Struggling with Time Management?
A Kick-ass Way to Get the Most Out of Your Staff’s Day
To make sure that the content we create is relevant, up-to-date, and truly valuable, we collate and review feedback from all of our workshops about what our learners are enjoying, but also about what struggles they are facing at work.
Recently, we have seen that one of the biggest challenges that leaders and managers are currently experiencing is time management.
There are many different aspects of time management that we will be covering in our ‘Struggling with Time Management?’ series. In today’s article, we combine two simple time management models, Pareto's 80:20 Law and the Pomodoro Method, to create a kick-ass way to get the most out of time, which you can pass on to all of your managers and leaders to implement not only for themselves but for their staff too.
Pareto’s 80:20 Law
Pareto’s Law suggests that 80% of the output comes from 20% of the input. This famous ratio can be seen everywhere in day-to-day life - for example, 80% of traffic comes from 20% of cars - and can be applied to work too.
80% of employees’ output comes from 20% of the work they do. To use this law to their advantage, managers and leaders should encourage their employees to write out all of the tasks they have to do, put them in order of priority, and then get rid of the bottom 80%.
For example, if Joe Bloggs had 25 tasks on his to-do list, he would get rid of the bottom 20 and focus on the top 5.
If scrapping 80% of a to-do list is too daunting or intimidating, a list of those tasks can be kept somewhere safe so that staff can refer to them if they need to, but you’ll be surprised by how little that happens.
The 80:20 principle can then be applied again on the top 20% of tasks; 64% of the output comes from 4% of the input. This narrows down the tasks to the very most important one(s).
For example, Joe Bloggs could apply the 80:20 principle to his 5 remaining tasks, giving him 1 top task to focus on.
Implementing this method helps ensure that staff are spending time on their highest value and top priority tasks, rather than on the easy or enjoyable ones that may not matter in the long run or have much of an impact on the company’s overarching goals.
As well as being used to identify top tasks to focus on, Pareto's Law can also be applied to time itself.
Nobody can work at 100% for an entire day so using Pareto's Law to identify the top 20% of our work day where we are the most productive means that we can allocate this time to our most important tasks.
If Joe Bloggs worked 5 hours a day, his most productive 20% (1 hour) may be between 7-8am, so he would do his most important work then.
Paretos’ Law is not only beneficial for staff, but also for managers and leaders themselves. To be truly effective, leaders should focus on the top 20% (or even 4% if they apply the 80:20 law twice) of their to-do list, and then get rid of or delegate the rest.
The Pomodoro Method
After applying Pareto’s 80:20 Law, staff know which tasks they should focus on and when they should work on them, so then it’s time to use the Pomodoro Method to get those top tasks done in the most effective way.
The Pomodoro Method, developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, suggests that the best way of working and staying focused is to:
- Identify the top priority task (using Pareto’s Law)
- Set a 25 minute timer
- Work on the task for 25 minutes (this 25 minute period is called a ‘pomodoro’)
- Take a 5 minute break
- Then every 4 pomodoros, take a 15-30 minute break
Cirillo came up with this method when he was struggling to focus on his university assignments. He got himself to commit just 10 minutes at a time of purely focused studying, and then took a break. He timed these 10 minutes using a tomato-shaped kitchen timer - hence the name ‘Pomodoro’ (Italian for tomato) - and found that this way of working helped him complete his work much more efficiently.
To get the most out of the Pomodoro Method, it’s best to:
- Break tasks down into smaller subtasks if they would require more than 4 pomodoros to complete
- Combine small, simple, quick tasks into one pomodoro to help prevent procrastination
- Don’t break focus during pomodoros - try to avoid distractions like mobile phones
Using time more effectively by implementing Pareto’s Law and the Pomodoro Method is the epitome of working smarter, not harder and is essential to getting the most out of staff’s and one's own time.
How to Improve Your Leaders and Managers’ Time Management and Overall Effectiveness
Good time management is just one of the many skills of an effective leader, along with:
- Managing projects and minimising risk
- Effective delegation
- Ability to build trust and rapport
- Successfully implementing change
If your leaders and managers are missing formal training in any of these areas, have you considered taking advantage of the incredible funded training scheme?
We can currently claim funding to cover 95% of the cost of our leadership and management apprenticeships, meaning that your company only pays 5%. We currently provide 2 leadership and management apprenticeship programmes:
If either of these programmes are of interest to you, you can download our apprenticeship brochures by clicking here, or request a call with one of our training experts here to take advantage of this unmissable funding.
Until next time...