May 5, 2014

Team Management

Live to work or work to live. Part 9. TM-bacillus: how to convey the idea of time management to other people

By Alexander Sergeev

Live to work or work to live. Part 8. Time consumers: how to find time reserves

We can not be 100% effective, if we do not co-ordinate our personal time-management with other people – colleagues, leaders, subordinates, relatives, clients etc. Due to the mutual respect for the time we can escape loosing this precious resource in vain. With the competent coordination with colleagues, we can achieve better results at lower costs.

TM for the boss

If you are not a businessman or a “free artist”, one of the key factors affecting your time is your leader. It happens that the head is not really attentive to the time. How to make him to respect time more?

Show your time-management tools “in action”. Show your overview schedule of regular tasks at the meeting; come to boss rarely, but with already prepared written list of questions etc. The interest in the tools you use is a good way to arise interest in time management .

Start with a list of inexpensive useful tools for the boss. If your TM offers start with laptops and equipping of the staff with the Pocket PCs, they are unlikely to be heard. It’s better to ask the head to make a simple plan board, a schedule of regular tasks etc. Give the head free tools to increase accountability, manageability, predictability of work.

Remember the main thing. It is your task to take care that it is comfortable for the head to work with you. His time is more expensive than yours, his comfort is more important for the company. If you think otherwise – no problem, establish your own business. Then the inconvenience associated with the  presence of the boss will be replaced with others, much more serious inconveniences. But it will be a different story.

Subordinates: “voluntary” strategy

Before you settle TM- bacillus in the bright minds of your employees, let’s clearly distinguish a few different things:

  1. Personal time management, which people apply voluntarily.
  2. Team / corporate time management – mandatory for all employees of the company time management standards.
  3. Normal regular management – issues of distribution of functions, responsibilities, projects and tasks among employees, motivation and control etc.

We’re only talking about points 1 and 2. General management issues of subordinates are not included in the competence of time management. Your challenge now is narrower: to instill in employees effective self-organization skills.

First you need to involve internal, voluntary resources and only then – external resources of coercion.

The first step is to show a personal example. It is difficult to overestimate the effectiveness of this method. Show and not declare organization, punctuality, respect for time of your colleagues and subordinates.

Efficiency of the subordinates ultimately works on your results and your success, so do not consider it shameful for yourself as a leader to show respect to the time of your subordinates.

The second step is to create motivation for the use of the TM techniques, understanding why you need time control.

Even if your employees do not receive material benefits from time management, they can agree with the following arguments:

  • More comfort in the performance of work due to its more competent organization.
  • Reducing the risks associated with the failure to comply with deadlines set by the leadership.
  • Ability to leave work earlier.

The third step is to move in small steps, but rhythmically. Suggest new techniques to the subordinates regularly, at least once a week. The simpler and clearer these techniques are – the better.

Subordinates: “forced” strategy

Sometimes the implementation of time management can not be done without “administrative resource”. How to use it better?

1. It’s better to use “less” tools, but make them mandatory. Do not attempt to build a global system of the universal time management. For the first steps of the implementation of time management well suit:

  • Any planning board.
  • Appointments or planning.
  • Overview tables of regular tasks.
  • Forms of meetings.

2. Devise simple and quick “sticks and carrots”. Ideology is exactly the same as in the personal work: small and preferably immediately used rewards and punishments.

3. Use pilot projects. A pilot project is a very useful technique. Try the technique on one employee or one unit in one area of activity. This will allow you to understand the pros and cons of the technique in actual practice with minimal time and effort.

And finally – the main principle: count the cost of your time, and the value of time of the department. Try to express it in money. And fight for time no less stringent than for the money.

Time management in personal relationships

Time management for personal and family relationships is not easy. Formal schedule here is hardly to be implemented. You must be able to negotiate. There are a few simple principles as a basis for such arrangements.

1. “We are together” does not mean “we do the same things”. The most difficult and the most important thing in any relationship is not to try to impose your preferences to the partner, seek compromises that allow to take into account the tastes of both sides.

2. Everyone should have the time for himself. It’s especially important to allocate time for your “resource activity”, i.e. something that helps you to restore energy and efficiency – reading fiction, roller skating, playing the piano etc.

3. Principles of the relationships should be spoken explicitly. Do not be afraid to verbalize or even write down the principles of mutual understanding and relationships. Most conflicts occur because two people have different principles in the minds, and everyone thinks his ones are evident and correct. The bad news is they are not evident and may differ from yours.

With regard to the planning and organization techniques – here we can use all the same approaches as in business. The main thing is to agree on principles, on this basis the desired organizational and technical solutions exist easily.

Children and time

Learning time management is as necessary as learning swimming and reading: the sooner, the better. If not in kindergarten, then at least from the middle or early school age.

For students and high school students you do not need to invent anything special. They tend to perceive the “adult” technologies with great interest. For primary school age you need to introduce more game elements.

It’s recommended to start with the following technologies:

  • Self-motivation – procrastination and delaying of important tasks in the children’s time management is usually the key issue.
  • Overview of the daily affairs.
  • Planning good marks using overview tables.

Another important area of school TM – time planning in preparing for exams. Realistic approach is as follows:

  • Define objectively how many hours per day the child can study.
  • Divide the workload at this time budget (40 tickets, 5 days, 10 hours a day – the real figure is “1 hour for 1 ticket” plus a reserve of 10 hours).
  • Workload management: every hour – 5 min. active pause after each 3-4-hour block of work – change the activity (go to the store, walk etc.).

Ninth step of creating personal TM system

Convey “TM- bacillus” to others, for them to be more reasonable in use of their time and yours.

Summary of recommendations:

  • TM- offering ideas for your supervisor, show their usefulness for business.
  • Encourage time management of subordinates with your personal example.
  • Enforce introducing TM techniques, do it in small steps but regulary.
  • Use small immediate “sticks and carrots”.
  • Use pilot projects.
  • Offer time management for children in the form of games, developing a “proactive” approach to life.

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