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Thursday, 07 August 2014 15:00

Project Management: 3 Things That Changed My Company for the Better Featured

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As an executive of a small business, you already keep close track of your company’s resources, including capital, employees, and facilities. But what about employees’ time? Time is difficult to quantify and track, and as such, many executives mistakenly treat time as if it were a limitless resource. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

A recent study by McKinsey found that only 9% of executives were “very satisfied” with how employees’ time was currently allocated. In addition, almost half of executives said that their current time allocation didn’t align with the company’s objectives. And the average office worker can tell you that far too much company time is spent on trivial tasks, such as responding to emails and attending non-essential meetings.

Effective time management is critical to the productivity and profitability of your business. So, how can businesses improve time management? It isn’t as easy as just telling employees to use their time more effectively. Instead, the leadership team needs to build a corporate culture that actively supports effective time management across the whole organization.

A Zen Culture

Multitasking is a major buzzword in the business world. Employees are expected to be able to effectively juggle multiple tasks at once, and so managers fill their work hours with various projects, meetings, and corporate activities. However, studies are increasingly proving that multitasking is ineffective. In fact, Stanford researchers proved that multitaskers have poor organizational skills, are easily distracted, and often lack focus. Really, scientific research overall points to mixed results. 

So, if multitasking is (probably) not the key to effective time management, then what is? The answer is energy and prioritization. According to the Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, "energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance." Along that same line, this article from Lifehack gives the advice that, "if you spend 20-40 minutes on each task/ activity/ item on your “to do” list, then you’re being productive, efficient, and you’ll probably make your day more interesting and varied." 

To improve productivity, employers should do everything they can to cultivate an energizing environment for their employees. Depending on the personalities, this may mean silence and privacy for employees, or this might even mean doing a little office rearranging. Whenever possible, managers should avoid burdening their employees with multiple tasks or distracting them with unnecessary emails and phone calls. Many employees also benefit from having private offices, rather than working in noisy cubicle farms.

Fewer, More Effective Meetings

One of the biggest scourges to effective time-management is the corporate meeting. The average meeting takes up valuable time and interrupts employee flow-mode, while generating very little in the way of meaningful results. According to a Microsoft survey, ineffective meetings are among the top time wasters in the average workweek. Additionally, employees spend almost six hours each week in meetings, and 69% of employees feel like these meetings are unproductive.

To better manage company time, executives should only schedule meetings that are absolutely necessary. Meetings should have a specific purpose: to make a decision or solve a problem. There should be a detailed agenda of issues to be discussed and in what order, and the amount of time allotted to each. If a meeting is only designed to impart information, consider sending out an email instead. Many meetings can also be made optional, so if an employee is hitting their energy/prioritization stride, he or she can opt out of the interruption.

Time Tracking

Every executive knows that in order for a company to move forward, there needs to be a clearly defined set of objectives and goals for the future. However, just laying out these objectives isn’t enough. Too often, executives and their employees become mired in day-to-day tasks and never find the time to advance long-term goals. This is where integrated, electronic time tracking comes in.

Effective electronic time tracking systems should capture costs as well as the time spent for each individual employee and project, and then integrate this information into a comprehensive view of company time allocation. In this way, you can determine whether your company’s current time allocation aligns with your company objectives. As with any resource, correctly allocating time will reduce waste and facilitate company growth. 

Having trouble encouraging your employees to take the first step and fill out their time sheets? One Minnesota ad agency, Colle + McVoy even went so far as to create these off-the-cuff internal posters by their employees and for their employees, not only allowing for a culture of ease and humor, but of prioritization as well.

Peter Drucker, the legendary management consultant, once said, “Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.” In the business world, time is precious, and it is in every employer’s best interest to promote a corporate culture that measures, manages, and values it.   

About the Author: Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Journyx strives to be relentlessly creative and to build tools that help you spend your time on things that matter. After all, time is all we have. Founded in 1996, Journyx offers customers two solutions to reach the highest levels of profitability: Journyx – project, time and expense tracking software – and Journyx PX – resource management software that provides work and financial forecasting for a complete picture of project and budget status, employee time and availability. Connect with Curt on Google+.

Read 22061 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 August 2014 17:15

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx. Founded in 1996, Journyx automates payroll, billing and cost accounting while easing management of employee time and expenses, and provides confidence that all resources are utilized correctly and completely. Curt can be found on Twitter at @CurtFinch and on Google+ at +CurtFinch.

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