Time management in the workplace
How to reduce your work overload
Time management in the workplace -
Overworked and overwhelmed and maybe under paid. Time Management at work is becoming more critical everyday because so many people feel one or all of these. It seems people are expected to do more, get better results, but have less resources and budgets. And somehow we are meant to have some work-life balance.
We have found most people can significantly improve their Time management in the workplace . The same core principles apply to getting control of time regardless of whether you are at work or for life in general (check out our Time Management Skills Page for the 4 core skills). There are though some very specific aspects to Time management in the workplace that can make your life less overwhelming and more fulfilling.
There are many aspects to getting control of your time management in the workplace. We will start here with five key strategies that have had the biggest impact for our clients. These are:
More time management tools for helping you get control of your time at work are at the end of this page. Check out how to avoid job burnout and improve time management at work.
1. Agree on and document with your manager your performance measures and targets.
Most people don't think about this approach when trying to improve their time management in the workplace. We have found it to have THE BIGGEST impact on getting control of your time. It seems that most people don't really know what's expected of them at work.
One of the reasons people are not clear about what their performance is measured on is because most of the time the managers don't know either. BUT, be ware -- your manager is always assessing your performance, consciously and subconsciously.
When you are not clear about what is important and what you will be measured on everything seems important -- so you feel you have to do everything. When everything HAS to be done, then you get in a state of overworked, overwhelm.
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2. Decide what key activities will get you to these targets and do them
The second strategy for improving your time management in the workplace flow from the first.
As soon as you are clear about what you will be measured on, then you need to know what activities will enable you to reach your targets.
Review to-do list. Decide which tasks are directly related to achieving your targets. Decide which ones are indirectly related and give them a strength rating out of 10 (where 10 means this task has a high impact on you achieving your targets, and 1 is a very low impact). Now, everyday make sure that you spend the majority of your day on the tasks that help you achieve your targets.
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3. Say NO to tasks that have little impact on your targets.
This is a major reason why people have poor time management in the workplace (and maybe at home too!). The inability to say NO. It is very rare to find people with the ability to politely and firmly say NO. There are many valid reasons for people not wanting to say NO. Unfortunately, saying yes all the time leads to poor time management at work and more work and more stress.
In our coaching programs we "peel back the layers" to help you get really clear about what stops you from saying NO. We have found there are usually underlying beliefs that stop people from saying no. To consistently say no you need to find out what's stopping you.
A good way to start saying NO immediately is to say no without actually saying the word no! Create one or two responses that you learn word for word and use them when you want to say. Some examples are:
"Unfotunately with the other important projects I have on I would not be able to get that done on time"
"I wouldn't be able to start that for 2 weeks, is that OK?"
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4. Reduce the time taken by interruptions
Interruptions have a massive impact on your time management in the workplace. Lots of people I talk to would like to get rid of all interruptions. But they can't because interruptions are a fact of working life. Especially if you are a manager. And even more so if you are in customer service. So what should you do about interruptions?
To improve your time management in the workplace allow for interruptions. You are going to get interrupted so allow time for it. The key point here is that when you allow time for interruptions you don't feel so negative about them.
OK, so this is a way to help you deal with interruptions, but not necessarily reduce the time taken-up by interruptions. Here's how you can reduce the time you spend on interruptions.
Plan in your Time Management System a block of time each day where you are not to be interrupted. Ideally go to a location where you can't be easily seen for this block of time. Let everyone in your team know you are not to be interrupted unless there is an emergency.
Ask questions when you are interrupted. Ask how important this is on a scale of 1 to 10. Have they spoken to anyone else about this? What solutions and actions have they come up with?
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5. Get really clear about what is the next action
This approach to time management at work is based on one of the key concepts from David Allen's book, Getting Things Done (GTD).
Most "to do lists" have things like "train the sales team", "get team to time management workshop". Or "Health" or "Business Plan". This technique to improve your time management in the workplace is about you deciding what is the next action and where will I record it in my planning system.
Keep it simple. For each task, email or voicemail decide what is the next action. Put it in your system. When it's time to work on the project you get started quickly because you know exactly what to do.
These techniques for improving time management in the workplace have proven beneficial for our clients and I am sure that they can help you too. Different people get different results from the various techniques. Start with the one the seems to make the most sense to you. We also recommend that you work to develop your own time management system.
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Time Management Resources
Lots more time management tools to save you stress and time at work
Job Burnout -- How to avoid getting burnt out at work.
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Time Management Forms -- Download forms that will help you save you time.
Time Management Central - Promoting the importance of time management