Managing time is rarely learned while being stuck in a workshop room with your team.
It is oftentimes learned by doing. So teaching and learning time management should be practical and actionable.
Based on this hypothesis confirmed in 8 years with our 100,000 users, we made this article to serve as a practical guide.
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During the article, you’ll find the following:
- the three most important time management skills you and your team should have;
- how to develop them in two simple ways;
- what are the most effective techniques for managing time;
- a practical example of how using a time-tracking tool leads to learning time management;
- and others.
According to Erich C. Dierdorff, professor of management and entrepreneurship, there are three skills separating time management success from failure:
- Awareness: the ability to think and estimate realistically your time by understanding that time is limited;
- Arrangement: the ability to design and organize tasks, goals, and schedules to make effective use of time;
- Adaptation: the ability to monitor your use of time while performing tasks, including any adjustments and interruptions that come along the way.
Dierdorff also indicates that arrangement is one of the most familiar, while awareness and adaptation aren’t as widespread and recognized.
With these in mind, let’s explore two simple instruments to tackle and develop these time management skills practically: time management techniques and time tracking and management tools.
If you are scheduling important tasks in the most productive period of the day or focus on spending time to plan ahead for your upcoming week, then you are managing your time in some capacity.
These examples are brief introductions to time management techniques.
Time management methods are handy mostly in developing one’s arrangement and awareness skills, but let’s explore proven methods in depth:
- Eisenhower Matrix: A framework that helps to prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance. It was created by Eisenhower himself to help prioritize all his duties in the US Army.
- ABCDE Method: Rank tasks from the most to the least important, based on five categories, and tackle them in that order.
- Time Blocking: Allocate specific time slots in a day to specific tasks, keep up with that time slot, and focus only on that task. This method is especially beneficial for project-based work and prevents overload or energy wasted on multitasking.
- Timeboxing: Similar to time blocking, timeboxing involves allotting a fixed, unbreakable “box” of time to a task, ensuring it gets completed within that period. This method is particularly effective in preventing tasks from taking longer than necessary and helps meet deadlines more consistently.
- The Pomodoro technique: Schedule your time in bursts of 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. We know its name comes from the Italian word for “tomato,” but its effects on focus and beating procrastination have been proven by research.
Once applied, these techniques help you control your daily schedule better, minimize interruptions, and optimize time usage. At the same time, these are training your awareness and arrangement skills, by helping you organize time more efficiently and training your ability to estimate more realistically.
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- FREE work schedule templates
- Time tracker printable template
- Time blocking templates
- How to make a time management plan
While time management is about planning how to use time most effectively, time tracking takes the planning further.
Time tracking is about consistently recording the actual usage of time for various activities. In turn, by tracking time, you’ll be provided with:
accurate data to understand how realistically your plan was created, how to forecast the next budget, or if you need to proactively change the deadline of an important project, as it is at risk.
How a communications agency tracks collective time to maintain the right level of client servicing
“We all love using Timeular. It’s really easy to use and straightforward, especially if you haven’t done time tracking before. We actually enjoy using it and it’s so helpful.” – Eva Lightfoot, Senior Account Executive, Harpswood
You could also use traditional tracking methods like paper or digital documents or the well-known Google Sheets time tracking and Excel time tracking; however, they produce friction and are time-consuming.
Conversely, providing your team access to a time-tracking app offers significant help in organizing and managing their time efficiently in real time.
Here’s how tracking time helps develop all three skills mentioned:
- it helps develop awareness by seeing the tracked data showing how realistic estimations were versus the turnover time.
Note: This is Timeular’s productivity insights dashboard – it helps to understand app usage, times in which you are most productive or unproductive, and what tasks eat up your time inefficiently.
- it develops arrangement as it offers a simple interface with multiple ways of creating projects, tags, and goals, so you and the team can plan ahead;
- increases adaptation while giving you and your team a bird’s eye view in real-time to understand the progress, including any adjustments needed to the plan.
- and others: for a comprehensive view of how a time tracking tool helps, check the below section on Timeular.
You might be interested too in a comprehensive article about manual timesheets and why it’s time to ditch them.
Time tracking is often identified as control or micromanagement by employees, so it’s important to introduce this practice intentionally to your team for a seamless transition.
The best practices recommended for a smooth transition are:
- Select an easy-to-use tool: an intuitive, easily accessible time-tracking tool will minimize the learning curve for your team and increase adoption. Compatibility with your existing apps and workflows adds up to its adoption and convenience, too.
- Explain its benefits: demonstrate to your team that tracking time is not a surveillance measure but a way to reduce overtime, become more productive, and manage work better. Also, explain its benefits to your organization, such as better project planning, resource allocation, and improvement of work estimates.
- Provide training and support: your team already juggles countless tasks and tools; make it easy for them to start utilizing another tool. Initial training on the new tool and continuous support as everyone becomes familiar with it helps.
TIP: Ideally, request the consultants who held the tool demo with you to schedule a workshop for the team – Timeular, for example, offers a free initial workshop to help with set-up and best practices to encourage adoption.
“People complain a lot less about time tracking now because of the easy interface of Timeular.”
Kaitlin Snow Seamons, Executive Creative Director at Harmon Brothers
Regular check-ins: improving time management skills takes time, so it would be best to check the tracked data that can provide insights into what’s working and what’s not.
Note: it would be best to add to your to-do lists to remind students (aka your team) to keep tracking their time so they can get into the habit of tracking. Not everybody enjoys tracking time right away.
Let’s explore Timeular – as it’s loved by over 100,000 users, and it has the most recurring reviews emphasizing ease of use.
Timeular is a time-tracking tool characterized by ease of use and automation, and it helps remove the noise so that its users learn how to use time as their resource. Here are some of the most preferred capabilities:
AI capabilities – which allow your team to automatically track time while they perform tasks in the background
its anti-surveillance and data privacy measures – you can win your team over with this – In Timeular, tracked data is stored only on the local computer, not in the cloud; and managers cannot spy on the team while they work, as they have access to tracked data only after 24 hours
multiple ways of tracking – your team can track on the calendar view, with keyboard shortcuts, or the physical tracker – they just need to choose what works best for them
the physical time-tracking gadget – allows tracking up to 1,000 tasks just by flipping it to another side assigned to a task
Timeular enables managers to:
generate intuitive reports automatically to identify app usage and productivity patterns that need to be changed within the team; they can spot revenue-generating tasks and activities that should be prioritized, too.
get a glance into billable and non-billable hours with a click
capacity plan and approval based on leave and overtime hours, including paid and sick leave, which will be automatically reflected in the monthly timesheet. Note: Many tools of this kind don’t include leave and overtime trackingNote: Many tools of this kind don’t include leave and overtime tracking.
“Since we started using Timeular and tracking our time, we’ve never made another mistake in planning, creating accurate proposals, or budgeting for clients. It’s so easy to use. Everyone uses it, and it shows.” – AC Coppens, Founder of THE CATALYSTS
- get a real-time overview of budgets and prevent overbudgeting effortlessly by receiving notifications once certain limits have been reached;
- task visualization: you can visualize in real-time how to allocate team time across different tasks. Another insight can be prioritizing tasks differently based on the schedule progress.
All these capabilities of Timeular enable you to unlock the time management skills mentioned.
An effective way of teaching time management skills is by creating a culture that supports and reinforces time management. To do so, consider the following tips:
Establish clear expectations
Through transparent communication, let your team members know what good time management looks like and what is expected of them. Ensure that these expectations are aligned with overarching organizational goals.
Moreover, clarity regarding deadlines, project goals, and daily tasks prevents confusion and inefficiencies. As a leader, you should articulate these expectations clearly, setting a standard for time management within the team.
First off, accountability should be framed in a positive light, fostering a sense of responsibility and pride in one’s work.
Hold individuals accountable for how they spend time on tasks, encourage them to own time, and turn it into their benefit.
When team members take ownership of their tasks and deadlines, it not only boosts their personal productivity but also contributes to the efficiency of the entire team.
Individual responsibility: Emphasize the importance of personal responsibility in managing one’s own time. This can be encouraged through regular check-ins and progress reports.
Team accountability: Foster a team environment where members hold each other accountable. This can be achieved through collaborative tools, such as time management tools, that allow visibility into each member’s contributions.
Foster team collaboration
Encouraging a collaborative environment can help team members prioritize tasks that impact the group’s goals. When your team works well together, they can streamline processes and share the workload, leading to more efficient time use.
Team meetings: Regular meetings can help align goals, distribute tasks evenly, and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Collaborative tools: Implement collaborative tools that facilitate easy sharing of information and progress tracking among team members.
Despite the benefits, implementing time management practices can be met with resistance. Challenges often arise simply due to the change management that has to be considered in implementing a new strategy or tool.
Resistance to time management typically stems from the following:
Perceived Micromanagement: Employees may resist feeling “watched” or managed too closely.
Learning Curve: There might be initial pushback due to the additional effort required to adopt new habits.
Skepticism: Some team members may not immediately see the value in time management practices and tracking.
Strategies for overcoming resistance
To address these challenges, consider the following strategies:
Communicate openly: Address concerns openly and transparently. Show the benefits of time management and how these practices empower rather than restrict.
Incentivize progress: Offer incentives for individuals and teams that show improvement in their time management and tracking practices.
Continual improvement: Regularly review and refine the time management processes to ensure they align with the evolving needs of the team.
Learn time management practically with smart time tracking tools
Start tracking time with Timeular today
Teaching the practice of managing and tracking time effectively requires persistently applying and implementing a consistent routine and is, in the end, a mix of factors.
It all starts with understanding the principles of effective use of time, choosing the right tool, providing training, fostering a supportive culture, and navigating resistance with strategic leadership.
By approaching this challenge with diligence, empathy, and a clear vision, you can catalyze a transformation that not only enhances individual productivity but also elevates the performance of the entire organization.
Remember, the practice of mastering time is not a solo journey. Whether you’re an individual contributor, a team leader, or a C-level executive – your investment in teaching and modeling good time practices will reverberate through your organization, leading to a more efficient, happier, and, ultimately, more successful workplace.
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