Tag: Time Management

Help Your Team Manage Their Workspace for Better Time Management

Help Your Team Manage Their Workspace for Better Time Management

In order for your team to effectively manage their time and to be productive each day, they must create the appropriate environment. By eliminating clutter, setting up an effective filing system, gathering essential tools, and managing workflow, your team will be well on their way to creating an effective workspace.

Related: Time Management Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Declutter The Workspace

Removing clutter is itself a time-consuming task, but a cluttered workspace significantly impairs the team’s ability to find things, and they will get the time back that they invest – and more! To retrieve materials quickly, the team will need an effective filing system that includes three basic kinds of files:

Working files: Materials used frequently and needed close at hand.

Reference files: Information needed only occasionally.

Archival files: Materials seldom retrieved, but that must be kept. For ease of retrieval, organize files in the simplest way possible. For example, the team could label files with a one or two word tag and arrange the files alphabetically.

Once clutter has been eliminated and other materials have been filed, the effective workspace includes only what is essential: a set of three trays to control the workflow on their desks, standard office supplies, a computer, and a telephone. Everything else, except for what they are working on at the moment, can and should be filed where it can be retrieved as needed.

Managing Workflow

How do you process the mountain of material that collects in your paper and electronic in-baskets? The answer is one piece of paper, one electronic message at a time. Many time management experts agree that the most effective people act on an item the first time it is touched.

Although difficult at first, the practice can become habitual, and is made easier with the four Ds:

DO: If a task can be completed in two minutes or less, do it immediately.

DELETE: If the material is trash or junk, delete it. Or, if it’s something that you might use later on, file it, and move on.

DEFER: If the task is one that can’t be completed quickly and is not a high priority item, simply defer it.

DELEGATE: If a task is not yours to do, then delegate it.

Remember, to take the S.T.I.N.G. out of feeling overwhelmed about a task, follow these steps:

Select one task to do at a time.

Time yourself using a clock for no more than one hour.

Ignore everything else during that time.

No breaks or interruptions should be permitted.

Give yourself a reward when the time is up.

Dealing with E-mail

Electronic communication can be managed just as easily and as quickly as paper with the four D’s that we just discussed. However, there are some other key ideas that will help your team maximize their e-mail time.

Like other routine tasks (such as returning phone calls, handling paper mail, and checking voice mail), e-mail is best handled in batches at regularly scheduled times of the day.

Ask your e-mail contacts to use specific subject lines, and make sure to use them yourself. This will help you to determine whether your incoming mail is business or personal, urgent or trivial.

Once you know the subject of the message, open and read urgent e-mails, and respond accordingly. Non-urgent e-mails, like jokes, can be read later. Delete advertising-related e-mail that you have no interest in, or which you consider spam.

Use your e-mail system to its fullest potential. Create folders for different topics or projects, or by senders. Most e-mail systems also allow you to create folders and add keywords or categories to messages, which makes information retrieval much easier.

Many e-mail programs allow you to create rules that automatically move messages to the appropriate folder. This can help you follow your e-mail plan.

Finally, don’t forget to delete e-mail from your trash can and junk folder on a regular basis.

Using Calendars

To manage all of the things that they have to do, it’s important that the team organize their reminders into a small number of calendars and lists that can be reviewed regularly. A calendar (paper or electronic) is the obvious place to record meetings, appointments, and due dates.

For people with multiple responsibilities, an annual calendar organized by areas of responsibility (e.g., budget, personnel, schedule, planning, and miscellaneous) may be especially valuable. For each of these areas, one can list the major responsibilities month by month and thereby see at a glance what tasks must be completed in a given month of the year.

 

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Help Your Team to Plan Wisely

Help Your Team to Plan Wisely

The hallmark of successful time management is being consistently productive each day. Many people use a daily plan to motivate themselves. Having a daily plan and committing to it can help your team stay focused on the priorities of that particular day. They are also more likely to get things accomplished if they write down their plans for the day.

Related: Time Management Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Creating a Productivity Journal

Essentially, planning is nothing more than taking a piece of paper and a pen and writing down the tasks and associated steps that the team needs to take throughout the day to ensure that the goal is completed.

To start, get a spiral notebook and label it as the Team Productivity Journal.  Label each page with the day and the date and what needs to be done that particular day. Next, prioritize each task in order of importance. Highlight the top three items and focus on those first. Cross off items as the team completes them. Items that are not completed should be carried over to the next page.

Maximizing the Power of the Team Productivity Journal

By planning the afternoon before, the team will start fresh and focused on the most important tasks for the day. Of course, the team will want to review their list in the morning, but they will have a head start on the day.

The team should keep the productivity journal with them during the day to avoid becoming sidetracked. Crossing off completed tasks will give their subconscious mind a tremendous amount of satisfaction. This will also help to maintain their motivation to complete the remaining items on the action list.

If the team  finds that are moving uncompleted tasks over into the following day, and the day after that, then they need to ask themselves why that task is on the list in the first place and what value it has for the team. If they postpone a task three times, it does not belong on the action list.

The Glass Jar: Rocks, Pebbles, Sand, and Water

There is a story about time management that uses a glass jar, rocks, stones, pebbles, sand, and water to illustrate how to plan your day. The glass jar represents the time the team has each day, and each item that goes into it represents an activity with a priority relative to its size.

Rocks: The general idea is to fill the glass jar first with rocks. Plan each day around the most important tasks that will propel the team toward achieving their goals. These represent the team’s  highest priority projects and deadlines with the greatest value, often important, but not urgent tasks that move the team toward their goals.

Pebbles: Next, fill in the space between the rocks with pebbles. These represent tasks that are urgent, and important, but contribute less to important goals. Without proper planning, these tasks are often unexpected, and left unmanaged, can quickly fill the day. Working to reduce these tasks will give the team more time to work toward their goals.

Sand: Now add sand to fill the jar. In other words, schedule urgent, but not important tasks, only after important tasks. These activities are usually routine or maintenance tasks that do not directly contribute to the team goals.

Water: Finally, pour water into your jar. These trivial time-wasters are neither important nor urgent and take you away from working toward high return activities and  goals.

If the team commits to this approach to planning their days, they will see as time goes on that they are able to achieve more in less time. Instead of finishing things in a mad rush to meet deadlines, each day will be organized and become more productive and profitable. They will also notice that they are spending less time on activities that are of little to no value. And because they have a clear vision for dealing with competing priorities, the level of stress in the team will diminish, which will allow them to become even more focused and productive.

 

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Delegating For Team Leaders Made Easy

Delegating For Team Leaders Made Easy

“You can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility.” –  Byron Dorgan

If you work on your own, there’s only so much you can get done, no matter how hard you work. One of the most common ways of overcoming this limitation is to learn how to delegate your work to your team members. If you do this well, you can quickly build a strong and successful team of people.

At first sight, delegation can feel like more hassle than it’s worth. However, by delegating effectively, you can hugely expand the amount of work that you can deliver. When you arrange the workload so that you are working on the tasks that have the highest priority for you, and other people are working on meaningful and challenging assignments, you have a recipe for success.

Remember, to delegate effectively, choose the right tasks to delegate, identify the right team members to delegate to, and delegate in the right way.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

When to Delegate

Delegation allows you to make the best use of your time and skills, and it helps other people in the team grow and develop to reach their full potential in the organization. Delegation is a win-win situation for all involved, but only when done correctly. Keep these criteria in mind when deciding if a task should be delegated to your team:

  • The task should provide an opportunity for growth of the team member’s skills.
  • Weigh the effort to properly train the team member against how often the task will reoccur.
  • Delegating certain critical tasks may jeopardize the success of the team’s project.
  • Management tasks, such as performance reviews, and tasks specifically assigned to you should not be delegated.

Related: Time Management Outcome Based Team Building Activities

To Whom Should You Delegate?

Once you have decided to delegate a task to a team member, think about the possible candidates for accepting the task. Things to think about include:

  • What experience, knowledge, skills, and attitude does the team member already have?
  • What training or assistance might they need?
  • Do you have the time and resources to provide any training needed?
  • What is the team member’s preferred work style? Do they do well on their own or do they require more support and motivation? How independent are they?
  • What does he or she want from his or her job?
  • What are his or her long-term goals and interest, and how do these align with the work proposed?
  • What is the current workload of this this team member? Does the person have time to take on more work?
  • Will you delegating this task require reshuffling of other responsibilities and workloads?

When you first start to delegate to someone, you may notice that he or she takes longer than you do to complete tasks. This is because you are an expert in the field and the person you have delegated to is still learning. Be patient: if you have chosen the right person to delegate to, and you are delegating correctly, you will find that he or she quickly becomes competent and reliable. Also, try to delegate to the lowest possible organizational level. The people who are closest to the work are best suited for the task because they have the most intimate knowledge of the detail of everyday work. This also increases workplace efficiency, and helps to develop people.

How Should You Delegate?

Delegation doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There are several different levels of delegation, each with different levels of delegate independence and supervision.

  • Delegate initiates action, and then reports periodically.
  • Delegate acts, and the reports immediately.
  • Delegate recommends what should be done, and then acts.
  • Delegate asks what to do.
  • Delegate waits to be told what to do.

People often move throughout these spheres during the delegation process. Make sure you match the amount of responsibility with the amount of authority. Understand that you can delegate some responsibility, but you can’t delegate away ultimate accountability.

Keeping Control

Now, once you have worked through the above steps, make sure you brief your team member appropriately. Take time to explain why they were chosen for the job, what’s expected from them during the project, the goals you have for the project, all timelines and deadlines, and the resources on which they can draw. Work together to develop a schedule for progress updates, milestones, and other key project points.

You will want to make sure that the team member knows that you want to know if any problems occur, and that you are available for any questions or guidance needed as the work progresses.

We all know that as team leaders, we shouldn’t micro-manage. However, this doesn’t mean we must abdicate control altogether. In delegating effectively, we have to find the difficult balance between giving enough space for people to use their abilities, while still monitoring and supporting closely enough to ensure that the job is done correctly and effectively. One way to encourage growth is to ask for recommended solutions when team members come to you with a problem, and then help them explore those solutions and reach a decision.

Related: Problem Solving Outcome Based Team Building Activities

The Importance of Full Acceptance

Set aside enough time to thoroughly review any delegated work delivered to you. If possible, only accept good quality, fully complete work. If you accept work that you are not satisfied with, your team member does not learn to do the job properly. Worse than this, you accept a new project that you will probably need to complete yourself. Not only does this overload you, it means that you don’t have the time to do your own job properly.

Of course, when good work is returned to you, make sure to both recognize and reward the effort. As a team leader, you should get in the practice of complimenting members of your team every time you are impressed by what they have done. This effort on your part will go a long way toward building the team members’ self-confidence and efficiency now and in the future.

 

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Reaching Team Goals by Improving Productivity

Reaching Team Goals by Improving Productivity

“Stressing output is the key to improving productivity, while looking to increase activity can result in just the opposite.” – Paul Gauguin

Improving time management strategies will help increase your team’s productivity. By improving productivity, your team will find it easier to reach their goals. Increased productivity takes time. However, as your team begins to implement different strategies, they will discover which methods are effective to improve productivity.

Repeating What Works

There are numerous programs, hints, and tips available to help improve productivity. The key to improvement is discovering what works and repeating actions with the appropriate tools. This requires researching and trying different strategies to determine which ones fit best with your team’s workload and habits. For example, not everyone can use the same technology to keep a schedule. Once you determine which resources and strategies are effective, it is important to keep repeating them. There is no reason to change a routine once you have determined what works for your team. Over time, the repetition will increase productivity and help your team reach their goals.

Get Faster

The faster your team becomes, the more productive they will be. Effort and practice will help increase your team’s speed on tasks that they perform regularly. For example, they can work on getting faster at typing, reading, walking, etc. No matter the task, they can just try to increase the speed a little bit at a time.

Related: Find out more about TBAE’s Goal Setting Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Remove “Should” from Your Dictionary

It is important for your team to avoid uncertainty in their language. For example, the word “should” needs to leave their dictionary. This word implies feelings of guilt because you do not plan on actually following through. For example, someone who says, “I should start exercising every morning” is not likely to start exercising. The decisive word “will” indicates a decision has been made. Saying, “I will start exercising” is making a commitment to follow through with an idea. Making this simple shift in vocabulary will commit your team to action and improve their productivity.

Build on Successes

Success itself can become a cycle if your team start small and build on your achievements. Once your team has a single success, they will find the motivation to work towards more. They should start with a small success and build. Let them begin with a goal that is easy to reach and move on to another achievable goal. These successes will provide a foundation to build on as they attempt to reach more goals and success. By moving from success to success, your team will be able to increase productivity.

 

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Help Your Team Reach Their Goals Through Wise Time Management

Help Your Team Reach Their Goals Through Wise Time Management

In a team, time management is the key to reaching goals. Without proper time management, it is easy for the team to become sidetracked by unimportant tasks that do not help them reach their goals. By encouraging your team to follow the following strategies, you will be helping your team navigate their time wisely.

Related: Time Management Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Determine the Difference Between Urgent and Important Tasks

In order to manage time effectively, your team needs to determine the difference between urgent and important tasks. Urgent tasks are tasks that need to be done quickly, and important tasks are related to specific goals. Most tasks will be a combination of the two, such as urgent/important or urgent/unimportant. Your team needs to place priority on important tasks, completing tasks that are both urgent and important first.

The key to time management is not to become trapped performing urgent tasks that are not important. They may be important to other people, but they are distractions and interruptions that do nothing to help the team meet their goals. Important tasks should take priority because they focus on specific goals.

The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule states that only 20 percent of our actions are responsible for 80 percent of our successes. This means that it is necessary to discover the 20 percent of our actions that are the most effective. Get your team to focus on these actions and make them priorities. The 80/20 Rule should be linked to the goals of the team. Once you prioritize goals, the team should spend most of their time working on the 20 percent of activities that they know will move them forward.

Related: Goal Setting Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Utilize a Calendar

Calendars are essential to effective time management. Calendars are familiar tools, but they are not always used effectively. When using a calendar to manage time, it is important that you only use one. Given the different calendar options, it is easy to try to integrate different calendars, but you risk scheduling mistakes. You can choose from physical calendars, mid tech options like day-timer, and high tech apps for your phone. Find the calendar that works for you and stick with it.

Calendar Rules:

  • Keep the calendar with you: Leaving the calendar behind means that you may forget to list something on it.
  • Only list appointments and day events: Appointments require specific times. Events include birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
  • Avoid notes: Do not clutter your calendar. Have a separate section for notes.
  • Include phone numbers: While you should avoid clutter, phone numbers and addresses may be useful.

Create Rituals to Improve Time Management

Rituals can help improve time management in your team. Rituals are repetitive actions, which do not need to be scheduled. For example, you do not think about brushing and flossing before bed or making coffee with breakfast. By creating rituals that connect with the team goals, the team members will not have to schedule certain tasks. These rituals will become habits over time.

 

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