Most people only think of time management when they start to feel their time is in short supply. However, as with most things, it’s better to develop habits and strategies that prevent problems in the first place. Poor time management habits, or a lack of good habits, create an enormous drag on productivity. To help, we’ve put together a list of some of the worst productivity-killers and how a time tracking system can put you and your employees on track to saving time and getting more accomplished.
Everyone has a legitimate excuse for arriving late to work every so often. Poor punctuality becomes a real threat to productivity, however, when there develops a culture of not respecting time. Time tracking is a simple, effective way to reverse this trend, or prevent it from forming in the first place. Time tracking apps and online time management systems offer a robust, automated way to keep punctuality from getting lost in the day-to-day shuffle. When employees know their hours are being logged – either by signing into a time clock terminal or scanning into an app with a QR code – there’s no sense that tardiness passes unnoticed. It also provides work time data accessible to both employers and employees that can be used to have a respectful, facts-based discussion about how to change the behavior.
Rushing through work lowers productivity and creates a contagious stress environment for the whole office. But how does one avoid rushing when there is more work to do than hours in the day? Strategies we’ve discussed elsewhere on the blog – single-tasking, goal setting, and taking smart breaks among others – are great ways to start getting more accomplished with your limited time. Time tracking also pairs terrifically with these productivity boosters. Tracking time forces you to be more aware of how long tasks take and where you’re investing your hours. Further, once you’ve tracked yourself for a while, you’ll have hard data showing how long certain tasks and activities take. This is invaluable for scheduling time more productively and getting ahead of work so that you’re not pushed into a position of rushing.
Small picture thinking
When work gets busy, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the details of immediate and urgent work activities, like responding to emails. However, it’s important to schedule time regularly to sit back and consider what activities are really driving productivity. Detailed time tracking can be a great aid in this, as it provides data on work time investments, which can then be measured against actual business outputs. With this in mind, reduce the amount of time invested in low-output activities, and re-prioritize activities that contribute to big-picture business goals. This is not to say that small-picture activities are inessential; rather, you’ll find yourself engaged in more truly productive work when time is taken to align all tasks with the big picture.
Chaotic work patterns
At first glance time tracking may seem invasive and even dictatorial. However, many of the world’s most productive people were or are fanatical about keeping a strict, well-regulated schedule. Establishing and maintaining a routine increases efficiency, benefits mental health, and even provides more opportunities to relax. Tracking time encourages the formation of routine at work, and also generates time management data useful to improving routines for even greater efficiency. Chaotic work patterns promote reactionary problem-solving strategies, whereas routine encourages proactive thinking. Flexibility and adaptability are still incredibly important for both business leaders and employees, but routine work patterns set a foundation of greater efficiency, discipline, and positive work habits that make it easier to deal with surprises when they arise.