Irrespective of the business type or model you have, ineffective employees will definitely cost your company big money. To avoid those expenses, there are things you can do to help your employees become more effective, and one part of having more productive employees is improving their time management skills. Effective time management gives people the ability to decide what to work on and when, leading to a better use of their time and a productive outcome. There are a handful of ways to ensure your employees know what to do and when to do them.

You can start by holding a class or seminar on time management. It will be a wrong move and a waste of effort if you start motivating your staff to become better at managing time if they don’t understand what effective time management is. It’s also important that you take out time to go over job responsibilities, expectations and goals with your employees. You can do this once a month or once every three months, but make the point of keeping your staff on the right track. Have it in mind that if you don’t remind employees of their job duties and expectations, they may start developing unproductive habits.

Your employees are the bedrock of your business. If they can’t manage their time effectively, then they can’t help you achieve your business aim. You also need to help your employees create concrete goals for themselves. Have it in mind that goal-setting requires time and effort, but having a plan of what to achieve and how to do it saves time and prevents wasted efforts. It is also important that you try to crack down on procrastination. Note that a lot of employees are more productive under deadline pressure, but their last-minute rushing can greatly disrupt the rest of the office. Work with procrastinating employees to break down tasks into smaller ones with reasonable deadlines for each of the project.

Teaching time management to your employees

We all can agree that time management is a very important skill in any workplace. Even if all employees manage their time well, there’s always room to improve. Even though you’re targeting perspective, organization, prioritization or any other facets of time management, there’s an activity tailored to that skill. Briefly explained below are ways to teach time management to your employees.

  1. Ace of Spades

This is one of the most popular time management teaching activity. You have to place two decks of card on a table. Keep one just as it came in the package but shuffle the other one thoroughly. Then hand over to one employee the shuffled deck, and give another employee the other deck. Have them race to see who can find the ace of spades the fastest. The non-shuffled deck will consistently turn up the ace of spades first. This activity goes to explain an important aspect of time management, which is how much organization matters. The more organized the employee, the better the time management.

2. Making Boats

To effectively use this method, split your employees into teams and have them elect a team leader. First take the team leaders aside and show them how to make a paper boat. Make sure they understand. Then, tell them to have their team produce 40 boats in 15 minutes. Note that this will help employees budget their time within a more real-world setting. More advanced time management activities like this one also serves to teach leadership, delegation, and teamwork.

3. Counting Minutes

You can also cover any clocks and make sure that employees don’t use their phones or watches. Ask them to sit quietly after you start the timer, but anytime they feel that a minute has passed, they should stand up. Once everyone’s ready, start the timer. People will stand up at various times. Have it in mind that this simple process shows how your employees view time differently. At the end of this time management activity, your employees will have a better idea of their own perception.

4. Yesterday’s Activities

When trying to teach your employees time management using this process, give them a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil. First, ask them to write the five topics they expect to discuss at their next performance review. Immediately they are done, have them write ten things they did yesterday. It can be anything. When they finish that, tell them to mark the link between the second page and the first. There will be attempts to make links in order to justify yesterday’s activities. For the most part, this time management activity will show employees things they do that don’t contribute to their goals or to the success of your company.

5. Puzzle Challenge

You can bring a big puzzle to work and ask your employees to put it together as fast as they can. Make sure they don’t see the box. After they work at it for a few minutes, stop them. They likely won’t be having much success. Ask them why that is, before letting them start again, this time with the box. They will be able to work much more efficiently. Discuss with them how individual tasks become easier to manage once they see the bigger picture.

6. Ribbon Cutting

In this teaching method, bring together your employees and show them a ribbon that’s 100 centimetres. Make them to understand that each centimetre represents a year. Cut it until the length equals the average lifespan. Then, trim away the group’s average age to show the time remaining in that lifespan. Continue cutting the ribbon for things like family time, sleep, and other non-work obligations. Then at the end of the time management activity, you’ll have a short ribbon left. Note that this provides perspective on how little time there is to work and how that time should be managed properly.

7. Time Squared

This teaching activity also involves writing. You have to give your employees a sheet of paper with 24 squares on it, each representing an hour. Have them fill out squares for routine activities outside of work. While with a second paper, have them do the same for the time at work spent not working. Later, hand out a third sheet. Ask them to fill in the squares from their first and second pages. The blank squares will be their productive time. This will show employees the time wasters they should avoid and reduce.

8. Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms are one of the most effective ways to teach time management. It is another one of the time management activities that incorporate yesterday’s action. In this activity, ask your employees to write everything they did yesterday. Then, ask them about the energy level they had for each activity. Note that this demonstrates that natural energy levels fluctuate. Experts believe that this will provide your employees with an idea of when they can be at their most productive. Also note that you can post these energy rhythms on a wall to help employees know how their optimal working times fit with others’.

9. Mayo Jar

To effectively use this method you will need an empty jar with a variety of large and medium-sized rocks. Each employee should fill the jar with the rocks to the best of his or her ability. Have it in mind that time management activities like this one help employees see prioritizing as a hands-on process. The larger rocks represent more important tasks, so it’s important to get those in the jar first. You should help them make this connection and relate it to their work.

10. Coloured Blocks

You need to understand that the coloured blocks and mayo jar time management activities go hand-in-hand. Here you will have to scatter a number of coloured blocks over a surface and instruct each employee to collect as many blocks as possible within a minute. They can only use their non-dominant hand, and they can only grab one at a time. After that round, assign points to different colours. Then let them play again, and discuss how the blocks worth the most points represent the tasks they should prioritize while working. This game also works great as an effective team building exercise.

11. Effective time management techniques to teach your employees

Teaching your employees effective time management techniques will help them make use of their time effectively and do their duties diligently. Note that without practical time management, you may actually find yourself having employees who are struggling to get things done. Teaching them the skill that they need to manage their time can go a long way to help improve their work performance. Indeed teaching and instigating effective time management into your staff is actually not hard as a lot of people think. Getting work done efficiently will not only improve the performance of the company but it will also result to satisfaction of the workers because they will know that they did their best.

12. Procrastination

Most times procrastination is a result of fear of failure or even success or believing that you cannot do things perfectly. Indecisive and disorganized personalities have a higher tendency to procrastinate. So for effective time management, you need to teach your employees the danger of procrastinating and why they should not even think of procrastinating their work. Make them understand that procrastination will not only consume a lot of time, but will also lower the productivity of the company. The evil called procrastination is actually not solving any problem, but avoiding it with meaningless excuses. The sad thing is that even if you run away from your problems today, you will wake up with more problems tomorrow. Your employees should never consider procrastinating as an option. You need to teach them how to tackle every problem head on no matter how tough the task may be. This will greatly save time.

13. Delegation

Work delegation is a very essential time management technique that will definitely help to save time. This is why you need to teach your employees how to break their job into smaller steps that are easy to manage. When working alone, you will do less work but when you delegate your assignment to other staff, the work will not only be done faster but will also be done better. You need to understand and also make them know that each person has his/her own unique abilities and when work is shared that work is done in a better way within the shortest time possible thereby growing the productivity of the company.

14. Keep a log

The moment you first begin to teach your employees on time management, have your employees keep a log for a week of everything they do throughout the day, then have them analyse the log and look for any time that was wasted each day. Note that if you can help them to keep that wasted time to a minimal, then they can use that time to do something useful for your company and for themselves.

15. Freedom

You need to understand that giving your employees freedom to be themselves does not only increase productivity but can also save reasonable time. Note that some employees work best by taking unpleasant tasks while some work best when they start doing their job from the middle. As a manager that wants to achieve the best, you need to learn to appreciate that each member of your staff is unique with the way each performs his/her work. One crucial aspect of effective time management techniques is actually giving your employees freedom to be themselves. As long as they do it in a timely manner, it actually doesn’t matter which steps they did first. Also note that some employees may work more efficiently if they complete difficult tasks first, while others work best when they start with easy tasks then progress to difficult ones later.

16. Establish time management goals

The focus of time management is actually changing your behaviour not changing time. This is why you have to teach your employees how to eliminate time wasters. For example, you can challenge them to set a goal of not taking personal call while working and see how much time they will save. Note that by helping your employees create time management goals, you will help them be more productive and efficient in service delivery.

17. Prioritize

It’s also very important that you teach your staff how to make a to-do list and how to categorize each job according to their urgency or importance. Have it in mind that a lot of employees take a lot of time doing things that are not a priority thus lowering the productivity of the company. But when assignments are prioritized, it doesn’t just make achieving them easier but will also ensure that clients get their issues solved on time. So when you teach your employees how to prioritize their work, they will greatly save time that they would have used to do tasks that are not important.

18. Work must be done anyway

An important aspect of time management is teaching your employees that work must be done; whether they procrastinate the project for days or just accomplish the task right away. You have to teach them that work must be done, hence they should not try to avoid them. You need to let them know that how they approach each assignment given to them will make a difference in their performance review, promotion potential and earnings. When your employees know that, they will always strive to do quality work on time.

19. Reward your employees

Don’t forget that by rewarding your employees in small ways or having them reward themselves, you will greatly inspire them to get the job done efficiently and on time. Indeed every employee likes to be recognized when they do great work and when you do so by rewarding them for their hard work, you will greatly boost their moral.

Conclusion

Aside from achieving the goals of your company, time management activities serve a great purpose in engaging employees in their own development. It is very advisable that you implement these exercises anytime you have the chance. Whether you use the specific time management activities mentioned above or others like them, you will be doing yourself and your employees a great deal of good. Don’t forget that employees go to work with the intention of doing a good job, and a big part of a manager’s responsibility is to make sure the employees know what is expected of them.

Ajaero Tony Martins