Business leaders know there is no resource more precious than time. However, staying on top of a loaded schedule can be tough for even the most seasoned executive or project manager. Passing on smart strategies for how to schedule your day to employees at every level of the organization is an even bigger challenge.
Positioning a business for success calls for leaders and employees to think about how each day's work can be directed to move toward long-term goals. That means making clear to everyone how they contribute to those objectives and then showing respect for individual responsibilities by cutting down on time wasters like unnecessary meetings. With the right tools and a workplace culture built around valuing every employee's contributions, the entire organization can manage its time smarter.
The Battle for Employee Focus
Keeping workers actively engaged in tasks that move the business forward can easily lead to overloading them. For this reason, it's essential to maintain open lines of communication between employees and supervisors. Leaders must understand the pain points interfering with worker productivity and offer the support necessary to keep them on task through the work day.
Traditional time management strategies, such as making a simple to-do list or hiding out in a conference room to knock out several items on that list, don't take into account either the powerful tools or the constant distractions that come with today's technology and open-plan office spaces. Workers have so many demands on their attention, from multiple ongoing responsibilities to incoming requests from coworkers and supervisors. It's easy to become overwhelmed when switching between several different roles, and a simple list is just not good enough for tracking developments across multiple active projects.
Below are five major ways that employees are distracted. And this happens once every 11 minutes:
Creating Your Time Management Worksheet
The solution, of course, is better time management. When employees complete a time management worksheet, they sit down and seriously reflect on how they are currently spending their hours. From there, in collaboration with leadership and fellow teammates, they establish priorities and break projects down into manageable chunks. With a time management calculator, they gain the perspective to realize it sometimes might be best to let go of responding to emails for a few hours and concentrate on more pressing concerns. This process can also point to areas where workers would benefit from further training, so jobs are split up more efficiently and fairly.
A few tips on filling out a time management calendar:
- 1. Choose a tool you know: There are many calendar tools available, both online and offline. Choose one you already use regularly so you don't have to build a new habit.
- 2. Deep work: Block out uninterrupted time for deep work and block this out first. Make sure it shows up in your calendar as "busy" so colleagues know not to interrupt you. Also, make sure it coincides with your peak energy/focus levels during the day.
- 3. Take breaks: Make sure you build in time for lunch breaks and whatever leisure breaks you need to keep going.
- 4. Reactive work, too: Don't forget to schedule reactive work as well: this may include responding to email, chats, phone calls, and so on.
- 5. Stay general on the calendar: Just a word of caution: don't get too granular in your calendar, i.e. don't put the names of actual tasks you need to get done. Instead, be more general with your buckets so you can have a more flexible schedule. This way, when a block of "Deep work" appears, you know it's time to get going with one of the tasks you've already marked in your work management tool as high priority.
Prioritizing Tasks with a Time Management Calendar
Smarter scheduling starts at the top by setting up calendar management for executive assistants. However, software solutions offer teams throughout the organization opportunities to get the plans for each day, week, and month in order. Instead of issuing blanket policies about scheduling, leaders accomplish more by providing the resources to plan and track each day's work.
Using a time management calendar template makes it possible to assign responsibilities more intelligently in several ways:
- A printable time management calendar that is exportable to Excel or PDF gives everyone a chance to benefit from time management techniques. Submitting these calendars to supervisors gives them insight into how employees are spending their days.
- Leadership can hold employees accountable for fulfilling their duties while avoiding any direct conflicts and not overburdening any individual.
- For workers, time management applications assist them in going beyond listing tasks to thoughtfully setting priorities for their various roles and projects.
By leveraging software tools designed to get more done, like the Timeline features in Wrike's project management solution, the connections between short-term needs and the larger mission come into focus. With regular updates and the ability to shift gears when they need to, all workers accomplish more. Individuals and organizations are primed to move forward with purpose by making daily and long-term scheduling a seamless and transparent part of everyone's job.