How to Help an Employee with Time Management

How to Help an Employee with Time Management

Employees with time management issues can create problems for your business, especially if they're routinely late completing tasks. As a manager or team leader, recognize that time management is a skill that you can teach if you have the right tools. Poor time management isn't a character flaw and is nothing to be ashamed about. Help your employees organize and schedule their time and you'll have happier, healthier employees who will work more efficiently for you.[1] X Research source

Method 1 of 3:
Scheduling Tasks Efficiently

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1
Estimate the time needed to complete each task. Most people both overestimate and underestimate how long it will take them to complete a task, depending on the type of task. Have employees keep a time diary and log how long it takes to complete tasks every day for a week or two. This gives them a better picture of how long it actually takes to get things done. [2] X Research source Employees who are accustomed to billing their time (such as lawyers and mechanics) typically have a better idea of how long it should take to complete routine tasks they face regularly.
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2
Break larger projects into small parts with separate due dates. Multiple deadlines require employees to work incrementally, preventing procrastination. Earlier deadlines also help you quickly identify any problems and eliminate them before a project is completed. [3] X Research source Smaller increments of time are easier to estimate and schedule, which improves efficiency. This technique is particularly good for perfectionists, who might end up spending too long on a project because they're stressing out over making sure every detail is perfect. If you look at projects early on, you can let them know what they can leave alone and what might need a little more work.
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3
Set high-demand tasks when employees have the most energy. Is your employee a morning person or a night owl? It's likely they already know the answer to that question, even if you don't. Morning people tend to have more energy in the morning, while night owls are just getting into the swing of things after lunch. That's when they should be doing the tasks that require the most focus, energy, and brainpower. [4] X Research source Talk to your employees to get a sense of the times of day when they work best. Your employees will be more productive if their schedules are organized to accommodate their energy cycles. If you can help your employee get into a good flow each day, they'll be more productive and efficient.[5] X Expert Source Arda Ozdemir, MA Arda Ozdemir, MA
Career & Life Coach Expert Interview. 4 October 2019. For example, if you have an employee who regularly comes in early, they might schedule tasks that require a lot of concentration early in the morning when there aren't many people around.
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4
Automate tasks that don't require a lot of thought. Your employees can use technology to get a lot of routine, monotonous things done that would normally take up a large portion of their day. Set up email templates and automatic scheduling features on calendars so your employees don't have to do these things by hand. [6] X Research source If you've had your employees keep time diaries, you can go through these to figure out what routine tasks that don't require a lot of thought are taking up a lot of their time. Automating or simplifying these tasks can free up a lot of their time for more productive activities.
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5
Streamline processes and procedures to make them more efficient. Talk to your employees about your procedures for getting things done—they'll be the first to tell you which things they do that they feel are a waste of their time. If you can figure out how to eliminate those things, it will improve employee morale as well as productivity. [7] X Research source For example, you may have employees submitting status reports on projects, but the reality is that these reports are rarely used by management and employees see them as a waste of time. If they're not serving any function for your business, you can simply get rid of them.
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6
Hold regular meetings to discuss scheduling issues. Short meetings with your employees help them identify and recognize problems with their schedules so you can resolve them as a group. It also gives you an opportunity to manage difficulties without any employees feeling singled out. [8] X Research source These meetings also help you and your employees delegate tasks to people who aren't as busy, so you don't have a few employees who feel overwhelmed while others are bored. If you notice an employee with a packed schedule, figure out what you can take off of their plate. If you notice that some employees are more efficient at certain tasks than others, you might put them in charge of that particular area. For example, if you've got an employee who is really good at handling client phone calls, you might have more calls directed to them.
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Method 2 of 3:
Organizing Employee Workspace

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1
Provide enough storage for files and other paperwork. Your employees will waste precious time if they have to hunt down the paperwork they need for a task every time. Make sure everyone knows where to get the documents they need quickly and have files they use regularly close at hand. [9] X Research source Make sure employees can get whatever documents they need without having to go through someone else. This can waste precious time if that person happens to not be available when they're needed.
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2
Establish a dedicated place for electronic devices. While your employees might need tablets, phones, or other electronic devices for work, they can also be a source of distractions. Encourage each employee to set aside a specific spot in their work area for their devices when they aren't in use. [10] X Research source You might even include a charging station in the spot for extra convenience. If your employees don't need their devices for work, it's generally better to have them out of sight, such as in a drawer.
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3
Encourage employees to clean their desks every day. Taking a few minutes at the end of the day to clear off work from that day creates a clean slate. Spending a few minutes cleaning and organizing also keeps this from being a bigger and more involved task later on. [11] X Research source Cleaning your desk at the end of the day also helps you set the stage for the next workday. This gives employees an opportunity to go over what they've accomplished and figure out what they need to do tomorrow. They can also prep their workspace by getting any important files or other materials they'll need ready to go.[12] X Research source
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4
Allow employees to personalize their workspaces. Having personal mementos at your desk or workstation helps motivate and inspire employees. Even if your work environment has more rigorous standards, you can usually still find ways to let your employees add a little personalization to their spaces. [13] X Research source For example, your employees might include a framed photo of their kids, pets, or other family members on their desk. Employees who have difficulty with focus might also benefit from having fidget toys or similar items around their workspace. Plants are another way to bring life to the workplace as well as give it a more homey atmosphere.
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5
Design workspaces that encourage employees to move around. Sitting in one place for hours on end is bad for your employees' health and productivity. Encouraging them to move around throughout the day keeps their energy up and their minds awake and energized. [14] X Research source For example, you might install desks that convert from sitting to standing desks, or offer balance ball chairs. Even if your workplace has a more closed floor plan, you can still ensure there are open areas where employees can move around as they go about their day.
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6
Create boundaries and rituals to separate home workspaces. When employees work from home, various demands from their home life can creep into their workday, making it difficult for them to manage their time. Having a clear delineation between work and home helps employees focus on work and eliminate distractions. [15] X Research source Not all employees who work from home can create a separate room as a home office. However, it helps if they have a desk in a corner facing the wall, rather than facing the rest of the home. If you have the resources, provide your employees who work from home with an allowance for equipment and electronic devices so they can outfit a workspace that's solely dedicated to work, rather than using their personal computer for work tasks.
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Method 3 of 3:
Improving Focus on Tasks

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1
Prioritize and complete the most urgent tasks first. Teach your employees to identify the most important tasks on their schedule for the day and do those first thing, when they have the most energy and enthusiasm. Having those things done and out of the way gives them time to work on other tasks without being so worried about interruptions. [16] X Research source For example, your employee might want to take care of urgent requests from your clients or customers first, before working on a longer-term project that doesn't have to be completed for several months. Create a spreadsheet with your employees' usual tasks and organize them according to their level of urgency. Your employees can use this as a reference when they're not sure how to prioritize the work they have to do.
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2
Build in small breaks throughout the day. Employees' minds start to wander if they work continuously for huge chunks of time. Encourage your employees to stand and move around for 3-5 minutes every hour or so, take deep breathing breaks, or switch off between active and passive tasks to maintain their focus. [17] X Research source For example, if an employee has 3 reports to read and 2 memos to write, they might switch off by reading a report, then writing a memo, then reading the next report. Breaks are especially important for creative employees, who might get some of their best ideas when they're out for a walk or doing a breathing exercise. Even simply getting up and doing some jumping jacks helps get the blood flowing so employees have better focus.
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3
Establish clear guidelines for responding to phone calls and emails. Constant interruptions pull your employees off-task. Let them know how long they have to respond to different types of phone calls and emails so they don't have to worry about the consequences if they ignore a notification to focus on the task at hand. [18] X Research source Go to employees face-to-face with matters that are actually urgent. For employees working from home, set up a specific communications channel exclusively for urgent messages. For example, you might tell employees to respond to most emails by the next business day and most phone calls within 4 to 6 hours. Allow employees time each day when they can go "radio silent" and ignore calls and emails while they complete tasks. An hour or two each day is usually sufficient.
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4
Minimize distractions during the workday. Limit the different apps and messaging systems you use so your employees aren't facing constant notifications that demand their attention. Encourage "heads-down" time when employees can turn off their phones and notifications and zone in on their work. [19] X Research source If an employee is constantly bombarded with phone calls and notifications, they'll have a hard time focusing on the task at hand. Each time they're interrupted and return to that task, it'll take them even longer to get back in the groove.
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5
Use time-management software to track employee time use. Many employees either underestimate or overestimate the amount of time it will take them to do something, then are left at the end of the day wondering where all their time went. Time management software helps them see exactly how they're using their time at work so they can find ways to use that time more effectively. [20] X Research source Most of these programs offer a free trial, so you can try several of them out and see which one you like the best. Get feedback from your employees on which software is the easiest to use. Have regular meetings with your employees about time management and ask what frustrates them or what they feel is taking them off-task. Encourage them to be open and honest about the things that make it difficult for them to manage their time efficiently so you can eliminate or reduce those problems.
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Method 1 of 3:
Scheduling Tasks Efficiently

Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 1
1
Estimate the time needed to complete each task. Most people both overestimate and underestimate how long it will take them to complete a task, depending on the type of task. Have employees keep a time diary and log how long it takes to complete tasks every day for a week or two. This gives them a better picture of how long it actually takes to get things done. [2] X Research source Employees who are accustomed to billing their time (such as lawyers and mechanics) typically have a better idea of how long it should take to complete routine tasks they face regularly.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 2
2
Break larger projects into small parts with separate due dates. Multiple deadlines require employees to work incrementally, preventing procrastination. Earlier deadlines also help you quickly identify any problems and eliminate them before a project is completed. [3] X Research source Smaller increments of time are easier to estimate and schedule, which improves efficiency. This technique is particularly good for perfectionists, who might end up spending too long on a project because they're stressing out over making sure every detail is perfect. If you look at projects early on, you can let them know what they can leave alone and what might need a little more work.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 3
3
Set high-demand tasks when employees have the most energy. Is your employee a morning person or a night owl? It's likely they already know the answer to that question, even if you don't. Morning people tend to have more energy in the morning, while night owls are just getting into the swing of things after lunch. That's when they should be doing the tasks that require the most focus, energy, and brainpower. [4] X Research source Talk to your employees to get a sense of the times of day when they work best. Your employees will be more productive if their schedules are organized to accommodate their energy cycles. If you can help your employee get into a good flow each day, they'll be more productive and efficient.[5] X Expert Source Arda Ozdemir, MA Arda Ozdemir, MA
Career & Life Coach Expert Interview. 4 October 2019. For example, if you have an employee who regularly comes in early, they might schedule tasks that require a lot of concentration early in the morning when there aren't many people around.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 4
4
Automate tasks that don't require a lot of thought. Your employees can use technology to get a lot of routine, monotonous things done that would normally take up a large portion of their day. Set up email templates and automatic scheduling features on calendars so your employees don't have to do these things by hand. [6] X Research source If you've had your employees keep time diaries, you can go through these to figure out what routine tasks that don't require a lot of thought are taking up a lot of their time. Automating or simplifying these tasks can free up a lot of their time for more productive activities.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 5
5
Streamline processes and procedures to make them more efficient. Talk to your employees about your procedures for getting things done—they'll be the first to tell you which things they do that they feel are a waste of their time. If you can figure out how to eliminate those things, it will improve employee morale as well as productivity. [7] X Research source For example, you may have employees submitting status reports on projects, but the reality is that these reports are rarely used by management and employees see them as a waste of time. If they're not serving any function for your business, you can simply get rid of them.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 6
6
Hold regular meetings to discuss scheduling issues. Short meetings with your employees help them identify and recognize problems with their schedules so you can resolve them as a group. It also gives you an opportunity to manage difficulties without any employees feeling singled out. [8] X Research source These meetings also help you and your employees delegate tasks to people who aren't as busy, so you don't have a few employees who feel overwhelmed while others are bored. If you notice an employee with a packed schedule, figure out what you can take off of their plate. If you notice that some employees are more efficient at certain tasks than others, you might put them in charge of that particular area. For example, if you've got an employee who is really good at handling client phone calls, you might have more calls directed to them.
Advertisement

Method 2 of 3:
Organizing Employee Workspace

Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 7
1
Provide enough storage for files and other paperwork. Your employees will waste precious time if they have to hunt down the paperwork they need for a task every time. Make sure everyone knows where to get the documents they need quickly and have files they use regularly close at hand. [9] X Research source Make sure employees can get whatever documents they need without having to go through someone else. This can waste precious time if that person happens to not be available when they're needed.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 8
2
Establish a dedicated place for electronic devices. While your employees might need tablets, phones, or other electronic devices for work, they can also be a source of distractions. Encourage each employee to set aside a specific spot in their work area for their devices when they aren't in use. [10] X Research source You might even include a charging station in the spot for extra convenience. If your employees don't need their devices for work, it's generally better to have them out of sight, such as in a drawer.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 9
3
Encourage employees to clean their desks every day. Taking a few minutes at the end of the day to clear off work from that day creates a clean slate. Spending a few minutes cleaning and organizing also keeps this from being a bigger and more involved task later on. [11] X Research source Cleaning your desk at the end of the day also helps you set the stage for the next workday. This gives employees an opportunity to go over what they've accomplished and figure out what they need to do tomorrow. They can also prep their workspace by getting any important files or other materials they'll need ready to go.[12] X Research source
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 10
4
Allow employees to personalize their workspaces. Having personal mementos at your desk or workstation helps motivate and inspire employees. Even if your work environment has more rigorous standards, you can usually still find ways to let your employees add a little personalization to their spaces. [13] X Research source For example, your employees might include a framed photo of their kids, pets, or other family members on their desk. Employees who have difficulty with focus might also benefit from having fidget toys or similar items around their workspace. Plants are another way to bring life to the workplace as well as give it a more homey atmosphere.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 11
5
Design workspaces that encourage employees to move around. Sitting in one place for hours on end is bad for your employees' health and productivity. Encouraging them to move around throughout the day keeps their energy up and their minds awake and energized. [14] X Research source For example, you might install desks that convert from sitting to standing desks, or offer balance ball chairs. Even if your workplace has a more closed floor plan, you can still ensure there are open areas where employees can move around as they go about their day.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 12
6
Create boundaries and rituals to separate home workspaces. When employees work from home, various demands from their home life can creep into their workday, making it difficult for them to manage their time. Having a clear delineation between work and home helps employees focus on work and eliminate distractions. [15] X Research source Not all employees who work from home can create a separate room as a home office. However, it helps if they have a desk in a corner facing the wall, rather than facing the rest of the home. If you have the resources, provide your employees who work from home with an allowance for equipment and electronic devices so they can outfit a workspace that's solely dedicated to work, rather than using their personal computer for work tasks.
Advertisement

Method 3 of 3:
Improving Focus on Tasks

Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 13
1
Prioritize and complete the most urgent tasks first. Teach your employees to identify the most important tasks on their schedule for the day and do those first thing, when they have the most energy and enthusiasm. Having those things done and out of the way gives them time to work on other tasks without being so worried about interruptions. [16] X Research source For example, your employee might want to take care of urgent requests from your clients or customers first, before working on a longer-term project that doesn't have to be completed for several months. Create a spreadsheet with your employees' usual tasks and organize them according to their level of urgency. Your employees can use this as a reference when they're not sure how to prioritize the work they have to do.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 14
2
Build in small breaks throughout the day. Employees' minds start to wander if they work continuously for huge chunks of time. Encourage your employees to stand and move around for 3-5 minutes every hour or so, take deep breathing breaks, or switch off between active and passive tasks to maintain their focus. [17] X Research source For example, if an employee has 3 reports to read and 2 memos to write, they might switch off by reading a report, then writing a memo, then reading the next report. Breaks are especially important for creative employees, who might get some of their best ideas when they're out for a walk or doing a breathing exercise. Even simply getting up and doing some jumping jacks helps get the blood flowing so employees have better focus.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 15
3
Establish clear guidelines for responding to phone calls and emails. Constant interruptions pull your employees off-task. Let them know how long they have to respond to different types of phone calls and emails so they don't have to worry about the consequences if they ignore a notification to focus on the task at hand. [18] X Research source Go to employees face-to-face with matters that are actually urgent. For employees working from home, set up a specific communications channel exclusively for urgent messages. For example, you might tell employees to respond to most emails by the next business day and most phone calls within 4 to 6 hours. Allow employees time each day when they can go "radio silent" and ignore calls and emails while they complete tasks. An hour or two each day is usually sufficient.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 16
4
Minimize distractions during the workday. Limit the different apps and messaging systems you use so your employees aren't facing constant notifications that demand their attention. Encourage "heads-down" time when employees can turn off their phones and notifications and zone in on their work. [19] X Research source If an employee is constantly bombarded with phone calls and notifications, they'll have a hard time focusing on the task at hand. Each time they're interrupted and return to that task, it'll take them even longer to get back in the groove.
Image titled Help an Employee with Time Management Step 17
5
Use time-management software to track employee time use. Many employees either underestimate or overestimate the amount of time it will take them to do something, then are left at the end of the day wondering where all their time went. Time management software helps them see exactly how they're using their time at work so they can find ways to use that time more effectively. [20] X Research source Most of these programs offer a free trial, so you can try several of them out and see which one you like the best. Get feedback from your employees on which software is the easiest to use. Have regular meetings with your employees about time management and ask what frustrates them or what they feel is taking them off-task. Encourage them to be open and honest about the things that make it difficult for them to manage their time efficiently so you can eliminate or reduce those problems.
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