Thorough and intentional time management is a cornerstone of workplace productivity. However, even with the technology and tools available to streamline a business’s processes, employees face more distractions and time management issues than ever. As a member of leadership, it’s crucial to know how to help an employee with time management and push your workplace forward.
What Are the Barriers to Employee Time Management?
Distractions from All Directions
Between emails, Teams and Slack messages, computer notifications, and phones (both work and personal), modern-day employees are subjected to a barrage of daily distractions. Being distracted is one of the most concerning time management issues facing employees today. Not only does it disrupt productivity, but it also redirects energy and attention elsewhere.
Stress can cause and stem from poor time management, forming a feedback loop that results in more stress and a bigger backlog at work. Sometimes, outside stimuli in an employee’s personal life are the source of stress. Other times, stress is strictly work-related and leads to avoidance and negative emotions that further hamper productivity.
Most employees thrive when employers communicate clear goals and intentions for their work. Without concrete benchmarks to judge their work by, an employee may feel stressed about the quality, timeliness, or success of their projects. Unclear goals can also waste time. Instead of keeping the ball rolling on a project, an employee may feel stuck trying to figure out what they need to do or how to do it.
How to Help an Employee with Time Management
Evaluate Your Role
Before approaching an employee to address a time management issue, it’s crucial for a manager or supervisor to critically evaluate their role in the employee’s performance. As a manager, are you giving specific enough instructions? Are you keeping open lines of communication, and are they being used? Are you giving employees plenty of notice for their projects? Do you have a follow-up system to provide consistent feedback? If it’s helpful, write down how you think you already facilitate good time management and what you think you could do better. Use these reflections to understand what you expect from employees and how they might perceive your role, their work, and their own time management strategies.
Reduce the Number of Meetings
Meetings can be a major source of distraction for employees, especially if they have multiple calls per day or find some of them irrelevant to their role. Additionally, meetings can disrupt momentum if they’re working on a big project or a long list of repetitive tasks. By evaluating what calls for a face-to-face meeting versus what can be communicated individually through private messages or email, you can open up more dedicated focus time in your employees’ days.
Stress is unavoidable, both in an employee’s personal and work life. However, there are ways to mitigate and prepare for its impact. To minimize its effect on productivity, managers should encourage employees to rest. Reduce the amount of work and communication that’s done outside of work hours or the office. Give employees the flexibility to leave early or work at a slower pace when they need to prioritize their mental health. Doing so will help you foster a happy, healthy, and independent team.
Finally, when an employee is struggling with time management issues, remember to reward their successes. Even the small ones. This positive feedback will encourage employees to keep up the good work, get back on track, and maintain a healthy outlook on their job. Figuring out the type of support and guidance each team member needs is an important part of their individual professional development.