According to Donald Wetmore, a professional speaker and author of “Beat the Clock,” people use an average of 13 methods to manage time. Popular time management strategies include delegating tasks, creating deadlines and writing down to-do lists. Often, however, the volume of tasks employees must complete on a daily basis overwhelm them, and overall productivity and employee morale suffers. With the numerous distractions that modern offices and technology present, it’s not uncommon for employees to lose focus and fail to accomplish their tasks.
To prevent these problems, it’s important for managers to educate employees on time management techniques. Doing so helps prevent stress, foster employee satisfaction and boost productivity. With that goal in mind, here are four effective methods that you can teach employees:
1. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead allows you to mentally prepare for anything that could come your way. Encourage team members to map out each day’s tasks the night before, creating a list in any order, regardless of importance.
This activity will help prevent employees from procrastinating when they arrive to work the next day, since they will already have an idea of what their schedule is going to look like.
2. Prioritize Tasks
There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing off items on your to-do list. However, employees must be able to identify which tasks are a priority. Being able to recognize which items will help them move the needle on their goals is important. One helpful tool is the Eisenhower Matrix, which sorts tasks into four quadrants based on urgency and importance:
3. Understand the Role Energy Plays in Productivity
Energy levels play a significant role in productivity. On any given day, we experience peak-productivity hours and low-productivity hours. For example, “morning people” tend to be most focused and alert early in the day, and after lunch, their energy levels tend to dip. The opposite is true for “night owls,” who feel more productive in the afternoon and evening. Knowing when they tend to be more productive can help employees better manage their time.
Alternatively, team members could use a method that Jeremiah Dillon, who heads market insights and strategy for Google, uses. Dillon tells his team members they should:
- Plan to accomplish “low-demand tasks” on Mondays, when they are still recovering from the weekend.
- Tackle their most challenging tasks on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when energy peaks.
- Schedule meetings for Thursdays, when energy starts to decline.
- Plan “open-ended work, long-term planning, and relationship building” for Friday, when energy tends to be at its lowest.
4. Use Technology to Automate Certain Tasks
There are several tools that can help automate and manage tasks more efficiently. Finding the right solutions can help teams save time. Here are some ideas to try:
- Encourage team members to set up templates for frequent emails.
- Encourage employees to use digital calendars to visualize their schedule and tasks and to set up reminders.
- Use a time-tracking tool to monitor your time and to collect data on metrics such as time spent on individual tasks. This type of tool can help you identify ways to improve productivity.
One Final Tip…
It’s easy to become caught up in work and forget the importance of rest and downtime to maintaining focus and motivation. To that end, remind team members that any time they save on work can also be a moment to pause and take a breather. Work-life balance is important, and if you can teach employees to manage time effectively, it’ll be easier for them to find this equilibrium.