Even with the lack of a commute for many of us working remotely, it still doesn’t feel like there’s enough time in the day to get everything at work done. The new distractions 2021 has introduced for those newer to remote work—from the neighbor’s dogs and music to balancing breaks and the difficulties of home/work distinction—make time management an even more critical part of every job’s required skill set.
To help turn things from overwhelming to a little more under control, we’re going to look at direct ways to improve time management in your team. In this article, you’ll learn:
- Why is time management important for teams?
- What benefits does good team time management bring?
- 8 ways to improve time management in your team
- How should a manager start supporting team time management?
Why is time management important for teams?
Time management is the ability of individuals and team members to plan and exercise control over how they spend their time. It’s present from when you start your morning routine and ensure that you’ve got enough time to walk the dog, all the way through how you break down your workday and run meetings. Juggling many things while you check items off your to-do list is the goal, and time management is how you structure your day to make that happen.
In a pure work sense, team time management governs how leaders run projects and how team members complete tasks. The aim is to give everyone the time they need while discouraging procrastination and outside work, emphasizing effectiveness and productivity. Leaders should set team schedules and offer time management strategies to help with task completion and avoid overworking someone.
The skills that are most important to maintain proper time management in your team include:
- Prioritization: Managers and team leads need to evaluate steps to make a project successful. From there, they’ll set task lists to move teams from one stage to the next, ensuring each accomplishment builds toward completion.
- Communication: This is a two-fold skill. Your team needs to be capable of communicating project statuses and where they need assistance. Leaders need to communicate so that your team feels comfortable asking for help or seeking clarification.
- Goal setting: Goal setting helps to create realistic expectations for your team. It allows you to allocate resources in a more efficient capacity, allowing you to focus on more manageable goals first. This will reduce stress on your team and help everyone to slowly achieve harder goals in the future.
- Accountability: Take ownership of the process you run and encourage your team to take responsibility for their part of the project. Accountability keeps people engaged and helps to avoid disagreements.
Five benefits of excellent time management for teams
In more direct terms, all companies will see specific benefits from improving time management in different teams:
- Accurate due dates and deliverables: Proper time management ensures deliverable dates are met as team members prioritize tasks and complete assignments on time.
- Greater team efficiency: Improve efficiency by reducing project delays. With a proper project schedule mapped out, all team members easily understand their roles and plan accordingly which improves the velocity at which they complete projects.
- Stress reduction: Time management ensures a less stressful environment for all team members as there is little to no confusion about timelines and deliverables. It keeps everyone accountable and makes it easier for leadership to track task completion and offer help before someone feels in over their head.
- Quality of work increases: Similar to team efficiency, time management ensures a better quality of work with all team members. With more time allotted to complete a project, quality is ensured as more available time is designated to give a project or task the attention it needs.
- Allowing time to focus on other opportunities: Running a project better reduces overruns and other interruptions. Your team can tackle tasks on work time, with less bleeding over into personal time. Completing projects faster also allows for improved testing and experimentation for what’s next.
Eight ways to improve time management in your team
Improving time management in your team is not an overnight process. It comes with incremental change and requires you to turn advice into new habits. We’ve put together eight items that can help you improve time management in your team.
1. Encourage a consistent team schedule
Consistency is key to managing your team’s time effectively. A set team schedule helps to create efficiency as team members become more familiar with the activities they complete daily. Workplace consistency focuses on deadlines as well as meetings to check in on progress.
If your team is unsure of how to improve or run their schedules, you can help directly. Create a list of their responsibilities and areas where each person struggles and excels. When you have that information together, follow this advice to help improve a team schedule:
- Identify employees who work well together or have complementary skills and assign tasks or create shifts to combine them.
- Post a team schedule in one location and encourage people to discuss their roles and requirements with others.
- Create availability charts to show everyone when someone is available. Don’t list reasons on the chart, just provide times, to avoid any concerns with HR.
- Identify backups and support for tasks and roles, make it easier for people to accomplish their tasks and the team to meet goals in the event someone is away unexpectedly.
- Use your leadership position to set firm schedules and dates, removing some of the guesswork from your team.
2. Coach your team on work prioritization
Empowering your team is a fantastic way to increase the quality of work. Empowerment requires you to give teams the knowledge and tools to understand and set correct priorities. Work to give them a feeling of ownership over their part, and they’ll be more encouraged to do their best.
3. Document tasks
One of the fastest ways to improve time management in your team is to log what work is done. Track task completion, time frames, and roadblocks. You’ll see what needs improvement and who you can celebrate this week. Lead by example here, including showing your team what you did during the timeframe and how you can improve.
4. Communicate overarching business goals
Communicating overarching business goals helps to tie the team into the company. Connecting their work to a larger goal encourages task completion, boosts productivity and can make it easier for your team to take pride in what they do.
5. Allow your team to decline non-priority tasks
A massive problem in team time management is many team members’ inability to say “no” to tasks when their workload is already full. Give your team a chance to discuss task assignments and work out a straightforward way for any member to say a task isn’t a priority.
Give your team some autonomy in these decisions and have a conversation when there is disagreement. Keeping them focused on high-priority tasks will help you meet milestones and avoid overloading any particular team member.
6. Improve collaboration between team members
Improving collaboration between team members is one of the most valuable assets in time management. Look for those collaboration tools designed to organize tasks and create recurring meetings or a way to evaluate deliverables. Some teams also perform better with visual aids that can serve as reminders for schedules and responsibilities.
Here are some collaboration tools that can significantly assist with time management in your team.
- Asana or Trello: Asana is a program that tracks a project’s schedule, assigns tasks, and shows progress. Trello is a web-based application that assists with creating lists and can also track deadlines easily. Both create detailed schedules that provide a great benefit to time management.
- Focus Booster: Focus booster uses the Pomodoro technique of dividing work into small intervals, helping those who have trouble focusing. This application aims to help create productivity organically by training an individual to work in easy-to-manage chunks.
- Slack: Slack is a messaging platform for teams or companies. You also can connect tools, services, and information within a secure environment, making it easy to communicate and manage time more efficiently.
7. Conduct regular check-ins with your team
Team time management involves a lot of regular check-ins or using things like the tools above to see the status of a project. You need to encourage people and check-in with your team to keep them on an upbeat track for moving projects forward. Thanking them for their work and celebrating aspects of a project during each week or meeting can help everyone stay engaged, which will impact their productivity.
8. Encourage your team to ask for help
Hiring a time management consultant can provide useful insight into how your team can manage their time. Experts review everything you do and evaluate your overall effectiveness. They also demonstrate to your team that it’s okay to ask for help, making them more likely to seek and provide assistance for your next project.
How do you start helping your team?
Team time management needs strong leadership. You’ll have to take charge and put policies in place to help. You must lead by example so that employees know that they can do certain tasks or follow specific rules without getting in trouble.
To improve time management in your team, there are a few areas to start:
- Plan your day with a clear outline of work and meeting time. Share your calendar with the team, and encourage them to create and share similar schedules.
- Turn projects and large tasks into small steps. Divide each into a manageable section and assign it to a team member. As you do this, create a priority list to keep everyone on track. Review tasks regularly to prevent overloading specific staff.
- Encourage breaks. People need to be able to get away, take a vacation, or not worry about being sick. Create leeway in your project timeline to account for these events.
Remember that you’re working with real people, and they have real needs. Take care of your team, and don’t overwork them just because you’re facing a crunch. Rest is crucial to a team’s health and productivity. Time management applies to a team’s workload and can impact your team’s mental health. If a team focuses solely on work, they’re more likely to burn out and lose perspective on a task or project. Give them the chance to take the breaks and time they need to manage their work while having the right work/life balance.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.