Like money, time is a resource that businesses must spend wisely. And just like wasted money, wasted time is sadly an issue that dooms many companies run by brilliant people with great ideas.
Time management doesn’t always come naturally. The key is to confront the problem with strategies aimed at keeping you on task. Here are a number of proven tips that will keep the ball rolling in the workplace.
80/20 Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle, named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, states that 20 percent of your efforts will result in 80 percent of your results. This may not be representative of your business, but certainly there are situations when an enormous amount of time and energy is spent on something that does not yield a great ROI.
Take the time to analyze your workday and assess how time is being spent. For instance, the five minutes you spent writing a brief email to a client was probably time well spent, but the additional 10 minutes you spent sending long emails back and forth – rather than a quick phone call – was certainly not as efficient.
The Pomodoro Technique
Created by Francesco Cirillo nearly 30 years ago, the Pomodoro Technique is based on the idea that your brain can only truly focus on a given task for 25 minutes. Experiment by setting a stopwatch and work for 25 minutes. At the end of that period, take a five minute break. Then do another 25 minutes of work. This philosophy claims to give people maximum focus and creative freshness, thus ensuring they complete projects faster with less mental fatigue.
Hold fewer meetings
Few things take up more valuable time than staff meetings. The next time you are in a lengthy meeting, think about how much of the discussion actually relates to the reason you arranged the sit down. How much of what is said in the meeting will even be remembered two days later? And how much of the information that comes about during the meeting will lead to actions?
In many instances, the solution is to simply hold fewer meetings. If your workplace has standing daily meetings, try operating for a couple weeks with only one or two meetings a week. You’ll likely find that email and one-on-one conversations are in many cases are more effective way to share information than an all-staff meeting.
When you do need to hold a meeting, aim to keep it short, with a goal of 10-15 minutes. Let everybody know that the meeting will end promptly at a certain time. Simply creating that expectation will set a tone for time management. Consider setting limits on each person’s speaking time. If you are asking each department head for an update on business, tell them they each have two minutes to summarize what’s going on. Telling people to share less may sound counterproductive, but it forces them to better organize their thoughts and speak with greater precision.
Stop relying on memory
Oftentimes, the more you rely on memory to keep your schedule intact, the more you are setting yourself up for failure. These days, not only do you have the ability to record almost all information you receive, but you can centralize it all in your gadget of choice.
For instance, when somebody gives you their business card, put their number and email into your phone and throw the card away. Or when you set up a doctor’s appointment, immediately put it in your calendar and set an alert to remind you the day before – and day of – the appointment. Eliminate time spent shuffling through emails and digging through paperwork.
The tried and true to-do list
While putting important meetings or tasks into your calendar is an essential habit, it’s also good to start a to-do list at the beginning of each day. Spend two minutes thinking about the things you need to do that day and jot them down or log them in a digital notes application. Today, there are many apps and techniques for the traditional to-do list - including the Bullet Journal - but for many people, a simple notebook and pen will do the trick.
Shut down social media
There are legitimate reasons to use social media for work. But browsing through your cousin’s wedding photos on Facebook or arguing with members of your fantasy football league are not an effective use of your workday.
If you keep your social media accounts open all day, you will find yourself spending a lot of time darting in and out of them in – responding to updates. That will prevent you from devoting your time and attention to whatever you’re trying to get done. Instead, consider rewarding yourself with a few minutes of social media at a designated time, after you’ve devoted your undivided attention to your work for a decent amount of time.
Employee time tracking
The key to using your time more effectively is understanding how you and your employees are currently using their time. Timesheet Mobile allows you to utilize multiple tools to examine how your employees are spending their workdays.
You can start by tracking the time you spend on different tasks throughout the day and ask your employees to do the same. In addition, you can set up geofences to see how much time employees are spending in certain areas - whether it’s at the office or at a job site.
You will quickly compile an enormous trove of data that you can analyze for trends. With that information, you will have a much better understanding of how time is being used and what improvements can be made.
Find what works for you
There are plenty of time management techniques out there, with some better-suited for certain personality types. Experiment, adjust and use time more wisely in the new year.