Struggling with Time Management?
Effective Time Allocation: What It is and Why It Matters
Do your leaders and managers know what time allocation is? Do they know how to do it effectively? Have they implemented it in their teams?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, this article is for you.
Making the most of time is all about deciding how to best use it. Time allocation is a great strategy that your managers and leaders can implement in their teams to better manage employees’ time and increase productivity.
The Three Types of Time Allocation
1. Day Theming
Day theming, as the name suggests, is about assigning a ‘theme’ to each day. For example, focusing on finance every Monday, meetings on Tuesday, software development on Wednesday, article writing on Thursday, and social media marketing on Friday. By assigning different types of tasks to separate days, staff have to make fewer cognitive switches between focusing on different things. However, day theming doesn’t allow much flexibility which, especially in today’s fast-paced and unpredictable world, may not work for all teams.
2. Time Blocking
Time blocking involves grouping similar tasks together and then allocating time to complete these all in one go. As with day theming, time blocking means not having to do as many mindset switches; however, unlike day theming, time blocking allows more flexibility as it typically allocates only a few hours to tasks rather than a whole day.
When grouping tasks together, it’s important to group them by process rather than output. For example, emails may have different outcomes but reading and categorising them is just one set process. There are many categories that tasks can be grouped into, including, for example:
- Article writing
- Creating graphics
3. Time Boxing
Time boxing allows the same flexibility as time blocking, but it means allocating time to work on more long term tasks or projects; time blocking is about completing tasks, time boxing is about making progress on tasks. Time boxing provides an extremely high level of focus as, whilst projects often involve different types of tasks, they are all focused on achieving the same outcome.
Why Should Managers and Leaders Implement Time Allocation in Their Teams?
When we allocate dedicated time to a task, we psychologically commit to it and are therefore much more likely to actually get the task done than if we just say to ourselves ‘I’ll do it later’. This helps keep staff productive and makes them less reactive to requests from others, helping them say ‘no’ as they have already committed that time to a specific task.
By being able to focus on one task, or one type of task, at a time, staff are more likely to achieve ‘deep work’. Deep work, a concept coined by Cal Newport and explored in one of our previous articles, is when we have solid concentration and focus on one thing at a time and give it all of our attention. Having this deep concentration encourages creativity and allows for a wider scope of thought, enabling staff to focus on the details of the task at hand, but also the bigger picture.
When starting new projects, it can often be difficult to know where to start. However, allocating time to begin the project encourages staff to just get started, rather than spending too long planning and not actually doing. Once they have completed the allocated time, they will also have a better idea of how long the entire project will take. As we explored in a previous article, Parkinson’s Law states that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion", meaning that however much time is allocated to a task, it will take up all of that time, so it’s crucial for leaders to make sure that their staff are allocating reasonable times to their tasks and projects.
Once we start assigning time to specific tasks and projects, we suddenly have much more awareness of how we are spending our time, making it easier to identify why we may feel like we never have enough time, and how we can change that.
How to Get the Most from Time Allocation
While time allocation is relatively simple, there are a few best practices and tips that leaders and managers should know to make sure that their staff get the most from time allocation, including:
- Remove Distractions
As we explored in a previous article, getting the most from time requires a clear, undistracted headspace so it’s crucial to be aware of the common time traps that employees often fall into without even realising, and know how to save them from these distractions. This can be done in many ways, including encouraging Do Not Disturb (DND) time, and having dedicated focus rooms where others know not to disturb the member of staff.
- Encourage Breaks
Nobody can, or should, work at 100% all of the time so encouraging staff to take breaks is vital to preventing burnout. As we explained in our article ‘A Kick-ass Way to Get the Most Out of Your Staff’s Day’, the Pomodoro Method is fantastic for encouraging focused work but also regular breaks.
- Be Prepared for Plans to Change
Whilst planning is great for organising projects and keeping them on track, plans aren’t set in stone - they aren’t a binding contract and they can change. For example, a member of staff may plan to work on creating a new marketing brochure from 2-3pm and then reply to emails from 3-3:30pm. However, if it gets to 3pm and they are in flow, in the right mindset, and getting a lot done, they should be encouraged to carry on with that task - almost no email has to be actioned immediately; if it was that urgent, the person would call, not email. Likewise if an employee gets stuck on a task and isn’t getting anywhere with it but the deadline is still a while away, leaders should encourage them to start working on something else, let their subconscious work, and then come back to it later.
Time allocation not only benefits the company as it enables them to get the most from their staff, it also benefits the individual as being productive and feeling like they know what they’re doing is a great example of intrinsic motivation.
Are Your Leaders and Managers Truly Motivating Their Staff?
Staff engagement and motivation is critical for organisational success but can be extremely difficult to achieve and maintain. These statistics collated by teamstage.io speak for themselves:
- Just under 1 in 5 employees worldwide feel properly engaged
- Companies with actively motivated employees realise a 27% higher profit
- Engaged employees are 87% less likely to resign from their companies
- $450 billion is lost in the US every year due to having unmotivated employees
- One in three professionals cite boredom as the main reason for quitting
On Thursday 30th September 2021, we are holding a free webinar about ‘Properly Motivating Those You Manage’.
This webinar will help your leaders and managers increase team morale and create a more motivated workforce by exploring:
- What motivation really means
- New ways to motivate people
- How to match motivators to each person in their team
You can sign up your leaders and managers or copy the link to forward to them for this free webinar by clicking here.
Until next time...