According to a survey done by Salary.com, businesses lose an average of 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday because of wasted time. If you’re running a business or managing a coworker, you may encounter employees who struggle with time management. Here are 8 tips to help such employees improve their time management skills:
- Offer support and resources
Let the employee know that you are there to support them and offer resources, such as time management apps or training materials. Here are several ways you can do this:
- Provide training: Offer time management training or workshops to help employees learn strategies and techniques for managing their time more effectively.
- Recommend tools: Many time management apps and tools are available to help employees track and manage their time more effectively. Some options include calendars, to-do list apps, and project management software. There is different time-tracking software specifically designed for professionals, such as attorney time-tracking software, time tracking software for architects, etc.
- Create a supportive work environment: Encourage employees to take breaks, delegate tasks, and eliminate distractions to create a more supportive work environment for time management.
- Be available for support and guidance: Let employees know you can offer support and guidance as they work to improve their time management skills.
- Encourage the use of a planner or calendar
Encourage the employee to use a planner or calendar to visualize and plan their schedule. Encouraging employees to use these tools can help them:
- Visualize their schedule: Seeing their tasks and commitments on a calendar or planner can help employees better understand how their time is being used and identify potential conflicts or bottlenecks.
- Plan their day: By planning their day, employees can prioritize tasks and allocate their time more effectively.
- Stay organized: Using a planner or calendar can help employees stay organized and avoid feeling overwhelmed by their tasks.
There are many different planners and calendars available, so it may be helpful to encourage employees to try out a few different options to find one that works best for them. Some options include paper planners, digital calendars, or project management software.
- Help them set specific goals
Work with the employee to set specific, achievable goals for their work and schedule. By working with employees to set these goals, you can help them:
- Prioritize tasks: Setting goals can help employees identify their most important tasks and allocate their time accordingly.
- Stay motivated: Having clear goals can help employees stay motivated and focused on what needs to be done.
- Track progress: Tracking progress towards goals can help employees see how far they have come and stay motivated to continue.
To set specific, achievable goals, try using the SMART goal-setting method:
- Specific: Make sure the goal is specific and clearly defined.
- Measurable: Make sure the goal is measurable so you can track progress.
- Achievable: Make sure the goal is realistic and achievable, given the resources and time available.
- Relevant: Ensure the goal is relevant and aligns with the employee’s objectives.
- Time-bound: Make sure the goal has a specific deadline to help keep the employee on track.
- Offer assistance with task prioritization
Task prioritization is an essential aspect of effective time management. By helping employees identify their most important tasks and prioritize them accordingly, you can help them:
- Allocate their time effectively: By focusing on their most important tasks first, employees can ensure they use their time efficiently.
- Meet deadlines: Prioritizing tasks can help employees ensure they meet and stay caught up.
- Avoid feeling overwhelmed: By focusing on their most important tasks first, employees can avoid feeling overwhelmed by their workload.
There are several strategies that employees can use to prioritize tasks, such as:
- The ABC method: This method involves categorizing tasks as A (important and urgent), B (important but not urgent), or C (not essential). Employees should focus on A tasks first, followed by B tasks, and finally, C tasks.
- The Eisenhower Matrix: This method categorizes tasks as urgent and essential, not urgent but important, urgent but not important, or neither urgent nor important. Employees should focus on urgent and important tasks first, followed by not urgent but important tasks, and so on.
- The Pareto Principle: This principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Employees can use this principle to identify their most important tasks and focus on them first.
- Encourage breaks
Encourage the employee to take regular breaks to rest and recharge.
Taking regular breaks is an important aspect of effective time management. Encouraging employees to take breaks can help them:
Stay focused and energized: Working for long periods without a break can lead to burnout and decreased productivity. Taking regular breaks can help employees stay focused and energized throughout the day.
Avoid burnout: Working long hours without breaks can lead to burnout and decrease job satisfaction. Encouraging employees to take breaks can help prevent burnout and improve overall well-being.
Improve productivity: Research has shown that taking breaks can improve productivity by giving the brain a chance to rest and recharge.
It’s essential to encourage employees to take breaks that are long enough to be restorative but not so long that they lose focus and momentum. Short breaks, such as a 5-10 minute break every hour, can be a good balance. Encourage employees to use their breaks to do something that helps them relax and recharge, such as taking a walk or getting some fresh air.
- Help them eliminate distractions
Please work with the employee to identify and eliminate distractions hindering their productivity.
Distractions can be a significant hindrance to effective time management. Working with employees to identify and eliminate distractions can help them:
- Stay focused: By eliminating distractions, employees can stay focused on their work and avoid losing time to interruptions.
- Improve productivity: Research has shown that distractions can significantly impact productivity, so eliminating them can help employees be more productive.
- Avoid feeling overwhelmed: Distractions can add to the feeling of being overwhelmed, so eliminating them can help employees feel more in control of their workload.
To help employees eliminate distractions, you can:
- Encourage the use of tools to block or limit distractions: Many tools and apps can help employees block or limit distractions, such as social media or email notifications.
- Create a distraction-free work environment: Encourage employees to work in a quiet, distraction-free environment.
- Encourage the use of headphones: Encourage employees to use headphones to block out noise and distractions when working.
- Encourage delegation
If employees have too much on their plate, encourage them to delegate tasks to others. Delegating tasks can be an effective way for employees to manage their workload and improve their time management skills. Encouraging employees to delegate tasks can help them:
- Lighten their workload: Employees can reduce their workload and focus on their most important tasks by delegating tasks to others.
- Improve productivity: Delegating tasks can help employees be more productive by allowing them to focus on tasks that best use their skills and expertise.
- Build team skills: Delegating tasks can also help employees build teamwork and leadership skills.
To encourage employees to delegate tasks effectively, you can:
- Encourage employees to identify tasks that you can delegate: Encourage employees to look for tasks that can be delegated to others, either within their team or to external resources.
- Help employees identify the right person to delegate to: Work with employees to identify the right person to delegate tasks to based on their skills and availability.
- Encourage employees to communicate clearly: Encourage employees to communicate clearly and concisely when delegating tasks, including setting clear expectations and deadlines.
- Help them learn to say no
Teaching employees how to say no effectively to non-priority tasks can help them manage their workload more effectively. Learning to say no is an essential aspect of effective time management. By helping employees learn how to say no to non-priority tasks, you can help them:
- Avoid overcommitment: Saying yes to every request that comes their way can lead to overcommitment and burnout. Teaching employees how to say no can help them manage their workload more effectively.
- Prioritize tasks: Saying no to non-priority tasks can help employees focus on their most important tasks and allocate their time accordingly.
- Improve productivity: By saying no to tasks that are not a priority, employees can avoid wasting time on tasks that are not the best use of their skills and expertise.
To help employees learn to say no, you can:
- Encourage employees to assess their workload: Encourage employees to regularly assess their workload and prioritize tasks based on importance and deadlines.
- Encourage employees to communicate their boundaries: Encourage employees to communicate their boundaries and limitations when taking on new tasks.
- Help employees find alternative solutions: If an employee is unable to take on a task, try to find an alternative solution or offer suggestions for other ways to address the request.
- Provide feedback and coaching
Offer constructive feedback and coaching to help employees improve their time management skills. Providing feedback and coaching can be a powerful way to help employees improve their time management skills. Here are some tips to provide effective feedback and coaching:
- Offer specific feedback: Instead of saying, “you need to improve your time management skills,” provide specific feedback on what the employee can do to improve. For example, “I noticed that you often get sidetracked by emails during the day. One strategy you could try is setting aside specific times to check emails instead of checking them constantly throughout the day.”
- Encourage self-reflection: Encourage the employee to reflect on their time management habits and identify areas for improvement.
- Offer resources and support: Offer resources to help employees improve their skills, such as time management training or tools.
- Be patient: Time management is a skill that takes time and practice to improve. Be patient and encourage employees to keep trying different strategies until they find what works for them.
By offering support and resources and helping the employee develop their time management skills, you can improve their productivity and efficiency in the workplace. Remember to be patient and supportive, as time management is a skill that takes time and practice to improve.