Time is one of the most valuable resources we have at our disposal. However, no matter what you do, you can’t control it. Whatever you do, time will go its path, not waiting for anyone. The only way of “controlling time” is to manage it successfully.
But how exactly is this true? Why does Time Management play such a crucial role within organizations and teams, and how to increase the efficiency of Time Management — that’s something we’ll discuss through this article!
You probably know a couple of examples of bad time management, whether by you, your colleague, or someone else you know. Due dates that are breached, priorities that are mixed up, and time that’s wasted, these problems come with solutions of their own.
How do successful teams solve this issue, why exactly should we pay attention to Time Management in the first place, and what benefits will that bring to you, your team, or organization?
There’s quite an interesting opinion raised in this article that states: “Time Management is nothing but a myth”. It presents time as something that can’t be changed and with only 24 hours in every day, all we can manage is ourselves and what we do with the time on our hands.
And yes, if you think about it, we all get the 24h during a day, and the difference-maker is how that time is organized, what priorities are recognized, and which activities are planned. But first, let’s see what negative side-effects poor time management may bring.
What problems may arise with bad Time Management?
Bad time management comes with consequences, sometimes smaller, sometimes bigger, but — consequences nevertheless.
Failing to set priorities, retain focus while working on tasks, and turn off distractions are some of the most common examples of weak time management. Successfully managing time will lead you away from failure to reach agreed-upon goals and deadlines, it will make you feel less stressed, and it will boost your productivity and confidence.
On the other hand, you’ll see arguments and blame within the team, projects failing to reach deadlines, and clients turning towards other service providers if your attention to time management skills is left aside. These are just some of the reasons for people looking into proper time management techniques and tips, and yes — it’s quite possible to deal with it successfully.
Further on, the problem of poor Time Management can bring great issues with it, such as:
- Failing to plan and accomplish said goals is an indicator of poor efficiency. If priorities are not clearly stated, the effort may go into less important assignments, causing bigger issues along the way.
- As stated before, time = money. Thus, wasted time = wasted money? Well, you can certainly think of it in that way! Without clear guidelines, teams may end up wasting their time doing tasks that don’t directly aid the solution and may completely get sidetracked.
Loss of Control
- Without a plan to follow, without clear indications as to what the priorities are, loss of control may become a worrying topic. Anxiety and higher stress levels are sure to follow as the loss of “control of life” arises.
Poor Quality of Work
- There’s nothing worse than rushing to complete a task on time. That’s when most mistakes happen, and the poorer the Time Management, the poorer the final results. Yes, some people do their best work under pressure, but most people tend to do less quality work.
- Failing to meet goals and meet deadlines causes great insecurity with clients. Their expectations are affected, and should this become a repeating pattern, they are bound to move on somewhere where their timelines are respected.
, and all of a sudden it becomes clear that the solution to efficient Time Management is an interesting, and important topic!
Now that we’ve successfully recognized the consequences of poor Time Management, let’s get on to the solutions that we’ve discovered.
One of the main steps towards more efficient time management is the ability to figure out where you waste most of your time. A rather interesting survey by “salary.com”, found that 89% of respondents waste time every day:
- 31% waste roughly 30 minutes daily
- 31% waste roughly 1 hour daily
- 16% waste roughly 2 hours daily
- 6% waste roughly 3 hours daily
- 2% waste roughly 4 hours daily
- 2% waste 5+ hours daily
Understanding your habits, and figuring out which activities you waste time on — that play a key role in more efficient time management. And this can be completely individualistic, with everyone wasting their time in different ways. Whether it’s being distracted by constant social media notifications, chatting to friends outside of work, wasting time on private calls, etc. — realizing what it is that distracts you is the first step in resolving the issue.
If you are checking your cell phone for notifications and scrolling far more than you should — put it outside your field of view, and you’ll forget about it.
Dealing with these distractions successfully can make the difference between making the deadline or floundering with projects.
Techniques and Methods to help you improve your time management
Timesheets are an excellent way of keeping track of usage of time, giving an insight into activities done, and the time it took to accomplish them.
It will leave you with a visual representation of your time management and it may have a great psychological effect on you, as you see yourself go through the tasks.
There are a great many timesheet templates available, and which one you choose is completely up to you, but we feel like timesheets are a great way of increasing your productivity.
You’ve probably heard of this one before, right? In case you haven’t, let us introduce you to the “Pomodoro” technique. It is said to increase productivity and efficiency, but where did it originate from?
The Pomodoro technique was devised by Francesco Cirillo, during college. Namely, in search of help with learning, he found an ally in the kitchen ‘timer’ in the shape of a tomato, hence the name of this technique. When he saw the many positive effects of applying this technique, he decided to share it with the world.
The essence of the Pomodoro technique is to split your time into intervals. Cirillo originally went with the 25 — minute work, 5 — minute rest — but you need to find out which times work best for you. The idea behind it is that humans struggle with concentration and focus for longer periods and that they should have frequent “breaks” to regain their focus. 25 minutes of diligent work followed by a 5 — minute rest has the goal of ensuring that you focus on work while working, and you enjoy your “free” time, during the 5 — minute breaks.
Francesco Cirillo originally used a kitchen stopwatch, but nowadays you have apps with great interfaces, aimed at providing you with the necessary tools to try out the Pomodoro technique. If your goal is increased productivity, and eventually more successful time management, give this technique a try.
“Eat that frog”
We’ve mentioned this solution in the internal workshop that we’ve held with the team. The name might sound gruesome, but it’s an elaborate approach. Out of all the tasks you have on your schedule, only a few are difficult and complex. These tasks are referred to as “frogs”. The idea behind it is if you leave the frog alone, it’ll grow with time and become much more of a problem.
So, how do you deal with the frog? Well, you eat it when it’s tiny! Focusing on the biggest tasks first will leave you with much more enthusiasm to focus on other tasks since you’ll have a great sense of accomplishment having “eaten that frog”.
We’ve already said that we can’t change time, we can only change our habits — and setting detailed goals can be very helpful. Do you plan to increase your productivity and efficiency of accomplishing tasks, or do you aim to lower the stress levels that arise due to poor management?- having such clear goals defined can help you pinpoint the weak parts that could be improved.
Identify the frog. Eat it, don’t let it grow. Repeat the process. You’ll be delighted when you solve your biggest problem early in the morning!
Further Time Management Tools and Methods
In a recent article in which we’ve discussed “Project Management and its tools” we’ve mentioned a couple of unique and beneficial apps that might aid your time management and help you focus on your tasks. The full article can be found HERE, but in short, the apps that are mentioned are:
, and more details about them can be found within the PM blog post.
Further still, time management has its methods, as well. Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Waterfall, and so on — these are “frameworks that are used to structure, plan, and control the process of developing an information system” and can directly aid the increase in efficiency that you’re looking for.
Another step towards the solution is prioritizing. Daily Standups that many teams have now established as unavoidable parts of daily workdays can be perfect when it comes to discussing and setting priorities. With priorities set, it becomes a lot easier to focus on their execution. If you have 20 tasks to do that day, how many of them do need to be accomplished? Which of them are more/less important? Specifying these details can make the difference between a successful, efficient workday, or an inefficient one.
Benefits of solving the Time Management Issue
Let’s say that you’ve solved the issue of Time Management. What benefits are signs of your success? Well, here’s a short list:
- Stress relief — with better management of time, you are more likely to finish tasks within the timeframes set, and that will cause fewer “last minute” tasks, resulting in less stress in the long run.
- More time — essentially, if you do your tasks on time, you’ll find out that a lot more free time is available. Without having to bring your work home as a result of poor time management, you’ll have more time for yourself and your daily activities.
- More opportunities — if, and when, you sort out your time-wasting issues, and when you stop focusing on irrelevant tasks, you’ll see a lot more opportunities come your way. The ability to prioritize and schedule work accordingly is a skill highly sought after.
- Realizing goals successfully — there’s nothing better than the feeling of putting a tick mark next to a completed task. When your time is planned according to necessary tasks, you’ll see yourself ticking many finished tasks that will boost your morale further still! With extra practice, long-term, you’ll be able to finish tasks more efficiently and achieving objectives and goals within the time frame given will become a habit, rather than a challenge.
It’s quite interesting to see how many sides there are to Time Management. Its importance, solutions, and benefits of successfully managing it are different for each individual, but let’s agree that the benefits of efficient time management are quite obvious.
The methods that we’ve mentioned throughout this article are certain ways of improving the efficiency of your time management. However, we cannot pinpoint and say which one is the best, since the problem of time management is quite subjective. The first steps to sorting out the issue are more about realizing what the “distractions” are, where you’re losing time, etc.- and these you’ll have to find out on your own. Only then, after pinpointing the issues, can you work on the solution, hopefully with the help of some of the methods we’ve come across.
We’d be glad to hear from you, how do you manage your time, and what techniques help you do so successfully? Feel free to leave a comment, or send us a message — we are glad to hear your side of the story!