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Published on January 14, 2021

Why Is Time Management Important For Peak Productivity?

Why Is Time Management Important For Peak Productivity?

Imagine you inherit a million dollars. After you splurge on something special, what’s the first thing you would do with your money? Any good financial advisor would encourage you to make a plan for managing your inheritance. Maybe you’ll put the cash in savings. Maybe you’ll invest some of it in stocks. Either way, without a strategy in place, your money may not last too long.

The same is true with your time. Now, more than ever, learning how to effectively manage your time is crucial for setting yourself apart in the workplace. In a 2016 survey, executives reported that time management skills and the ability to prioritize tasks are some of the most desired skills among workers.[1]

But why is time management important?

Simply put, working harder doesn’t always equal productivity. You can work endless hours, but you won’t achieve much if you don’t manage that time well. In the words of Dr. Alexander Margulis, author of The Road to Success: A Career Manual – How to Advance to the Top, “Long hours are not a substitute for efficiency.”

Are you ready to work smarter so you can improve your productivity? Here are 5 reasons why time management is one of the most important skills to hone in the workplace.

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1. It Keeps You Focused on What Matters

Every Sunday night, I sit down in my office and plot out the course of my week. After determining what I need to accomplish in a week’s time, I plan the structure of each day according to my energy and creativity levels.

For example, I’m usually most productive right after breakfast, so I like to set aside a few hours then for head-down, focused work on timely tasks and projects.

I like to think of time management as creating a budget. Just as devising a plan for my finances keeps me from blowing my money, devising a strategy for my time prevents me from wasting the minutes and hours that make up my workday, which, in the long-haul, ultimately supports my productivity.

Here is another reason why it’s so important to budget your time. The typical workday is full of interruptions and potential distractions—from last-minute meeting requests to the personal demands that come with working from home. Failing to set priorities at the start of a day or week encourages you to move from task to task, reacting to whatever comes up instead of focusing on what actually needs to be done.[2]

When you set priorities and allot your time accordingly, you’ll ensure that you don’t fall behind on your “must-dos,” and you’ll have more time and mental capacity to face and resolve the interruptions along the way.

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2. It Reduces Stress

Like most of us, when I first began in my industry, I was just happy to have a job. To make sure I kept my job—and that I kept growing in my skills so I could get ahead—I often said “yes” to just about every request that came my way. Whether someone needed help with a personal project or wanted my opinion on an idea, I couldn’t miss out.

While this approach certainly helped me build relationships, it also compromised my ability to be productive. But that’s not the only negative effect that my career “FOMO” had. A lack of boundaries (in other words, an inability to say “no”) can increase your stress levels, which can take a toll on your mental and physical health.

So, while a lack of time management might initially give you the impression of productivity, over time, you will inevitably lose steam and burn out. On the other hand, approaching your work with strategy and clear goals enhances your ability to get things done and protects your well-being. Remember that the healthiest version of yourself is also the most valuable player in the workplace.[3]

3. It Helps You to Be Present

A few years ago, during a stressful season at work, a colleague approached me in the office to ask for help on figuring out a bug. I answered her in a rush—without looking up from my computer—because I was so crunched for time. To be honest, I still think about that interaction today. Not only did I miss an opportunity to contribute to a project in a meaningful way, but I also missed out on the opportunity to build trust and rapport in a workplace relationship.

Decisiveness is one of the most important components of getting things done in a timely way. A lack of time management skills can interfere with your ability to think clearly, which, unfortunately, can set you back in your work considerably. But in my experience, constantly being pressed for time also interferes with being present and engaged in work relationships, which is an important part of being productive at work.

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4. It Enhances Your Creativity

Another reason why time management is important is that it helps enhance your creativity. Productivity is, of course, a vital component of succeeding in your work. But crossing items off your to-do list isn’t the only part of the success equation.

Moving forward also requires innovation and creative thinking—both of which require brain space you simply won’t have if you’re wasting too much time on petty distractions.

Experts agree that multitasking or hopping between tasks isn’t an effective way to work because it compromises your ability to do one thing with excellence. For example, let’s say you’re on the phone with a client and you check your email at the same time. While you’re listening to someone talk, your visual cortex becomes less active, so your brain can’t process what they’re saying if you’re looking at something.[4] As minute as it sounds, you won’t be too productive if you’re trying to juggle different tasks at the same time.

If you manage your time effectively, you’ll be able to focus on what’s in front of you and get things done more efficiently. But you’ll also be able to take more breaks to replenish your mental reserves and, ultimately, give your best at work.[5]

5. It Also Helps You Grow in Other Areas

As with any positive growth, getting better at time management requires developing new skills, including self-awareness, strategy and planning, and adaptability.[6] These skills directly contribute to time management, but they can also cross over into other areas, which will ultimately enable you to be more productive in your work and life.

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For example, when you’re more self-aware about what you want to accomplish, you can set clearer goals—a skill that will ultimately help you avoid distractions. And when you grow and improve in your strategic thinking skills, you’ll also get better at creatively tackling problems that pop up at work.

The point is that by honing the skill of time management, you are not only adding structure to your day but you are also becoming a better worker for the long haul. In my opinion, that’s always a worthwhile investment.

Final Thoughts

Paradoxically, getting better at time management takes time. That’s why it isn’t second-nature for most of us to stay on track and focused. If you’re short on time as it is, using precious spare hours in your day to strategically plan your schedule might seem counterproductive. But the extra work to audit and adjust your time is almost always worthwhile.

By working hard to implement a routine that maximizes your effectiveness and productivity, you’ll see clear and immediate benefits in your career and, ultimately, in your mental and physical well-being. In my opinion, any growth that empowers you to be the person you want to be is always a worthwhile investment.

More Reasons Why Time Management Is Important

Featured photo credit: JanFillem via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Aytekin Tank

Founder and CEO of JotForm, sharing entrepreneurship and productivity tips at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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