Tag: Managing Time

Time Management Skills for Teams

Time Management Skills for Teams

Building effective time management skills in teams require discipline and constant practice. It is easy to become fraught with tasks that are non-productive and time wasters. In this blog post we will discuss how teams can manage time better time with some very simple behavior modification.

Related: Time Management Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Managing Time

Developing good time management skills take discipline. It requires a conscientious effort from the team in knowing what they are doing for how long. It is defending the schedule and fending off distractions. If the team resolve to make time management their goal, they will be good at it.

Teach your team not be ashamed to let people know that they are conscience of their time. Furthermore, if they demonstrate respect for other people’s time, they will respect their time. Time management is not an art, it is a discipline. Remember, once time is wasted, you cannot get it back. We all are given the same amount of time per day. No one has more and no one has less.

Keeping the Team on Track

Almost every task that requires coordination among various persons could be deemed a project. A project is a temporary endeavor to reach a common goal by several entities. This could be interdepartmental, departmental, or externally with a vendor. Keeping the team on track presents both logistical and political challenges.

In project management, the project manager is skilled in holding project performers accountable and producing their task on time and in good quality. They accomplish this by documenting the name of the person responsible for the deliverable (item or task owed to the project). The work breakdown structure (WBS) document is the tool they use to monitor the deliverables of all project performers in an easy-to-read format.

The key to using a WBS is the level of detail you break down the task. Each task in a project should be broken down to a level where individual components and personal responsibility are identified. The start and end dates are then identified. To get this information you should meet with the project performer and their manager to solidify the deliverable. The more detail the better. If you are given vague information, it will be difficult to hold the performer accountable. Here are some questions you may need to ask:

  • Are there any tasks this deliverable is depended on?
  • Is the person assigned the only one working on this task?

If you get a yes to any of these questions, then record this on your WBS.

The next tool a project manager uses to hold performers accountable is the communication plan. The key to using this tool is to establish predetermined intervals of communication before the project begins. Set this expectation as you have the ability to contact each performer without appearing like a micromanager, which could cause conflict.

When creating your communication plan, incorporate intervals where you can communicate with a performer on a weekly. This way you are not reaching out to them only when things are falling behind. In your plan, schedule meetings for larger projects.

The best thing about these documents is that you will distribute them to the project team once they are complete. This public disclosure of who does what and your schedule of when you are going to call on them for updates create a natural desire to get things done.

Maintaining Schedules

Maintaining a schedule is a constant challenge. There are so many traps throughout the day where time could be wasted or mismanaged. Knowing common pitfalls that rob time is a simple but effective way for the team to maintain a schedule. Here some common time traps to watch for:

Avoid meeting run-over. This is a common area where time is wasted. Team meetings can easily run over by at least 30 minutes. Do this several times a day and you could lose hours of time this way. Making a conscious effort to avoid meeting run-over is essential. You have to make the decision before you enter the meeting. Before the meeting begins, tell attendees that you plan to end the meeting on time, and then end the meeting on time.

Avoid additional work that is unrelated to the activities the team are currently working on. Many times, a simple task pops up, and it seems like something that can be handled quickly, but once you get involved, it takes up more time than you think. Unplanned or poorly organized tasks tend to cost more time than at first glance. Sometimes it really constitutes unproductive or busy work. If the team sees something pop up that needs work. Put it in the planner.

Decline work the team cannot deliver. Many times the team may just have to decline the job. If they are unable to exchange the new task for one that is already scheduled and they know they cannot deliver both, they must decline it.

 

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Help Your Team Prioritize Their Time

Help Your Team Prioritize Their Time

Time management is about more than just managing time; it is about the team members managing themselves, in relation to time. It is about setting priorities and taking charge. It means changing habits or activities that cause the team to waste time. It means being willing to experiment with different methods and ideas to enable the team to find the best way to make maximum use of time.

Related: Time Management Outcome Based Team Building Activities

The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule, also known as Pareto’s Principle, states that 80% of your results come from only 20% of your actions. Across the board, you will find that the 80/20 principle is pretty much right on with most things in your life. For most people, it really comes down to analyzing what you are spending your time on. Are you focusing in on the 20% of activities that produce 80% of the results in your life?

The Urgent/Important Matrix

Great time management means being effective as well as efficient. Managing time effectively, and achieving the things that the team wants to achieve, means spending time on things that are important and not just urgent. To do this, the team needs to distinguish clearly between what is urgent and what is important:

Important: These are activities that lead to the achievement of team goals and have the greatest impact on the team.

Urgent: These activities demand immediate attention, but are often associated with outside goals rather than the goals of the team.

The Urgent/Important Matrix is a powerful way of organizing tasks based on priorities. Using it helps the team overcome the natural tendency to focus on urgent activities, so that they can have time to focus on what’s truly important.

The Urgent/Important Matrix:

Urgent And Important: Activities in this area relate to dealing with critical issues as they arise and meeting significant commitments. Perform these duties now.

Urgent, But Not Important: These chores do not move you forward toward your own goals. Manage by delaying them, cutting them short, and rejecting requests from others. Postpone these chores.

Not Urgent And Not Important: These trivial interruptions are just a distraction, and should be avoided if possible. However, be careful not to mislabel things like time with family and recreational activities as not important. Avoid these distractions altogether.

Being Assertive

At times, requests from others may be important and need immediate attention. Often, however, these requests conflict with team values and take time away from working toward the team goals. Even if it is something the team would like to do, but simply don’t 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.

 

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