Time management is the key to working efficiently and making the best use of your resources. However, most employees want to improve on it, according to a survey by Salary.com. Apparently, 89% of respondents inadvertently waste time at work every day.
While mobile phone calls and frequent emails are cited as the main distractions, there are other reasons why employees fail to manage their time effectively.
Reasons for poor time management
Poor planning skills are a contributing factor. While everyone is busy, some seem to work more efficiently. Those who have honed their planning skills can boost their productivity.
Failing to establish clear goals and set achievable priorities is one of the main reasons for time management problems: failure to plan ahead and evaluate the pending workload leaves you rushing to complete tasks.
If you have underestimated the time needed to complete your daily workload, you’ll lapse further behind every day, so by the end of the week, you may feel you have an insurmountable task ahead. This leads to a lack of motivation and a feeling you’re overworked and can’t cope.
Employees with low motivation are less productive, and they might frequently be late, which makes the problems worse. Research published in April 2023 by Acuity Training revealed one-fifth of UK employees were late for work regularly, with 18% of tardy workers blaming “personal problems” and 15% saying they “overslept”. Some people have factors outside of the workplace affecting their time management, with 12% having problems relating to their children and 12% citing “family issues”.
The same people are also likely to be late for meetings, as they tend to be rushing to finish projects before heading off. Some employees don’t feel guilty about being late to meetings, arguing they shouldn’t be penalised when they’re putting in the hours anyway to complete work.
Can coworking help with time management?
The advantages of coworking include being able to work more flexible hours. While it may sound like a cliché, “Work smarter, not harder,” can be good advice.
We’ve all been in a situation where there’s a lot of work to get through. It can be disheartening feeling like you won’t get a break all day. However, it can actually decrease productivity if you work right through without any screen breaks.
Even taking a five-minute break, going for a short walk, or having a cup of tea uninterrupted, can revitalise you. This can help clear your head and enable you to work more productively when you return.
The flexibility of a coworking space can help with your time management, because if you start flagging, you can simply leave your desk and take a break whenever the need arises. It can be far more difficult to do this in a corporate environment, where you may feel more under scrutiny from colleagues and managers if you leave your desk.
Encourage everyone on your team to take time out too. It will create more positivity and boost morale.
Many coworking spaces are located in areas where there’s plenty to do outside the office. For example, our coworking space in Farringdon is within easy access of coffee shops, places to have an affordable lunch and shops.
If you’re considering coworking in London, Farringdon is an underrated nook in the busy city that might be just what you’re looking for. Taking even 20 minutes out of the office when you need a change of scenery can energise you and potentially inspire you to work faster on your return.
If you have a lot of work on one day, but not as much the next, you can adjust your working hours accordingly by staying later on a particularly busy day and rewarding yourself with an early finish the next! Like the sound of that?
Being successful at time management is something that can be challenging to achieve, especially for someone who feels demotivated and snowed under with work.
1. Set reminders
The key to good time management is to know exactly what you have to do – especially the deadlines. Setting a reminder for 15 minutes before an event or meeting gives you time to prepare and gather whatever you need to make it a success.
2. Use a daily planner
Create a daily planner of the tasks you need to complete on a day-to-day basis. Make a note of changes to your schedule, deadlines and upcoming meetings as soon as you’re aware of them. As you work through your list, tick off the tasks you’ve completed and flag up the next most urgent.
3. Set yourself time limits
Give each task a time limit, based on how long you think it’s going to take. Set realistic time limits, so you won’t feel like you’re always behind. When the allotted time ends, stop what you’re doing and move onto the next task, even if you haven’t finished. Go back to it later – you may work faster when you have a fresh start and clearer mind!
4. Block all distractions
Email notifications can be one of the biggest distractions. Businesspeople check their email, on average, 15 times a day, equating to every 37 minutes. Some look every 15 minutes! This is unnecessary, as a study by Harvard Business School shows only 8% of colleagues and 11% of clients expect a response in less than an hour – experts suggest checking every two hours on a busy day. Always minimise non-work distractions, including notifications on your mobile phone and social media feeds.
5. Establish a routine
Establish a workplace routine that is sensible and feasible. Try to stick to it, so that even on a hectic day, you have some structure in place. This is far better for your mental health and stress levels than worrying about how much you have to do and flitting from task to task.
Should you rely on software for time keeping?
Some managers have advanced time tracking software installed to gain an insight into employees’ working hours and the overall efficiency of the company.
This enables them to have an unbiased view of teams’ progress on specific tasks and general performance. It affords quicker response times when addressing areas of improvement and permits individuals to self-assess their own performance.
The resulting real-time feedback is invaluable for determining whether operational changes need to be made immediately to meet deadlines. This contributes to the business’s overall success by enabling it to adapt to changes quickly and set a precedent for future projects.
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