Time-Management Techniques to Start the Year Off Right

January 25, 2019

Good time management can mean getting your work done more efficiently and quickly, while bad time management can mean an entire day goes wasted on jumping between projects and distractions. In a recent partner webinar with BizLibrary, we discussed how you can implement better time-management techniques not only for yourself, but also for your entire organization. Cassie Whitlock, Director of HR at BambooHR, and Erin Boettge, Content Marketing Manager at BizLibrary, were our webinar experts lending their know-how to help you start the year off productively.

While you don’t instantly think of company time management as a number one task for HR, Cassie says, “When you step back and consider it, so many parts of HR’s mission are designated to enable effective time management…HR’s decisions determine whether or not your organization’s employees can focus on what is essential for your organization’s success.”

How can you limit distractions?

Do you constantly have people tapping you on the shoulder or email notifications appearing in the corner of your screen every few minutes? Or maybe, like us, you have both. Well, according to a study out of the University of California Irvine, these small distractions could be seriously affecting your productivity. Researchers found that it can take up to 23 minutes to refocus after an interruption. And the more emotionally charged an interruption, the longer it takes to refocus. Try a few of these easy ways to minimize your distractions:

  • Limit open browser tabs to only the ones you are currently using
  • Turn off email and message notifications
  • Keep your phone in your desk drawer
  • Plan set times for checking email—e.g. first thing in the morning and after lunch

Did you know the average person checks their phone 52 times a day? “What’s worse, only four or five of those 52 mini-interruptions contains an important piece of information.” Keeping your phone out of sight can help rid yourself of the temptation to constantly check your phone.

What are good time-management strategies?

Good time-management strategies benefit from well-defined company values. The most effective values define how you’re going to realize your vision with both aspirations and limitations. When you have clearly outlined values, employees and the company as a whole should be able to strategize how they use their time by asking, “How are my actions supporting our values?”

At BambooHR, two of our values that reinforce self-improvement and productivity are: Make it Count and Grow from Good to Great. As you develop values for your company, consider the following:

Step back and examine your mission.

What is your company’s purpose beyond just making money? At BambooHR, our founders wanted to create a great place to work and wanted to extend that to other workplaces by building effective and strategic HR software.

Develop a vision.

Set concrete goals that tie into your mission. As your company finds success, you should be able to define attributes and actions that helped lead to that success.

Set goals.

As you set goals, be realistic. Failing to recognize limitations can lead to an overall strategy that demands more from employees than they have time to give. Overextending employees leaves them two choices: appear uncommitted or put life into their background tabs.

How do you manage time effectively at work?

If the phrase “overextending employees” just resonated with you, you might need to manage your time at the office more effectively. A few quick changes to your routine can make a big difference in productivity. Here are some ways you can better manage your time at work.

Plan ahead.

On your drive into work or as soon as you get there, take a few minutes to plan your day. Figure out what to expect for the day, what you need to get done, and what can wait until tomorrow. This helps you avoid the “what should I do next?” decision dilemma and gives your day a sense of purpose.

Coordinate meetings.

When you set a meeting, establish a clear purpose and communicate that purpose to the other attendees. It can also help to create an agenda for the meeting that you send out to everyone beforehand. As you set your agenda, be sure to factor in time for communication and feedback. Cassie added that she likes to designate someone else in the meeting to keep everyone on track. If she or someone else in the meeting takes the discussion too far away from the meeting’s purpose, the designated watchdog can steer things back to the agenda.

Control emails.

Schedule specific times throughout the day to check your inbox so you aren’t constantly distracted by new tasks. The best time to check email is when you are transitioning from one project to the next. When it isn’t email time, shut down your email window so you can’t be distracted, and at an organizational level, try to keep mass emails to a minimum. Of course, some company-wide emails are both necessary and important, but employees should be discouraged from sending emails to everyone in the organization without approval.

Embrace breaks.

Even taking breaks is important for managing time wisely. Try to include breaks in your day that give you both a mental and physical break, like taking a moment to stand up and stretch or walking around outside for 10 minutes between projects.

Learning how to effectively manage your time is about staying focused on what you’ve decided and pushing forward to get the results you want. “We have to develop tactics and strategies that will create a framework for decision-making that we can use to make smarter choices about how we use our time,” says Erin. “That requires us to adjust some behaviors and attitudes about what we do, not just at the individual level but also at the organizational level.”

Try implementing a few of the above time-management techniques (or some of these other ones) at your company or as an individual. You might find yourself getting a lot more checked off your to-do list!

Danielle Cronquist
Copywriter

Danielle Cronquist is a copywriter for BambooHR. She writes content that gives people the tools and knowledge they need to do great work and create great places to work.