how much time is being spent on Project A, B, C, and so on. The tool is especially effective since it makes the simultaneous oversight of multiple teams and projects much easier (thus time is also saved), and managers are always on top of things. Having the proper time management tools and software is essential in creating a positive and healthy culture that leads of organizational success. To see how Runrun.it’s Smart Time Tracking (as well as its other useful tools) can work for your company, try the free trial here.