“Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed,” Peter Drucker says in his book, The Effective Executive.
He’s right! In today’s 24-hour economy, time management is one of the most important skills.
On an average day at the office, there are plenty of distractions; meetings, water cooler chats, switching tasks, and changing priorities. Before you know it, the hours are fading, and your team is falling behind on tasks while the deadlines are looming.
On top of managing the actual workload, team time management involves coordinating and prioritizing tasks, schedules, and resources across team members to ensure that the team works efficiently and effectively. By managing time effectively, team members can avoid delays, reduce stress, and achieve better results.
Turn things from overwhelming to in control with our 15 practical ways to improve your team time management, whether your team works together in-office or remotely.
Time is one of the most precious, non-renewable resources, but it is shocking how much of it goes to waste. A McKinsey asked 1500 executives how they spent their time and discovered only 9 percent found themselves very satisfied with their current allocation.
Not only can proper time management remove some of the distractions for your team but also lower their stress level. In fact, 4 in 10 adults believe to need more time to do all they want in a day according to research by Gallup.
Source: Gallup survey Dec 11, 2017
For teamwork, time management establishes a structure that helps prioritize and distribute workload across the team for optimal results and increased production – with minimal distractions.
The benefits of improving time management lead to high-performing teams, also contributing to better workflows and team communication. Other benefits of team time management include:
Efficiency and productivity
When team members manage their time well, they are more likely to meet their deadlines, and by delivering their important tasks on time, they can scale the projects a lot faster.
Sounds good, right?
Effectively improving the way you manage your team’s time can help team members feel more accountable for their tasks, leading to increased productivity. It also helps team members understand the amount of time required to complete a task.
However, it is important to introduce a good time management framework in a way that does not induce fear in employees. Empower the team by giving them control over their schedule and allowing them to make decisions based on their experience.
During performance reviews, rely on data to evaluate individual team members and identify strengths and weaknesses. Then, use these insights to allocate hours more effectively for future workloads based on joint conclusions reached during post-project evaluations.
Many teams are facing accountability issues due to the increased flexibility brought about by changes to workplace cultures in the aftermath of the pandemic.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute report notes, the future of the workplace will bring more hybrid and remote work. This means a significant transition for companies, with roles and responsibilities becoming more fluid while increasing the need for accurate time management to get things done.
In remote or hybrid work environments, employees may have fewer chances to share updates with their team and collaborate to tackle obstacles. Project management software has become increasingly popular as it facilitates collaboration among teams working with a flexible schedule. It helps improve the overall structure of the workday, and coworkers know what to expect.
If you ever find yourself questioning your team’s accountability, take a moment to evaluate the current situation. Avoid sounding patronizing when expressing your concerns, so thoroughly consider your grievances before discussing them.
Clear communication and structured collaboration
Effective communication management is a crucial, yet, often overlooked aspect of success for project management or project-based work teams.
Mismanagement of time allocation and communication can completely derail a project, especially when tasks are interrelated and team members need to work together and communicate to get things done.
A big part of communication as a project manager is consistent timelines. Creating a communications schedule when working on your team’s time allocation ensures no extra time is wasted.
Knowing where your team allocates their time gives you insights into how to set up budgets for future projects. Plus, many creative agencies and companies adopt a time-based approach to billing their clients. Implementing a structured method to improve team time management can save you serious costs.
Picture this: You’ve completed the first phase of your budget, but you’ve completely run out of funding.
While this might be an extreme scenario, it can happen without a properly set project budget. With a little budget-tracking effort throughout the project, you can confidently continue allocating important tasks and checking off project phases.
Besides set-out project and task priorities, it’s also important that team members set their own priorities.
Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy shares that ten to twelve minutes spent planning and outlining the day can help save at least two hours of wasted time throughout the day.
When team members fail to keep track of what tasks must be completed, many important to-do list entries can fall through the cracks, costing the company more time, energy, and resources.
Tip: Procrastination is a reality present in the day-to-day of many. Read our guide on how to stop procrastinating.
Healthy work-life balance
Your team’s mental health and happiness can be negatively impacted by exhaustion and work-related stress on top of whatever might be going on in their personal life.
As a manager, it is also important to prioritize your team's well-being. Be mindful of the consequences of work-related stress on the team's functioning, such as reduced productivity or high turnover rates. It may be a warning sign if you notice a team member consistently working long hours. Try to monitor the situation, address the issue of overwork, and find a solution.
Clever time management skills and techniques make you work smarter instead of harder, leading to improved productivity and less stress on the team.
Effective team time management demands strategies and techniques to optimize task prioritization, minimize distractions, and maintain the team’s focus on achieving the desired outcomes.
Here are 15 team time management tips to help you out:
1. Set realistic expectations
Setting realistic expectations is essential to ensure that their efforts are aligned with the project's goals and timelines and that your team members don’t feel overwhelmed with the tasks on their plate.
Before setting expectations for the creative team, you should have a clear understanding of the project's scope, objectives, timelines, and constraints. This will help you determine what is achievable within the given time frame and resources.
Set deadlines that are achievable and realistic based on the team's workload, skills, and the project's complexity. Avoid setting unrealistic deadlines that can demotivate the team and compromise the quality of the work.
2. Plan and schedule
Let’s take creative teams as an example. One of the best things about running a creative team is seeing the ideas come to life during the production process and launching your client's (marketing) campaign.
But before the plan begins, you need to ensure that the plan and timeline are feasible. Do this by involving the entire creative team in the planning process. Discuss their ideas and suggestions, and consider their input while setting the project schedule. Plus, this will help them feel valued and invested in the project's success.
Planning and scheduling are also an integral part of the overall success of your company. Long-term goals are essential for the sustained success of any organization. Try to incorporate a strategic planning method to define a vision for the future of your business and team and identify goals and objectives. A big goal on the horizon might help your team allocate their time and resources better.
3. Encourage a good work-from-home setup
Work-from-home (WFH) setups have become somewhat of a norm. A remote work arrangement allows companies and teams to expand their pool of new talents, which might’ve not been possible if relocation was required. Online platforms such as Zoom, Slack, and Rodeo Drive help connect groups and drive collaboration.
However, WFH also comes with some challenges not everyone is cut out for working from home. Some might have a hard time staying productive or get distracted by family members or pets, contributing to more procrastination, or they might have a hard time balancing work and family.
Provide them with tips on how to keep workspaces organized by sharing best practices for keeping an office space at home conducive to work. Add a fun twist to this by holding a “best home workspace” contest and see who has the best setup that inspires team members.
4. Evaluate your process regularly
Evaluating the project's current state and workflow will help you and your team steer it in the right direction. There’s always room for improvement, even halfway through a project. Adjust the schedule based on the time required to complete tasks, and ask your team if the plan is still feasible for them.
On top of that, a short mid-way evaluation report will build trust between your stakeholders. Good project management reporting is a collaborative process, and showing stakeholders that their investment in the project is properly managed will strengthen the professional relationship.
5. Schedule breaks and rest
You want ultra-productive days for your team, and taking breaks might seem counterproductive. A consistent working schedule without a break can harm your team’s well-being. Instead of expecting instant replies in messages and continuous monitoring of project updates, give your team a break to catch their breath. If your turnover rate is high due to burnout and stress, it won’t be beneficial to your project and company.
Include catch-up time and downtime in your project schedule or a team activity unrelated to their daily tasks. If you work with teams in multiple locations or time zones, schedule emails or messages to pop up during working hours.
6. Use time-blocking techniques
Time is one of our most valuable assets. If your team struggles with endless to-do lists, long meetings, and procrastination, you might want to look into strategies and techniques to optimize your team’s time management.
Time blocking is a useful technique for managing several projects at once.
This method involves allocating specific time slots in your calendar for each task on your to-do list. The primary objective of this method is to increase productivity by dedicating undivided attention to a single task instead of multitasking and spreading yourself too thin across multiple tasks.
When scheduling tasks, there are two key factors to consider: timing and duration. For beginners to time blocking, accurately estimating task duration can be challenging. It's recommended to overestimate rather than underestimate to avoid unfinished work at the end of the day.
7. Allocate resources diligently
Managing projects can be overwhelming as countless tasks demand attention, making it challenging to determine which ones are the most critical. Additionally, allocating your team's time poorly can result in burnout.
To address these challenges, resource allocation is a crucial strategy. By developing a clear resource distribution plan, you can avoid overburdening your team and improve their satisfaction. This approach ensures that everyone has the necessary resources to complete their tasks on time.
A team that is organized tends to be happier and more productive. By allocating resources effectively, you can provide your team with a clear understanding of each member's responsibilities and tasks, promoting collaboration and reducing conflicts. But keep in mind that some tasks will require more time due to dependencies.
8. Analyze data
The truth lies in the data - well not all of it but it sure gives you insights into your current time management strategies and what you can improve in the future.
Real-time reporting can work wonders for you as you collect data while related activities are still ongoing. This allows you to access up-to-the-minute information on the status of projects and activities, in the most current and accurate form possible and take action if needed.
On the contrary, project performance reports are very high-level. An accurate visualization of the project will give you leverage during your next meeting. Overall, you want to provide your team and stakeholders with as much valuable information as possible to help others quickly gauge the success of a project.
9. Make it fun
Ease the pressure by setting time management challenges.
For example, create a leaderboard for your team with who has the best project time management skills or who’s best at sticking to deadlines. A rotating desk trophy will celebrate your team members.
10. Use a time-tracking method or tool
There are numerous advantages to tracking time on your projects with a tool. It enables you to calculate the total billable work hours of your employees, allowing you to generate and send out accurate invoices.
Additionally, monitoring activity levels increases transparency and provides insights into potential time wasters. Identifying such tasks can mitigate productivity leaks and optimize your team's efficiency.
Implementing a software tool will help you save time – ironically – by automatically logging time. Even better if a time-tracking tool is embedded in your project management software. If you work on projects and juggle multiple aspects, you want to know the impact of worked hours across budget and other project milestones.
Alternatively, you can track time manually but be aware that there is more room for errors with this approach. If doing it manually, you can use spreadsheets to create and monitor timesheets. But make sure to keep it consistent with an easy-to-use template to avoid confusion.
11. Encourage communication
Effective communication is key to maintaining team productivity. One way to improve team communication and employee time management is by introducing short meetings with a predetermined agenda. These project management meetings help ensure that every team member is on the same page regarding the top priorities for the week and day.
The frequency of these meetings can vary depending on the needs of the team. Some teams may prefer daily catch-ups, while others may find weekly meetings more effective. The goal here is to remind the team of their priorities while also identifying potential challenges that could impact a deadline.
To further support the team's productivity, team leaders should clearly communicate the top three to four projects that require the most attention within a specified timeframe.
12. Introduce time-tracking best practices
Introducing a new time-tracking method or system into your team's workflow can be difficult, particularly if it involves a significant change or affects day-to-day routines. This means that you need to give everyone, even in small teams, some time to adapt and ask questions.
Some team members who are new to time tracking may worry that it will reflect poorly on them or make them appear unproductive. It's important to reassure them that this is often not the case. Effective time management rewards good work, but unproductive time should be explored rather than penalized.
13. Hold feedback sessions
Organize a sit down with the complete team or hold small sessions so people can open up about their time management struggles.
Make this a recurring event in everyone’s schedule and keep notes on how to improve the schedule ahead.
14. Provide training
Cultivate a work culture where everyone feels comfortable and supported. Time tracking, for example, might be new to some members of your team and new hires might not be familiar with your strategies and techniques.
By providing training to your team, you can help them develop the time management skills they need to be more productive and efficient, ultimately leading to more successful projects and a happier, more motivated team.
Inadequate training can lead to poor time management. Use the training to introduce your strategy, quiz team members on their time management knowledge, and find out their preferred method.
15. Use project management software
To ensure that all team members benefit from time management, it's important to choose the right software solution. Consider the following criteria when searching for a time-tracking app:
- Ease of use: The software should be user-friendly with a straightforward interface that doesn't complicate day-to-day tasks.
- Scalability: As your team grows, the software should be scalable to accommodate additional users and include robust features with various access levels.
- Value for money: Monthly subscriptions can add up quickly. Look for a tool that offers the key features you need at a reasonable price per user per month.
We’ve mentioned how a project management tool can significantly improve your team’s time management.
At Rodeo, we are all about saving you time. Our platform is specifically created as an all-in-one tool to meet the needs of project-based teams without third-party integrations.
Manually tracking hours is time-consuming, especially when working on multiple projects simultaneously. Rodeo Drive saves you time and effort by automating time-tracking and managing hours across different projects. It also allows you to track your time in two ways: either starting a live timer on your "Time" tab, or logging a timecard after the fact. The platform then syncs recorded time to a budgeted activity, which allows your budget to update in real time.
According to Axell Avalon-Van Staveren, Brand Director at Digital Agency JaxX: “Getting a team of creatives to track exactly how much time they spend on each task used to be a big challenge. But Rodeo’s timer is so easy to use, that they rarely forget.”
Rodeo Drive offers a range of features that can help you manage your time more efficiently, including task tracking, resource management, planning, and invoicing. Here’s a look at Rodeo Drive’s most-loved features that help you manage time and resources:
Rodeo Drive compiles all of your team’s data into your “Reports” tab, giving you at-a-glance insights into your project spending, time registration, and employee productivity. Plus, you’re able to export this data as a CSV or Excel file in case you want to compile custom reports on your own.
Properly creating effective and realistic budgets is the key to project success. Rodeo Drive’s budgeting feature allows you to split your budget into phases and estimate the time and expenses required to complete the tasks.
Once you’ve finished your budget, you can send the estimate to your client for approval directly from Rodeo Drive, including your company’s branding and terms and conditions.
Got the green light? Get the team started on their tasks.
- Task management: In Rodeo Drive, tasks correlate to a budgeted activity, helping you manage the team’s productivity and project budget. Allocate tasks to those who are available and have matching skill sets. Efficiently managing everyone’s workload results in happy faces.
- Invoicing: Rodeo Drive’s invoicing feature allows you to send customizable invoices to clients via QuickBooks in the US and via Rodeo Drive or Xero in the UK. Users are able to invoice by project phase, estimate, or actuals.
- Quickbooks (US) and Xero (UK) Integration: Create a smooth bookkeeping and billing process.
- Multilanguage: Easily switch languages in Rodeo Drive by selecting Dutch or English under ‘Preferred language.’
- Flexible pricing: Instead of offering complicated pricing plans that charge you by feature set, users can access all of Rodeo Drive's features for a flat fee of $14.99 per user/month. We also offer a Free plan with more limited feature offerings.