Time management skills help you and your team work faster and more efficiently. In other words, you work smarter!
By leveraging your time correctly you can prioritise important tasks and avoid distractions like social media. Ideally, we would all like to fit our responsibilities in the typical 8 hour working day. However, because of poor time management, we often take work home or pull all-nighters to hit important deadlines.
By practising time management techniques you can be more productive, motivated and most importantly happier with what you do.
What are time management skills?
Time management is a process that involves strategic planning of how you spend your time to improve completion and performance rates. It entails distributing your available time accordingly to what has to be done and how much time each task will take.
Normally, when it comes to working tasks, we frequently feel less motivated, causing us to slack off and spend time basically doing nothing. This makes us frequently postpone tasks for the next day simply because we weren’t able to manage our working hours successfully.
Improving your time management skills in regards to work comes with many benefits like enhancing your performance, achieving goals and obviously, being more time-efficient. This, in turn, will better your work-life balance and provide you with more time to do the things you love
You should plan your time between your most urgent tasks and regular daily responsibilities. To be successful with time management you have to find the sweet spot where your performance is not tampered with but work is done with less effort and in less time.
How to improve your time management skills
Prioritize tasks: It’s important to know how to organize and prioritize your tasks. Rate them by most to least urgent and work your way through them. Leave the least urgent ones for last.
Eliminate distractions: Distractions is the main culprit for why we procrastinate at work. This includes social media, chatting with colleagues, smartphones and so forth. Try to get into the habit of only doing this during breaks.
Avoid multitasking: Although it might sound like a productive strategy, it actually really isn’t. You end up starting a lot of tasks and not completing most of them in time. Stick to one task at a time, so you can keep track of what has to be done.
5 ways time management skills improve productivity
1) Improves team performance
One of the main benefits of time management is that your overall performance drastically improves. By having a detailed schedule of how to organise your workload, you’ll have a better understanding of what has to be done and how much time you have to complete it. This means, less time is being spent figuring out what to do and when to start. It also provides less space for procrastination as you should include dedicated hours for breaks and relaxation.
Providing only a limited amount of time for your tasks forces you to be analytical and efficient in how you choose to spend it. You’re more likely to have higher levels of focus as you try to complete what has to be done without passing the time limit. However, be careful, don’t feel the need to rush projects just so you hit the set deadline.
As you should first prioritise the projects that need to be done more urgently, you can keep track of all the necessary steps it takes. With this, you don’t get lost in the never-ending hole of work. Prioritising what is most important allows you to dedicate more time to these tasks so that you can ensure they are completed successfully.
2) Reduces stress and uncertainty
It’s not news that in today's workforce the majority of us are feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the responsibilities required by us. In 2019, a staggering 94% of American workers report experiencing stress at their workplace.
Even though there are many reasons why one would feel stressed, the most frequent reason is the lack of proper communication with their teams. This then leads to feelings of uncertainty within workers about what is expected from them.
When there is a lack of communication in the workplace, there is a higher chance that expectations are being unmet. These expectations are not only those of the company but also what employees hope to achieve as well. Teams end up missing deadlines, appointments and not understanding what their roles are in a project. Which as you can imagine, drastically reduces the overall performance of a team.
By adopting time management techniques within your team, what is expected from you should be crystal clear. This should then remove any uncertainty you may have felt before. As tasks are assigned correctly and communication flows, you’ll know what you should be working on and until when. Especially, if you work on these skills as a team, understanding how other teams members are balancing their time, you can then adapt tasks accordingly. As mentioned in a McKinsey report, well-connected teams see a productivity increase of 20-25%.
3) Increases completion rates
We’ve all struggled at some point with meeting deadlines, either due to lack of organisation or an overload of work. In most cases, we adopt coping strategies like pulling all-nighters to get the job done in time. But these types of strategies come with their own consequences, like increased exhaustion and delays in other projects that need to be completed.
This is why time management is especially important when dealing with multiple projects at the same time. About 46% of project leaders state that achieving project deadlines is their biggest issue. We humans have a limited capacity of storing all important information in our minds without slipping up, making it difficult without some type of tracking process.
Take some time to plan with your team how projects will be completed by the desired deadline, each member can then appropriately manage their own responsibilities. In most cases, the reason why a project wasn’t completed in time, is because of dependencies. This is when your task can only start (depends) when the previous step is completed.
With good communication and time blocking strategies, you can work on other important tasks while you wait for the dependencies to be finalized by other team members. Without time management you would most likely spend your time waiting around rather than moving on to something else that can be done in the meantime.
4) Reduces the number of time-wasters
Time-wasters must be the biggest obstacle for companies when it comes to improving team productivity. It is said that over 80% of employees waste any amount of time, with the highest being 3 hours in the average workday. That is almost half a working day of doing nothing of value!
Time-wasters, if you’re not familiar with the term, is defined as any action that doesn’t improve or progress your work responsibilities. This can be being on the phone for too long, social media, chatting with colleagues and also an abundance of unnecessary meetings.
Of course, everyone needs breaks and we encourage it! However, there should be designated times throughout your working day for them. Over 30% of people state that the main reason why they waste time at work is because of lack of motivation. Time management can help fix this as it has been proven that small achievements increase motivation to keep going.
Let’s also consider the fact that every time your leave what you're doing to distract yourself or procrastinate, it takes an average of 15 minutes (https://www.atlassian.com/time-wasting-at-work-infographic)to get back on track. This means that if you take 4 breaks you lose a whole hour of work. By dedicating tasks to specific days and times, as well as keeping track of important deadlines, you’ll feel motivated to keep going and less of a need to go have “watercooler” chats.
5) Improve team collaboration
You as an individual should not be the only one focusing on improving your time management skills. It should apply to your whole team so that collaboration between members is optimal. This involves everyone including the team leads or managers, who have the responsibility of ensuring that everyone can work smoothly within their working hours.
Companies should have time management integrated into their culture so that each member has the right tools and techniques from the start. By creating a habit of allocating specific hours for tasks and discussing deadlines and dependencies, you also create a culture of accountability.
Accountability is when individuals take responsibility for what is expected from them. With good organisation and communication, plus effectively managing their working hours, each team member will feel accountable for their tasks. This is especially important when having to justify why the team doesn’t achieve deadlines on time.
Also, as each member works on these skills and improves how they manage their work, we can easily assume that the team's overall performance would also increase. This will then also eliminate any tensions that could have been caused by poor organisation. For example, discussions on who is responsible for what or the fact that people need others to complete tasks so they can start with what was assigned to them.
What are the consequences of poor time management?
Having poor time management skills can be detrimental not only to you as an individual but to the company as a whole. When staff are missing deadlines and productivity is low, this ends up costing the organisation. Not only does that mean more employees need to be hired to achieve expectations but they run the risk of losing clients.
Apart from the reduction in task completion rates, other main issues you may encounter are:
Lack of prioritization: If there is no prioritisation process you’ll find yourself and your team spending time on meaningless tasks or those that could be worked on at a later date.
Reduced motivation and morale: As mentioned previously with lack of communication employees feel uncertain about what they’re supposed to do and end up losing motivation.
Impact on wellbeing: Lack of organisation on what to do and when, will lead people to take work home, which increases stress and burnout.
Go a step further with a work management software
Although it’s important to put into practice time management skills, we humans are not capable of managing every variable and constraint by ourselves. You would most likely use calendar apps and a to-do list to try and be as time-efficient as possible. However, this is not a proper system as it lacks complexity and prioritisation.
This is why a work management software like Planless can ensure that your team is working at 100% of their capacity, no more, no less. According to a study done in 2021, an absurd 82% of people don’t use any time management system. Makes you wonder, how they’ve been thriving all this time… With the use of an AI-driven algorithm, Planless can automatically plan, assign and optimize your teams' workload. All you have to do is, add what needs to be done, how much effort it takes and when it needs to be completed. Then, Planless will find the best person with the right skill set and availability to complete the task properly and on time.