How to Increase Productivity with a Time Audit

How to Increase Productivity with a Time Audit

Not completing your tasks in your working day can be very frustrating. It might mean you have to spend more of your spare time catching up, or maybe some tasks will become neglected. Regardless, many of us have felt as though we could get more done or that we have more time. The solution might be easier than you think.

One way to help give your productivity a boost is to run a time audit. This article looks at what a time audit is and how to

What is a Time Audit?

Simply put, a time audit involves examining what you work on throughout the day. Doing so will help you identify how you can improve your time management. Many people will use their time inefficiently in two main ways:

  • Procrastination

We’ve all done it. We get at our desk, about ready to crack on and get stuff done, but we first choose to have a quick look on social media. We start off intending to spend just a few minutes catching up, but before we know it, an hour has passed, and we’ve still got nothing done.

In some cases, we are not even aware of how much time we are spending on social media and other distractions. However, a time audit will help let you know how much time you are wasting and the results can be quite surprising. Seeing such results can also help compel you to improve your productivity.

  • Unproductive Tasks

Some of our tasks can be time-consuming and not particularly productive. For example, you might spend a lot of time checking your emails each morning, taking time away from more valuable jobs.

A time audit will help you identify which unproductive tasks you are spending too much time on, helping you reorganize your day. For example, you could try delegating some tasks to somebody else and consider using automation tools to do your menial tasks for you.

How to run a Time Audit?

Before you run a time audit, you will first need to get prepared. One of the first things you should do is to define your goals and place your tasks into categories. Armed with this information, it will become easier for you to analyze the report and identify where time management improvements can be made.

A time audit is not difficult to run, provided you have the right tools. These tools include:

  • Time Tracking Apps

Using a time-tracking app is probably the easiest and most effective way to run a time audit. Various platforms are available, including the PK4 TimeTracker. The platform offers powerful reports and analysis that help you run an audit that will help you get the answers you need.

Such a platform will automatically monitor what you are working for and record the data for use later. Having the information available digitally will let you run reports that help break down your working day into intuitive graphs, charts, and other information.

  • Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets may not be as high-tech as time-tracking tools, but they can still be very effective when used right. Of course, you will need a timer to record how much time you are spending on certain tasks, and you will need to enter the information into the spreadsheet.

If you are good with spreadsheets, you will also be able to create your own graphs and other reports. These reports will then help you organize your day to boost your productivity.

  • Pen and Paper

Pen and paper are the crudest methods available, but they can still be effective. You will obviously need to write everything down clearly, while you will also need to time yourself manually. It will help if you draw a table first so you have an appropriate place to write down your observations.

Analyzing Your Audit

Time Audit Reports in PK4 TimeTrackerTime audits are a powerful tool because they help you take accountability for how you work. In acknowledging where you could be doing better, you can then ‘own’ it, which is an essential step before tackling the situation.

It will help if you are as objective as possible when analyzing your audit. Taking an objective approach involved using making decisions based on facts rather than feelings. Trying to take a subjective approach could lead to you starting to make excuses, making it harder for you to accept accountability.

Acting on Your Audit

A time audit is of no use to you if you don’t act on it, so make sure you use the information to put a plan in place. Such a plan will typically involve ways of ensuring your time is spent on productive tasks. As mentioned previously, you could try delegating your tasks or maybe consider adopting automation where appropriate. If necessary, you could also consider having your access to social media blocked to prevent you from spending so much time on Facebook and other platforms.

Summary

A time audit can be easy to run, especially if you have the right tools for the job. Remember that it’s best to be objective and be hard on yourself if necessary. Doing so will help you accept accountability and set about reorganizing your day to increase your productivity.

With your day optimized to make you more productive, you will get much more done in your working day. You will spend less of your personal time trying to catch up, while the more important tasks will get the attention they deserve.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

6 Ways to Become An Accountable Teammate

6 Ways to Become An Accountable Teammate

People work much more effectively as a team when compared to working as a group of individuals. However, in order for teamwork to be effective, each member of the team must do their part. If just one member of the team falters, it can adversely affect the whole group, and projects can be delayed or even worse.

One way to help ensure that all team members are participating is for all team members to accept accountability for their roles. Once team members are accountable, they know they’re responsible for certain tasks while the rest of the team understands their and others’ roles in the group.

This leads to the question of how you can become an accountable teammate, and this article looks to answer that question.

1. Work Efficiently

As a member of a team, individuals have the responsibility of ensuring they’re working efficiently and effectively. Otherwise, tasks might be delayed or not completed to the required standards. However, a lot of people may not be working efficiently without being aware of it.

To help you ensure you’re working efficiency, you can use time tracking software like the PK4 TimeTracker to monitor how much time you’re spending on particular tasks. The results are often surprising, with people finding out that they’re spending a lot of their time on unproductive jobs. Knowing this information then allows you to make adjustments to get your productivity back on track. 

2. Avoid Excuses

If you’re responsible for something that goes wrong – own it. Hold your hand up, acknowledge that you’re at fault and look to rectify the issue as soon as possible. One of the worst things you can do is to make excuses, and you should definitely avoid blaming other people.

You should also ensure you make people aware of the situation as soon as possible. You might find it tempting to keep it quiet in the hope it’ll work out, but this is only likely to make the matter worse. Instead, speak up about any project delays straight away so you can use teamwork with your colleagues, enabling you to fix the problem as soon as possible.

3. Embrace Failure

As a famous Scotsman once quipped, even the best-made plans can go wrong. This won’t necessarily be your fault or anybody else’s, while at other times the reason for the failure might be down to you. Don’t shirk away from such failures. Instead, you should embrace them. While failure obviously has its downsides, it can also be treated as an opportunity.

Once you embrace a failure, you can then own it and deal with it. Embracing a failure also helps you do one of the best things you can do in such a situation, which is to learn from it. When you are embracing your failures, working to correct them and learning from them, you become an accountable member of the team.

4. Declare Your Responsibilities

For teamwork to be effective, it’s important that everybody know who is responsible for what. That way, if something is behind schedule or gets done badly, people know who to turn to. If nobody is accepting responsibility for the role then there’s nobody to turn to, potentially making it very difficult to accept the situation.

To be an accountable teammate, you should declare your responsibility upfront so everybody knows who to speak to should they need to. This can also benefit you because people know who to approach to help prevent a problem from happening, if needed. Not only should you declare your responsibilities, but your teammates should do also.

5. Set Targets

All team members should set themselves targets that help ensure they deliver what is needed, and on time. You should also share your targets with your teammates so everybody knows what is expected of each other as well as themselves.

Another advantage of setting targets is that it helps the team as a unit tell if they’re being realistic and will contribute to successful project management. Setting targets together as a team gives everybody the opportunity to speak out if they feel the plan is flawed in any way.

6. Provide Regular Updates

Providing regular updates on your progress helps to ensure everything is going according to plan. Not only will providing updates help let your teammates know you’re on target, but it’s also an opportunity for you to update yourself. If something isn’t to specification or if it’s running late, then regular updates allow you to fix issues before they become a serious problem.

Providing regular updates will also help make it clear to others what your role is, thus ensuring you maximize your accountability and provide a strong teamwork ethic. Of course, the rest of the team should also provide regular updates making project management easier.

Become an Accountable Team Member and Enhance Your Career

Being an accountable team member provides various benefits to your team by helping to ensure projects are completed successfully. Perhaps even better is that accepting accountability is beneficial for you.

Accepting accountability will help make you a valuable team member, meaning you provide a positive contribution. Being adept at teamwork and contributing will likely be noticed and, hopefully, rewarded with promotions and positions that will help to further your career.

What’s more is that becoming accountable isn’t necessarily difficult, and it can even help to make your job easier. Make sure you’re spending your time effectively, embrace failure so you can learn from it, be open about your responsibilities, and do what you can to contribute to overall project management. Don’t forget that you should expect the same from your teammates also.

If you have any other tips on becoming an accountable team member, do share it with us in the comments. Would love to hear from you.

Photo by StockSnap on Pixabay

 

10 Creative Ways to Save Time

10 Creative Ways to Save Time

Time is the most precious commodity we have, mostly because we have so little of it. Even the wealthiest of people can’t buy more time, and we can’t replace time that has been lost. This makes it important to make as much of your time as possible because wasted time is time that you will never get back again. 

The chances are that all of us are wasting time in some ways, even if we don’t realize it. Take watching TV shows, for example. Now, watching a TV show is not necessarily a waste of time per se – we all need our downtime. But how much time have you spent watching intros that you’ve already seen numerous times before? Last week, Netflix revealed that in the 5 years since introduction, the Skip Intro button had cumulatively saved it’s users a 195 years! 

Here, we look at ten creative ways to help you avoid wasting your precious time. 

1. Time Tracking

Many of us will be wasting time without even realizing it or not realizing how much we are spending on unproductive tasks. However, investing in time tracking software like the PK4 TimeTracker can help you recognize where your time is being spent. Using time tracking tools makes it easier to know how to make adjustments to your day so you become more productive in project management.

2. Avoid Multitasking

Many people believe doing more than one thing at once is a great way to get more done to save time. However, quite the opposite is usually true. Indeed, studies have shown that we can lose up to 40% of our productivity if we try multitasking. Instead, it’s best to focus on one thing at a time, moving on to the next task as soon as the previous task is done.

3. Make the Most of Waiting Time

We all need to wait sometimes. Whether it’s in a waiting room for an interview or on a train on the way to work, there are moments when we are essentially doing nothing productive. However, you can even use these moments to get something done. Some tasks can be completed with a laptop or even a smartphone, leaving you free for other tasks later on. 

4. Delegate

Many tasks are time-consuming and unproductive, but they still need to be done. If you have such tasks on your itinerary, you could consider delegating accountability to somebody else. Delegating unproductive tasks will give you more time to focus on what matter most, boosting your productivity overall and making for good project management.

5. Avoid Pointless Meetings

A common issue that affects team management is calling meetings for no good reason. For example, some will want to call meetings to distribute work management reports that could otherwise be shared and discussed by email. If you are called to a meeting that you feel isn’t necessary, politely decline if you can. It’s important to be tactful because refusing to go to too many meetings could give the wrong impression, but it’s something to consider when you’re busy.

6. Learn To Say NO

Learning to say no is one of the most important skills to master when it comes to time management. Too many people will gladly disturb you when you’re already doing something, hindering your performance in the process. When it comes to team management, it’s important to draw lines and say no when people are disrupting your working day. It’s OK to allocate some time in the day to other people, but they need to know to leave you alone when you’re working. This includes friends and family as well as colleagues and employees. 

7. Plan Your Day

Planning your day ahead will help give your performance a boost. You will be able to see what needs to be done and when, making it easy to identify potential issues before you get started. Making to-do-lists will help you plan your day, while you can also use online calendars with staff and colleagues so they know what you have planned. 

8. Prioritize Your Tasks

A key tip to effective product management is to focus on your most important and most productive work priorities, and tools like the timeboxing technique will help you achieve this. Make sure to do the most important and most productive first, leaving the rest for last. Even better, delegate the least important tasks to give you more time to focus on important things, including essential downtime.

9. Automate

Many menial tasks will take a long time, but one of the advantages of menial tasks is that you can automate many of them. Some tasks like processing emails and replying with messages can be automated, potentially reducing wasted time and boosting your productivity. Another advantage of using automation tools is that they give you access to feedback data, which can empower you to make impactful decisions.

10. Look After Yourself

Taking accountability for your well-being is one of the most important time management skills you could learn. Eat well, sleep well, get a reasonable amount of exercise and give yourself time to relax. When you look after yourself, you are better prepared to handle whatever comes at you, making you more efficient. You will get through tasks quickly and accurately, helping to save time overall.

Summary

This is just a small selection of creative ways you can save time. In many cases, we aren’t even aware of how much time we are wasting, and time tracker tools can help highlight areas for improvement. Planning your day and avoiding unnecessary tasks and meetings can also help, while automation tools are also beneficial. But, perhaps most importantly of all, make sure to look after yourself so you’re firing on all cylinders. 

If you have other effective ways to save time, do share it with us in the comments. Would love to hear from you.

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

 

7 Tips to Make Team Meetings Productive

7 Tips to Make Team Meetings Productive

Productivity is an essential metric for businesses. Without high performance levels, targets aren’t met, and the bottom line can be affected, potentially jeopardizing the company. Some methods can keep performance levels high. For example, time tracking software like the PK4 TimeTracker will help make time management easier and limit wasted time.  

Individual employees must work together as a team for maximum project management effectiveness. However, getting individuals to work together can be easier said than done, with meetings often necessary to help the team gel as a unit.

Regular meetings can help make team management easier and boost productivity by getting everybody together and discussing roles and processes. Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your team meetings.

1. Create An Agenda

No meetings should begin without a meeting agenda. You should also send a message to others beforehand to ask if there’s anything they’d like to add to the schedule. Once you’ve created your agenda, you should ensure that everybody has a copy before the meeting starts.

An agenda is important because it helps ensure that everything is covered. A plan will also help ensure there’s enough time to cover everything, and it also helps you allocate time to agenda items to ensure they don’t’ run over.

During a meeting, it’s easy for people to come up with ideas that are not on the agenda, which could derail the meeting. However, such ideas may be valuable and should not be wasted. A solution to the issue is the parking lot technique that lets ideas be ‘parked’ so they can be revisited later.

2. Create the Right Environment

For a meeting to be constructive, it needs to be held in the right environment. The right environment means being in a place where you are not disturbed and where everybody has the opportunity to speak freely. Also, make sure that there’s plenty of space, everybody is comfortable, and you have all the tools you need.

In some cases, it can be constructive to hold team meetings in a casual environment with beanbags and other comfortable sitting arrangements. Helping people relax can help them think easier, helping their creativity to come out.

If your meeting involves remote workers, make sure all the equipment is in place at both ends. It’s a good idea to check equipment first to help ensure audio and video is clear and any other required functionality is working.

3. Assign Meeting Roles

Some meeting attendees should be given specific roles that will help ensure the meeting goes smoothly and is productive. The manager will usually lead the meeting, while other important roles include note-taking and time keeping.

It can also be a great idea in some meetings to assign somebody the role of devil’s advocate. This person will have the responsibility of challenging ideas to provoke thought. The devil’s advocate doesn’t necessarily have to disagree with ideas they are challenging – it’s more of a brainstorming exercise. 

4. Talk About Teamwork Not Reports

 Team meetings should ideally be about teamwork and work priorities. For example, team meetings should cover matters like roles within the team and if there is anything team members can do to be helping each other more.

It might be tempting to use a team meeting to distribute reports on project management, but this would be a waste of valuable time. Instead, reports can be sent before the meeting is held, so time is spent on more productive discussions. It’s a good idea to send the reports in plenty of time, so everybody has a chance to read them.

5. Assign Accountability

It’s all very well talking about what needs to be done, but one of the key issues is ensuring people know who is responsible. During the meeting make sure to assign accountability to the appropriate people so everybody understands who is responsible. Not only does this help the person responsible understand their role, but it also helps the rest of the team understand their position in the group. Assigning accountability during a meeting is also effective team management because it allows people to voice any concerns they might have. 

6. Ask For Feedback

No meetings should be a monologue coming from the meeting leader. Instead, they should be an opportunity for everybody to get involved and say their piece. Not only should you allow people to speak, but you should actively encourage them to speak. If needed, make sure to address everybody individually to make sure they know they have a voice.

Active listening is also very important for workplace management. Active listening means letting people speak and considering everything they are saying. Don’t be too quick to pass something off if it doesn’t sit well to begin with; the person speaking might have a very good point. 

7. Make Meetings Fun

Meetings can become boring and, when things get boring, even the most attentive of people can begin to drift away. However, if you make your team meetings fun, then you’re likely to keep everybody’s attention. So add some wit to your meetings to help make them enjoyable, while you can also try role play for a fun way to help team members understand other people’s roles in the team.

Of course, it’s important to remain professional and ensure that everything is covered. If things start getting a little too rowdy, it’s best to bring everybody’s attention back to work priorities. 

Summary

These are just a few tips that will help ensure that you get as much as possible from your meetings. Different types of organizations will need to adopt different models according to the nature of their work. For example, some will need to focus on creativity during their team meetings, while others will have more of a focus on technical issues.

Regardless, if you prepare and execute your meetings accordingly, they should help make project management easier. Do share any other tips that you find useful to make meetings more productive.

Photo by Joseph Mucira on Pixabay

 

6 Tips for Effectively Communicating Project Delays

6 Tips for Effectively Communicating Project Delays

It doesn’t matter how effective you might be at team management; it’s all but impossible to avoid the possibility of something going wrong with projects sometimes. In many cases, problems might be completely out of your hands. Delays are not uncommon, a survey has shown that a staggering 77% of projects run late, with 75% going over budget.

Although delays can be infuriating for all involved, project management will need to keep their focus and concentrate on what to do next. An important part of dealing with delays is communicating them with the client. This can be tricky to do and get the desired results, so here are 6 top tips on how to communicate project delays effectively.

1. Update The Customer as Soon as You Know

Having to tell a client that their project is delayed can be an awkward situation and something that a lot of people would try to avoid if possible. This might lead some people to try and delay telling the client, but this is only likely to worsen the situation.

It’s best to make the client aware of any delays as soon as you know. Doing so will help you maintain your professionalism despite the delay. It will also help give the client time to make other necessary arrangements. If you leave it until the last minute, you can leave the client in a tough situation with no time to fix it.

2. Keep Records

If there is a delay, the client may have questions. In such cases, it’s best to have all the answers available to you. 
Keeping productivity records will ensure you can show the client that you’ve practiced strong team management to keep the project running on time. You can also consider using project management software like the PK4 Time

Project Management in the PK4 TimeTracker

PK4 TimeTracker Gantt Chart

Tracker to help ensure you can show your client that your team has been working hard to reach the best possible performance levels.

Using a project management tool like the  PK4 TimeTracker can help you manage projects, organize tasks and build confidence within your team. You don’t need to shuffle between complex spreadsheets, email and other tools to keep your projects on course. Everything happens within one integrated system. And you’ll have all the time that your team has spent on the project, right at your finger tips. So you can present accurate data to your customer to back up your efforts.  And you can make it easy by giving your contractors access to the PK4 TimeTracker Mobile or Web app, so that tthey can track their time to the project as well, without needing to be in Salesforce.

3. Have a Solution Ready

Before you let your client know about any delays, it’s best to have a solution available. When you have a solution available, it helps to demonstrate that you’re doing what you can to rectify things as soon as possible.

Having a solution is one of the most important aspects of workplace management. Telling the client about your solution will help to take the edge of the bad news and help them to focus on the positives instead. It also allows the client to have their say about your solution, allowing them to contribute to making it work.

It’s important to remain positive yourself. Remember, you’re the professional and project management is what you do best, so you should always give the impression that you’re in control even when overall performance doesn’t go to plan.

4. Don’t Blame Others

Blaming other people for poor performance is a sign of poor team management, no matter how accurate you might be. If the client presses you for specific reasons regarding work priorities or similar, you should be honest with them, but it should never be done to try and deflect blame away from yourself.

Blaming others will make you look very unprofessional and will achieve nothing. It can make you look as though you’re unwilling to accept responsibility yourself, which could make your client concerned about how the rest of the project management will go.

There’s no need even to mention why a project has gone wrong or who is to blame in most cases. The client will usually only be concerned about what is being done to get everything back on track as much as possible. 

5. The Client Is Not Your Enemy

It’s entirely understandable if the client is frustrated at delays. After all, they have their time management and other issues to worry about. However, this does not mean a client becomes the enemy if they express their frustration.
Remember that the client will want the project completed in good time more so than you do, and they will likely cooperate with any attempt at getting things going again. You will likely need their cooperation to keep productivity high and get the project back on track, which means not making enemies.

You should certainly avoid saying it’s the client’s fault; doing so will only make them defensive. Instead, try to focus on work priorities and do what you can to get the client and team members working together to reach the same goal.

6. Update Often

In the case of a delay, it’s a good idea to keep the client regularly updated. They will be eager to know what progress is being made and will likely become frustrated if kept in the dark. You don’t necessarily need to keep in touch with them every day, but you should at least keep them posted on significant developments.

By keeping the client updated, you can help put their mind at rest while also giving them the opportunity to contribute. They may have a way of helping to make everything run as desired, so it’s a very good idea to have them fully on board. 

Summary

While communicating project delays can be awkward, you can make things go much better if you communicate effectively. Remember to communicate as quickly and as honestly as possible and be ready to present a solution. It’s also essential to always remain professional. Avoid blaming other people and instead focus on what you intend to do to overcome the problems you’re facing.

Keeping time management details and other useful records can also be very beneficial. Doing so can help you identify where things went wrong, and they can also show to clients that you’re doing your best if you’re pushed to give explanations. Regardless, it’s best to keep on communicating clearly and do what you can to keep the client and your team working hand in hand with you. 

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash