Cultivate a Productive Workplace with Time Management Training.
As CTM's Courseware Developer, Maria Myers identifies the needs of trainers and designs/creates training and development programs accordingly. In this week's blog post, she gives us her quick guide to time management in the workplace.
A recent survey by Development Academy found that 82% of people don’t have a Time Management system.
The numbers are staggering when you consider the benefits. Good time management gives us improved quality of work, better confidence, reduced stress, and increases the possibility of advancing our career prospects. So it’s no wonder it is a top priority soft skill.
The practice of time management requires focus and conscious planning to help win back control of your busy day, and conquer goals. Challenges are often presented in the workplace, which can affect our ability to make optimal use of our time. However, with the help of prioritization, goal-setting, and appropriate organization of the mind and space around us, we are able to overcome time management barriers.
Time Management Training will equip your trainees with appropriate strategies to increase both personal and professional productivity, as well as learn to work smarter. Exceptional time management skills have a powerful effect on shaping an organized, successful business.
Below is our quick guide on Time Management in the workplace.
Discovering Your Productivity Rhythm
Discovering your personal productivity rhythm has a powerful effect on how you can maximize your daily workload, and improve your overall time management. Your productivity rhythm will measure how, when and where you are most productive, and you can use these cycles to your advantage for making the most of your time.
Determining your peaks in levels of energy and focus will allow you to make better choices throughout your busy work day, as well as keep you on track. In order to effectively find your productivity rhythm, it is first important to take the time to invest in yourself and your current habits.
Energy levels fluctuate throughout the span of a work day. It is highly beneficial to prioritize your tasks based on these energy levels. These patterns are connected to the ability to use brain power, and think clearly. The terms “morning people” and “night owls” are often used to describe one’s most productive hours. Patterns of energy levels will differ for each individual based on various factors, including diet, sleep, or emotional stress. Once you determine your peak performance times, you can better schedule your daily tasks.
It is important to match the work that is of highest priority to your peak performance times, including those tasks that require critical thinking or problem solving. Likewise, you can assign your lesser complex tasks for the hours that you know you will be less engaged or focused. Knowing your energy will allow you to set the stage for how you perform your daily tasks, and seek better results.
Organizing Your Tasks
Time batching is a great productivity system to improve focus and build structure into your daily tasks. Different from multitasking, this approach involves grouping similar tasks together, and organizing dedicated time periods to complete these tasks without interruptions. Time batching will provide concentration without breaking your workflow, and will eliminate multitasking.
The practice of time batching is advantageous for everyone- whether you have difficulty focusing on a task, have many disturbances in your workplace, become easily distracted, or are just simply looking to have a productive day.
Time batching is a simple process to implement. To begin, start by establishing your to-do list. With this list, determine which tasks are related to one another and ‘batch’ them together on your schedule. Think about which tasks would be realistic to do right after another. It is important to remember that the time frames for these tasks should be realistic, and if necessary, longer projects can be divided into separate batching groups, to allow for renewal breaks or fresh air.
Large projects can sometimes be so overwhelming it is difficult to plan to start them. The Chunk, Block, and Tackle time management technique is ideal for taking on these jobs. Simply break down the project into manageable chunks, block off time to work on the project, and then tackle it with a single-minded focus.
- Chunk: Break large projects into specific tasks that can be completed in less than 15 minutes.
- Block: Rather than scheduling the entire project all at once, block out set times to complete specific chunks as early in the day as possible. This should allow you to ignore most interruptions and focus on just this task.
- Tackle: Now tackle the specific task, focusing only on this task rather than the project as a whole. Once completed, you will feel a sense of accomplishment from making progress on the project.
Maintaining Work/Life Balance
The most productive individuals are those who are well-balanced. Work-life balance includes prioritizing the demands in one’s personal life at home, as well as the demands in the workplace. This does not mean an equal balance of time between work and home, but rather prioritizing what is important during that time. Work time should be dedicated to tasks that are essential for your career, whereas home time should be dedicated to family time, or personal time.
The ability to say no is a powerful time management tool. At times, requests from others may be important and need immediate attention. Often, however, these requests conflict with our values and take time away from working toward your goals. Even if it is something we would like to do but simply do not have the time for, it can be very difficult to say no. One approach in dealing with these types of interruptions is to use a Positive No, which comes in several forms.
- Say no, followed by an honest explanation, such as, “I am uncomfortable doing that because…”
- Say no and then briefly clarify your reasoning without making excuses. This helps the listener to better understand your position. Example: “I can’t right now because I have another project that is due by 5 pm today.”
- Say no, and then give an alternative. Example: “I don’t have time today, but I could schedule it in for tomorrow morning.”
- Empathetically repeat the request in your own words, and then say no. Example: “I understand that you need to have this paperwork filed immediately, but I will not be able to file it for you.”
- Say yes, give your reasoning for not doing it, and provide an alternative solution. Example: “Yes, I would love to help you by filing this paperwork, but I do not have time until tomorrow morning.”
- Provide an assertive refusal and repeat it no matter what the person says. This approach may be most appropriate with aggressive or manipulative people and can be an effective strategy to control your emotions. Example: “I understand how you feel, but I will not [or cannot] …” Remember to stay focused and not become sidetracked into responding to other issues.
Be respectful of your time. Poor work-life balance will often lead to working longer hours, increased responsibilities, and a greater chance of experiencing burnout. This can be as simple as taking regular breaks throughout your day.
Creating a Productive Work Environment
To be most productive, you need to establish a positive working environment that is conducive to getting your work done. This means eliminating any external workplace distractions that promote procrastination.
Simply put, procrastination will feed off of distractions. Many distractions can occur in a work environment that can be damaging to our daily schedules. Although workplace distractions are inevitable, there are ways to optimize your workspace that will reduce the effect of distractions.
The following are examples of common workplace distractions, as well as solutions to regain focus.
- Office noise: If possible, it is best to shut your door to keep out office noise. An alternative to this is to wear headphones with white noise or personal music.
- Talkative coworkers & gossiping: Avoid partaking in workplace gossip. Wearing headphones is a great signal that you are not up for a conversation. Try having a conversation with your coworkers about how these conversations affect your work.
- Smartphones: Put your phone on a ‘do not disturb’ mode, or place your phone elsewhere.
- Social media: Make it inaccessible by website blockers.
- Email: Designate certain times to respond to your email
- Hunger: Be sure to always have healthy snack options at hand.
Workflow management is essential for optimizing and bringing order to a project. It ensures a structured set of activities, and control over the flow of the work in front of you. Workplace management highlights focusing on one task at a time. Many time management experts agree that the most effective people act on an item the first time it is touched.
Are you ready to boost your trainee’s productivity? The key is Time Management training! Get started today with our newly updated Time Management Workshop.
How do you manage your time in the workplace? Let us know in the comments below!
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