How to manage your working time effectively?

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Employees quite often deal with their private issues at work. Short phone calls, regular visits to social networking sites, or lengthy chats at lunch are just a few examples of wasting the working time. How to manage it effectively?

1st Commandment: Thou shall not waste!

 

A survey done by portal praca.wp.pl concerning the managing of the work time presented some worrying results. Although over a half of the respondents said that they don't have any possibilities of dealing with their private matters at work, as much as 25% sadmitted to visiting social networking sites or even playing computer games at work. A considerable number of respondents said that they take frequent breaks (about 7%) and lengthy lunch breaks (about 2%).

Contrary to what may seem, wasting work time for private matters is a serious negligence on the part of an employee. The employment relationship - according to Article 22 § 1 of Labour Code - obliges an employee to perform the work entrusted in the time and place designated by the employer. Using the work time for activities not related to the official duties may incur serious loses to the employer.

Employer's loses may be of financial nature but not only; it can take the form of reduced psychological efficiency of the employee or a damage to the company's image. - emphasises Agata Jakuszko, an interpersonal skills coach, agata-jakuszko.pl. I have to admit, that if an employee performs all the assigned tasks, I can't see a reason why he or she wouldn't have a look at the favourite social networking site. However, dealing with personal issues (or even thinking about them) extorts constant switching attention between one activity and another. As a result, an employee might be distracted, what has a direct influence on his or her personal effectiveness. - she adds.

 

Negligence of the official duties may be the basis to a dismissal without notice (according to Article 52 § 1 point 1 of Labour Code). Therefore, it is worth considering if sending a private text message or visiting a social networking site is important enough to risk dismissal.

 

Get rid of "time devourers"

 

Paradoxically, new technologies serve wasting of the work time. Constant Internet access, smartphones with advanced functions or other technological gadgets available in a work place may be powerful distractors while performing the official duties. Internet communicator which is on, regular checking of a private e-mail or even making private bank transfers in the work place effectively distract employee's attention from the official duties.

Then what is the recipe to deal with technological "time devourers"? The key to success is self-discipline. Only consequent elimination of unnecessary situations will allow for making fully efficient use of the time spent in the company.

If you make a decision (e.g. to keep your surrounding in order, hence saving some time on looking for things) and stick to it , you not only face your duties more efficiently. – says Agata Jakuszko. A good time management sometimes reduces stress and raises our general sense of satisfaction. It allows to fully use the day – you find time not only for the things you have to do, but also for those, which please you.

Effective time management is also in the employer’s interest. Therefore, the employer has the right to take some actions in order to reduce the possibility of dealing with matters unrelated to the employee's work.

More and more often employers use the technological solutions to secure e.g. Internet access. Specialistic blockades of the websites and e-mail accounts which are not indispensable while performing official duties are effective tools in a fight with employees wasting time. Those more suspicious employers may install software that allows constant monitoring of the effectiveness of employees. In the extreme cases, there may also be used tracking devices, like GPS in the company car or phone call recorder.

Abovementioned solutions are undoubtedly working, but on the other hand, quite restrictive. Depending on the nature of work, as well as on the attitude of the employee to the official duties, in some cases reasonable management rules are enough to combat employees wasting time.

Creating „to do” lists everyday is a very useful method. Such a check list is presented to an employee at the beginning of the work day. Clear expectations and a defined deadline are helpful, especially in the positions where the duties are defined rather vaguely. – suggests Agata Jakuszko.

Start managing your time effectively

Despite all efforts on the part of the employer, a combat with wasting time by employees may end in a fiasco if the employees themselves will not show any initiative. If there is no initiative, it may be a signal that the principles of work organization in the company may be unsatisfactory for the employees.

A great many things depend on the organizational culture – emphasises Agata Jakuszko. One ought to take into consideration, that if the employees are not convinced that their work is valuable and they shouldn’t deal with their private matters in the work time, no repressions will be effective. It is worth taking into account the culture and atmosphere at work and inform the employees about the importance of fulfilling their duties.

If the organizational culture doesn’t raise any objections, the success in effective time management at work is fully dependent on the good will of the employee.

There is a number of effective time management methods and their realization is not difficult at all. Creating some everyday rituals is one of them. Previously the employee first of all used to check the private email and news on the social networking sites, now getting familiar with the plan of action for the day and sending replies to overdue business messages would be the first in line. Establishing a few habits and implementing them consequently is a major help in the effective time management.

When you are planning your day, use the ABC rule. It will allow for ordering the tasks by priority. Therefore, it will be obvious which tasks need more attention and which can wait.

In order to effectively manage the work time, you have to remember about the proper day plan. We are only humans and it is impossible to work full eight hours with 100% efficiency. Moreover, we should bear in mind that some unexpected situations may occur and in case of a fully planned day, the whole careful arrangement may fall to pieces. Thus, while planning your day, stick to the rule 40/60 – the check list for a given day should take 60% of your working time. The remaining 40% is the time saved for the unforeseen situations. Depending on the nature of work and how organized the employee is, the proportions might vary (e.g. 80/20)

Effective time management is not difficult, however, it requires realizing the losses caused by dealing with irrelevant issues in the workplace. This awareness, combined with self-discipline will enable the development of an effective work schedule that will bring in tangible benefits to both, the employer as well as - or perhaps primarily - to the employee.

How much you lose, how much you can gain? Calculation of effective time management costs by Agata Jakuszko – agata-jakuszko.pl

Estimated time loss during the day:

  • Texting – 1 min. -> Sending 10 texts a day = 10 min + 2 min reaching for the phone = 12 min
  • Visiting social networking sites – 5 x 7 min = 35 min
  • Reading articles not connected with work – 15 min
  • Visiting online auction website – 20 min
  • Phone call from a friend – 7 min
  • Lengthy lunch break – 30 min

TOTAL: 119 min ≈ 2 hours

Estimated value of one hour of work – assumed annual income: 80 000 zł:

80 000 zł : 2000 = 40

40 x 3 = 120 zł/hour

Estimated loss cause by ineffective time management during the day:

2 hours x 120 zł = 240 zł

 


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