You know the feeling. You’re up to your eyes in documents and spreadsheets, words swimming around your mind. How different this all looked when it was just a checklist from your boss. And you think about that classic regret, “I wish I had managed my time better.”
The office is a minefield of distractions. Businesses would do well to properly train their employees in time management techniques to increase their productivity and well-being better.
This article will outline the best time management training techniques and practices in use today. We’ll also discuss their benefits and how poor time management can affect a workplace.
Effects of poor time management in business
It’s important to note what could happen when your employees practice poor time management. If they do, expect these problems to pop up:
Low quality work output
Work tends to pile up very quickly, and it can be challenging to put your 100% into each effort as the day goes on. If you don’t manage your time right, your performance will suffer. Burnout is all too likely.
Deadlines will be missed, and you will fall further behind in work. To simply finish a project, quality may be compromised. In fact, if kept up long enough, this will become a habit that becomes harder and harder to break.
One rarely works isolated. From the lowest entry-level job to the CEO, many aspects of work depend on one another.
For example, failure to accomplish work by deadlines means the rest of your team must wait until the member responsible finishes it. It’s not pleasant having to pick up the slack of your co-worker, and strained relationships may grow out of these interactions.
Disrupting the workflow is never good for the morale of a workplace.
Stress and work-life imbalance
Everyone dreads having to take work home with them due to not completing it. Poor time management results in unfinished work resulting in unwanted stress.
Stressed-out employees are always a problem. Unhappy, unhealthy, burnt-out staff are less likely to produce good quality work, which further adds to the stress when reprimanded.
Employees experiencing this also tend to have a high rate of absenteeism and later a high chance of not returning to the company.
Business is affected
The bottom line is that having poor workers means poor business. The company ends up paying the cost for these workers, all because of their poor time management. Squandered resources, lowered return on investment, and lost clients are all pitfalls you want to avoid.
Key benefits of time management training
Looking at the other side, implementing time management training in your workplace can result in these key benefits:
Better ability to manage work
There are many skills one can get after going through time management training. Investing in learning techniques can help you learn the fundamental aspects of successfully managing your time and boost your ability to get more work done each day.
Much improvement will come to your ability to focus for longer periods. Self-discipline is key to this process. When you focus well, you can think more clearly and make better decisions.
You increase your overall effectiveness by gaining more conscious control of how you spend your time.
Better work-life balance
Knowing how to manage your work time can reduce stress and improve your ability to function normally. By keeping things where they should be (work in the office and your personal life outside it), you can achieve a better work-life balance and have a healthier perspective on your activities.
Time management training is a factor for overall employee satisfaction. Managing your job within your life is especially important now as the line between work and home life gets blurred due to remote setups.
Better professional reputation
A good, balanced work style does wonders for your professional image. Within your workplace, co-workers and superiors will think highly of you and recommend you for important roles. This also helps a lot should you begin to consider career opportunities beyond.
Best practices for employee time management training
There is no single way to conduct time management training. Your workplace and its employees are different from others, and a one size fits all approach is not the best way to address the issue.
Take these tips in mind when applying time management techniques:
Coach those who need help
After you have implemented your techniques to your team, observe them for a time. Pay attention to who is improving and who isn’t.
For those that are struggling, consider scheduling coaching sessions. An effective practice is to pair those who have already adjusted well to managing their time with those who haven’t.
Model effective skills
Be an example of what you expect to see in your employees. They often learn the best by watching how their leaders perform. You may also look to your superiors and model your practices after one you believe to be a good model of productivity.
Train using group activities
Time management training can be effectively carried out in a group setting. Try different activities such as webinars, on-site seminars, workshops, online conferencing, or other team events.
Group activities also have the added benefit of fostering teamwork and good culture in your workforce.
Spot most productive times
Have your employees identify which times during the day they are most productive. This doesn’t mean that they will work only during those times, but so that they will be consciously alert for the times they aren’t.
Important tasks can be scheduled for more productive hours, ensuring they are completed faster. This may also apply to groups, such as deciding when to schedule meetings. Asynchronous schedules may also be considered.
Encourage training courses
If you are not confident to conduct training yourself or feel that what you have taught is inadequate, don’t be afraid to explore other options. There are many time management training courses that are available online.
Investing in the right courses can be good for your business in the long haul. Set a schedule when employees can learn during their working hours or encourage them to learn part-time.
Don’t be scared to look online for help! Just like training courses, many tools (especially in the form of apps) can assist you in providing better time management.
Look at sites that offer technology such as time-tracking software, online calendars, or personalized to-do lists. These are only a few types of tools that will enable employees to cut down on their tasks and let them juggle multiple responsibilities.
Trying to do too many things at once damages our brain. Doing so may lessen focus and decrease individual productivity.
While this may be a skill for many, it would also benefit to try the alternative once in a while and concentrate on one goal at a time.
Understand the role that energy plays in productivity. A healthy mind is most ready to take on the challenges of work.
Exercise boosts energy levels. It also clears your mind of distracting thoughts, which would have only worsened your work. Walking around your work area can dramatically psych you up for your next task.
Organize your physical workspace
It’s highly recommended that one works in a neat, tidy space. Clear away anything that can serve as a distraction and lay all the materials and information that you need within easy reach.
Miscommunication leads to conflict and confusion. If your co-workers do not understand what they’re supposed to do, overall productivity is affected. Therefore save time by communicating information.
Tools will also come in handy here. Use messaging apps or synchronized calendars or bulletins to communicate to your team.
Time management training methods
Figuring out a time management training technique involves exploring different ways. Here we have seven of the most popular ones. Feel free to personalize as well to fit your style:
1. Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique was invented by Italian Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It is named after a tomato-shaped kitchen timer (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato) that Cirillo found as a university student.
The Pomodoro Technique is a simple method he developed to commit large chunks of time to a certain task.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and get to work.
- When the timer sounds, take a five-minute break.
- When the break ends, repeat the timer for 25 minutes and resume work.
- After four rounds of a work-break session, take a longer break of 15 minutes.
The time allotted to each session can be adjusted. However, the core principle is that the sessions are long enough to be productive yet short enough so as not to be overwhelming.
2. Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule
The Pareto Principle was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of the wealth in Italy belonged to only 20% of the population. In the early 1950s, Dr. Joseph Juran developed this principle for business contexts into the idea that 80% of a project’s benefit comes from doing 20% of the work. Thus, its alternative name is the 80/20 rule.
As for your time management training, the Pareto Principle organizes your tasks in a chart to determine priority.
- Make a list of all the problems/ tasks you are facing.
- Identify the root causes of each problem.
- Assign a score to each problem. The bigger the problem, the higher the score.
- Group the problems by root cause.
- Add up the scores within each group. The group with the highest score is the one with the highest priority.
- Take action.
If you want to go further, the data from the chart may be used to create a graphical representation in the form of a bar or line graph.
3. Eisenhower Matrix
Former US President Dwight Eisenhower invented this technique while having to make difficult decisions as an Allied Forces commander in World War II. This technique works by sorting out tasks by urgency and importance.
- List down all your tasks.
- Create a 2×2 table. The trend of left-to-right will measure urgency, and the trend of top-to-bottom will measure importance.
- On the top row of your table, the left quadrant are tasks you do first, while the right quadrant are tasks that can be scheduled for later.
- On the bottom row, the left quadrant are tasks that you should delegate to others, and the right quadrant are tasks that may be deleted or postponed to a later date.
4. GTD or Getting Things Done
The GTD method aims to clear your mind of all project responsibilities before taking actionable steps to complete them. Its inventor, David Allen, created it for stress-free productivity.
- Collect and write down anything that has your attention.
- Clarify what it means and decide what to do with it- should it be delegated, done right now, or deleted?
- Organize tasks into categories.
- Reflect on and review your work. Make frequent updates to track your progress.
- Engage and simply do, using your system to take action.
5. Eat That Frog
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain
This means starting your day by doing the most arduous tasks first, then saving the easier ones for later. You will get a sense of satisfaction from accomplishing the heaviest tasks first so that you won’t be as troubled by the rest later on.
Some tips to remember:
- Adopt a positive attitude
- Stop looking for shortcuts
- Eat one “frog” at a time
- Take action
6. RPM or Rapid Planning Method
This method is developed by motivational speaker Tony Robbins as a system of thinking. It intends to train your mind to focus on a vision of your goals and making them real.
Robbins has also fittingly called it the Results-oriented, Purpose-driven, Massive Action Plan.
- Begin by capturing all the things you need to work on in a written list.
- “Chunk” your workload. Group your tasks by categories and areas of life mastery (such as family issues, work issues, etc.).
- Create your RPM blocks.
- Divide a paper into three columns.
- In the first column, write down your main task and the smaller steps you will take to achieve it. This section constitutes your MAP (Massive Action Plan).
- In the second column, write down the result you hope to attain.
- Finally, in the third column, write down your purpose for doing those tasks.
- Give yourself an identity term. The purpose here is to create a new empowering role for yourself to release the enthusiasm and excitement to complete your plan. For example, you can call yourself “Exercise King” or the “Work Project Warrior.”
7. Pickle Jar Theory
This theory examines what is useful and what is not in your daily life. It presents a visual of a large glass jar filled with rocks, pebbles, sand, and water. The most important tasks are the rocks, while the sand is the least important.
The actual contents may change with every retelling, but the philosophy remains the same. List your tasks and group them by the categories set by the contents of the jar.
Setting time estimates next to the tasks will also be helpful. Try not to schedule more than an eight-hour work period would allow. This leaves some space for the “water” in your jar or the smaller activities that fill the rest of your life.
The value of time management training in your business
As said earlier, the line between work and home life is being blurred. More than ever, one needs to examine how they go about their work. Time management training allows you a method to do so.
For all businesses seeking to achieve their goals, training in time management is a necessary step. Evaluate your employees’ needs and choose the right time management training plan for them and their environment.
Training fosters productive and happy working settings. And even by training just yourself, you’ll be in a better place to help others reach their targets.