How many hours have you been toiling away before you started reading this article? Was this pause planned? What will your next task be once you finish here? Before you start desperately trying to put out fires once again, take some time to think about how you deal with time management. If time is money, then every professional should consistently utilize employee time tracking to monitor the number of hours invested. This is especially the case for people who are in a management position, coordinating a team. So, it’s a good opportunity to invest some time to think about time management and employee time tracking at your company and help yourself get rid of the impression that there is never enough time to take care of everything.
The example of executive super-moms
To illustrate the quotidian drama of the day-to-day rush, let’s start with an example. One of the busiest figures in the corporate world and one that could always use some extra time is the executive mom. Many people believe that this stereotype of a wonder woman who can do everything is illusory, but we can nevertheless draw some lessons from women who have decided to embrace these two, often-conflicting worlds, motherhood and fast-track careers and succeeding without sacrificing their personal lives.
Laura Vanderkan, the best-selling author of books such as 168 Hours and What The Most Successful People Do, looked into these women’s routines to find out how they managed their time and turned over some productivity and time management myths along the way. The interesting thing is that the book’s recommendations are not just for working mothers, they are for mothers, fathers and people who don’t even have kids, as long as they think they work too hard and have no time for themselves.
One of the greatest myths is that people must choose between building a successful career and spending time with their families. Ms. Vanderkan analyzed the working hours of more than 150 women earning six-figure salaries. The result is that, on average, they work 44 hours a week, only ten more than the national average for women in the United States. In other words, they are not working themselves to death; they are instead focusing on making that extra time really make a difference.
Are you sure you’re really working that much?
Executive mothers are not the only ones who are affected by the difference between the number of hours actually worked and the perception of the amount of time invested at work. John Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey focus on this disparity in their book, Time for Life. According to their research, people are bad at estimating the real amount of time they spend at work, discovering that people who claim to work from 50 to 59 hours a week actually work between 40 and 49 hours. People who say that they work from 60 to 74 hours, work, on average, 15 fewer hours. And people who believe that they work more than 75 hours per week usually work 25 hours less.
It’s not that people aren’t getting home late or working weekends. The book presents studies that show that people usually “round up” the number of hours they are working. That is why, it is essential to have a firm control of employee time tracking.
>> Recommended Reading: 5 Steps to Achieving Better Results through Productivity Management
Tips to make the most of the hours worked
Employee time tracking has to do with being really present and focusing on the task at hand. Laura Vanderkan shared some valuable tips for making every hour count in this article in Fortune magazine.
1. What will be your three principal achievements in a given day?
Plan your day in such a manner that, in the end, you have accomplished at least three major tasks. This method will force you to place more importance on prioritizing your list of tasks. It is worth re-reading this article on prioritizing tasks to understand the idea a bit better. And what would be the best way to optimize this process of prioritization? Runrun.it, which is a work management automation tool, allows you to distribute tasks to your teams, while prioritizing them in the most efficient way, estimating the effort involved in each, scheduling repetitive activities and changing the order of priorities, if need be.
In addition to highlighting the importance and urgency of necessary tasks, professionals need to pay attention to how much smaller chores are stealing time from the important things. And speaking about less important tasks, our next tip is about exactly that.
2. Are you really the one who is supposed to do that?
Carefully categorize strategic and operational tasks. Do you really need to go to that meeting (see this manual on effective meetings)? Does constantly checking your inbox and reading all those e-mails really accomplish anything? Take a good look at your routine to identify less important tasks, which are often easier to accomplish and give you a feeling of productivity. In reality, sometimes they are preventing you from focusing on more important tasks which need your intervention. By mapping activities, you can delegate some, automate others, and in some cases simply eliminate them from your schedule. This is how to actively and effectively manage and track time.
Runrun.it, for example, can be extremely useful in these circumstances. It is a tool can help you manage your day-to-day tasks by automating processes, avoiding micromanagement, and optimizing your time.
3. Set aside some time to waste time
There’s no doubt that we need to be aware of incoming voicemails and e-mails. But if we spend our days focused on them, our time will never become fully productive. We mustn’t let these distractions (which sometimes get mixed up with work) take over our day and prevent us from focusing on the important tasks that we need to tackle.
Therefore, dedicate some time in your day which is separate from the major tasks you need to be your focus. This unallocated time will help you take care of the occasional surprise without disrupting your focus, and prevent the little things from causing your work to suffer with the unending flow of minor distractions.
Teachers, for example, set aside specific times for talking to parents. On-duty doctors schedule times for addressing patients’ questions. Professionals can do the same sort of thing, setting aside small blocks of time for taking care of any unexpected demands on their time.
Those blocks of time should also factor in time for breaks in your schedule, since none of us, at least so far, are machines. Runrun.it can help with employee time tracking in at least two ways. Using the tool, you can better avoid distractions and minimize the risk of losing data in that endless stream of e-mails and messages in WhatsApp groups. This is because all of your team’s communications are formalized and managed by the system. It also allows the creation of ongoing tasks, which are carried out frequently and take up time in specific demands, with having a set delivery date.
4. Plan your schedule for the week, not the day
Planning your day is fundamental, but professionals who are really concerned with time can’t stop there. Pay close attention to your managing your weekly activities, focusing primarily on workflows.
To structure your workflow and focus on employee time tracking, you can break down your tasks into smaller blocks, thereby mapping out the ideal trajectory. It is also a good time to review organizational charts with people’s positions and functions, as well as job descriptions and a flow chart mapping your company’s demands and projects.
Does everything look right on paper? If so, make sure that everyone else on your team is aware of what needs to be done. This is another area in which Runrun.it can help. With it, you delegate tasks and closely monitor their execution.
5. Make timesheet your biggest ally
As long as you lack a real awareness of how you invest your time, it will be extremely difficult to make the necessary changes to your schedule. One of Runrun.it’s principal capabilities is the creation and management of automatic and easy-to-understand timesheets. Besides contributing to the planning and prioritization of tasks, the tool allows you to take control of the hours worked on projects and by team, giving an accurate accounting of where you are spending your valuable time.
With this data, managers can generate cost reports, define prices for projects, and calculate a team’s profitability. Another benefit of the system is that employee time tracking helps your management to become more efficient and productive without getting lost in unending tables and spreadsheets. After all, employee time tracking is supposed to make you more efficient, not less so.
Start tracking your team’s hours now
Imagine the impact of a system that lets you simply hit play, pause or stop, just like when you’re streaming music. Using the platform, every member of your team will be recording their tasks, making employee time tracking that much simpler and agile. Then combine that capacity with the possibility of generating instant reports and rapid analysis to aid in decision making. Sign up now for a free trial and make every hour count: http://runrun.it.