Have you ever wished you had more time? It’s a common feeling we all face. Time is arguably the most valuable resource during anyone’s workday. This is true for leaders, and employees.
But how employees manage this resource can make the difference between success and stress, between efficiency and chaos. Employees should always have goals that help them become better. However, they should also have a set of goals specifically to help them better manage their time.
For an employee who wants to make their jobs easier, setting time management goals is a great place to start. Not only that, leaders who want to get the most out of their employees while making their work more manageable should also encourage and help their employees set time management goals
Effective time management is a skill we can all develop. Regardless of your job title, effective time management can help you balance your responsibilities, perform your jobs effectively, and even enjoy your job more. But what goals should employees be setting? In this article, we’ll give you some examples of some time management goals for employees that will help them get more done, reduce their stress levels, and improve their overall performance.
1. Improve Productivity by 20% By Eliminating Distractions
Distractions can steal our focus away from our top priorities. What kind of distractions pop up in your day?
Excessive distractions – even small ones- chip away at productivity. Distractions like phone calls, emails, or text messages that aren’t work-related are common culprits. So, if your team members are using company software to do their shopping or to regularly make calls that aren’t for a work purpose, make it known that going forward, company equipment will only be for work communications.
Meetings can also become a distraction, despite good intentions. Although they can sometimes be essential, it’s important to give careful consideration as to when they’re timed. This is especially important if your team is experiencing a series of tough deadlines. Or, if your team is understaffed, curbing the amount of meetings can help them gain back time to tackle their work and make some productivity gains.
Consider designating no-meeting days or no-meeting times. For example, every Wednesday or every Thursday could be a “no meeting day.” Or, if lots of meetings are a must for your department, perhaps Thursday morning could be a “meeting-free” time. This can free up employees to make progress on other pressing projects.
2. Spend 20% Less Time Answering Emails
“Did you get my email?”
Reading and responding to emails can be a major time vacuum. On average, American professionals spend 28% of their workday responding to emails according to a McKinsey analysis. That equates to about 2.6 hours per day. Staying tuned in to your digital mailbox can make it harder to stay focused on the work that requires your biggest efforts.
So, how can you regain your time and spend less of it on email?
Setting one daily, reserved block of time to deal with your email is a great start. This can help you avoid the feeling of wondering “Where was I?” when you alternate between email and other work. Dealing with email all in one sitting can also help you delete irrelevant messages faster. It can also help you to respond more thoughtfully to your most important messages.
Another tip is to carefully decide if email is truly the best way to deal with something. Have you ever been part of an email chain between several people that started with 1 message, and then quickly became a series of 25 messages? This can happen when several people are trying to solve a problem. But, in cases like this, email is not always the right method. Having a phone call or a meeting is sometimes much more efficient.
3. Meet Deadlines 10% Earlier
According to one Project Management Institute report, nearly 50% of all projects are not finished within their scheduled time. This is not only bad for the customer, it is bad for the people running each project and the company’s reputation. Missing deadlines can be reflective of poor time management. Meeting deadlines shows that consciousness. So, if you’re already able to meet your deadlines, would it be possible to meet those deadlines even sooner?
In some settings, simply meeting a deadline takes collaboration across several teams and departments. So, you’ll want to determine if this is a realistic goal or not. However, if this is an individual project, you’ll want to determine if it’s possible to achieve any deadlines faster.
4. Become More Organized
Organization is the cornerstone of effective time management. A cluttered workspace or a chaotic to-do list can be detrimental to productivity. For employees, becoming more organized isn’t just about keeping a tidy desk; it involves organizing tasks and streamlining workflows. Use project management software to list tasks, assign deadlines, and track progress. Tools like Trello, Asana, or Monday.com can help teams visualize tasks and responsibilities, making it easier to stay organized.
Employees should also be encouraged to declutter both their physical and digital workspaces regularly. For instance, maintaining a clear inbox and properly organizing digital files in folders can significantly speed up information retrieval.
In your physical space, make sure you have a clean work area. Try not to keep loose papers, post-it notes, or any other distracting items around. Build the habit of filing things as soon as you’re able and discarding unnecessary papers, forms, and anything else you no longer need.
Being more organized will help employees perform better and possibly reduce stress. Staying organized may actually help lower your cortisol levels which is the body’s primary stress hormone. The key is to integrate these habits into daily routines, so they become second nature.
5. Spend Less Time Correcting Mistakes
To err is human, so we all make mistakes. And, these mistakes can become learning opportunities. When you find out the reason behind your mistake, you can prevent it from happening again. Sometimes you can even take a lesson from it, becoming an even better-educated professional. You might even be able to share your wisdom with others.
However, an excessive amount of mistakes can indicate a lack of skill or even a poor job fit. Too many mistakes could indicate rushing through a job and not paying enough attention to the details.
Too much time correcting mistakes can interfere with productivity and take time away from other projects.
6. Complete Required Work Within Working Hours
Constantly working more than what is reasonable can sometimes be indicative of a problem. That’s why a beneficial goal for employees is to be able to complete their required work during working hours.
On the other hand, working an excessive amount can be the result of poor time management. One survey found that 52% of U.S. workers work more than 40 hours a week. The same study found 39% work at least 50 hours a week, and 18% work at least 60. While this does include overtime hours worked, many are working longer just to complete the work they’re required to finish during a regular 40-hour work week.
People who love their jobs may have no issues with working nights and weekends. However, it takes a good amount of self-awareness to know if this isn’t crossing the line into burnout. If a job should only take 8 hours, but an employee is always working 12 hours, it’s worth looking into.
7. Becoming Better at Asking for Assistance from Management and Team
One often overlooked aspect of effective time management in the workplace is the skill of asking for help when needed. Many employees hesitate to ask for assistance. This is either because they fear appearing incompetent or because they underestimate the complexity of their tasks. However, being overly self-reliant can lead to unnecessary stress, delays, and even burnout. Learning to ask for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a strategic move that can enhance productivity.
Management can often provide valuable resources or delegate tasks to other team members to facilitate a more efficient work process. This cannot happen unless employees recognize when they need help and can express that need to their team and managers.
But how do you ask for help effectively? Being clear and specific about what you need assistance with, why you need it, and what kind of help you’re looking for makes it easier for someone to step in. Frame your request in a way that aligns with team goals and project outcomes to underscore the importance of the help you’re seeking.
When employees are able to ask for help when needed, it prevents them from being overwhelmed. It also increases the chances of the work being done on time.
8. Minimize Unnecessary Multi-Tasking
Multitasking often seems like the go-to strategy for getting more done in less time. However, multitasking can hinder productivity and lead to more mistakes. When employees switch rapidly between tasks, they can experience “context switching” penalties that impair cognitive function and focus. Also, multitasking can result in lower-quality work. This is because the brain can’t fully invest in multiple complex activities all at the same time.
A better approach is to prioritize tasks and tackle them sequentially. Encourage employees to use techniques like the Pomodoro Technique or time-blocking to focus on a single task for a defined period before moving on to the next. We know that sometimes multitasking is unavoidable.
If it has to be done, aim to combine tasks that require different cognitive resources. For example, listening to an educational podcast while sorting through emails may be less taxing than trying to write a report while on a conference call.
Minimizing multi-tasking should be a goal for new employees as well as seasoned ones. This habit can dramatically change the way an employee works and how they feel about their job.
So what can a manager do?
Give employees feedback about when they should try to figure things out on their own and when they should ask for help. What would be some clear indicators that trying to figure it out on their own isn’t working? What would be some “red flags” that going at it alone won’t work out? Don’t leave new employees to sink or swim – give them indicators for when they should ask for help.
In the quest for productivity, time management is key. Deciding what’s most important on your to-do list, and planning your day accordingly, can help you tune out distractions and manage your time.