Improving time management and productivity is something that many individuals struggle with, so it’s even harder to improve team time management. No matter the size of your team, and whether they are remote or not, there’s likely room for improvement on your team’s time management.
A common mistake that team leaders make is trying to improve team time management using the same strategies as individual time management. We’ve put together a guide of 5 strategies and 5 tools that will evolve your team time management in 2023 and beyond.
Read on to learn more about how you can have better time management and productivity!
Why is effective team time management important?
Team time management can make or break a project. Without effective time management, your team will often lag behind and either scramble to meet deadlines — or miss them altogether. Every team leader wants to ensure that their team is running as efficiently as possible, and team time management skills are a big part of that.
When there’s good time management, everyone on the team knows exactly what they should be working on. They understand how their tasks connect to the bigger picture of the project, and are able to communicate amongst each other and with their team leader. Team members take responsibility and accountability for their part of the project, and work together to keep everything moving forward.
Having good team time management can alleviate stress and improve the overall team dynamics, because there’s no blaming and finger pointing for things not getting done. Effective team time management also reduces — or eliminates — procrastination. Because tasks are divided into smaller tasks and everyone knows what they’re working on it reduces the uncertainty and overwhelm that often contributes to procrastination. Poor time management can lead to a frustrated and less productive team.
So how do you improve your team time management for 2023 and beyond? Read on for 5 team time management strategies and 5 team time management tools.
5 team time management strategies
Time management strategies are plentiful, but we’ve put together a list of specific team time management strategies, with a focus on keeping remote teams on track.
1. Engage your team in the bigger picture
With different team members working on vastly different tasks, it can be tempting to give team members a limited context for their tasks. You may think that limiting context can help everyone focus on their tasks, but it may have the opposite effect. Without understanding why they’re doing something, team members may become unmotivated, confused, and unable to prioritize tasks.
Communicating the bigger picture can help keep everyone’s eye on the prize. At the start of every project talk to your team about how this project fits in with overall business goals. This can help team members be more engaged and understand why they’re doing specific tasks. This helps keep everyone motivated and contributing directly to business goals.
2. Co-create a positive and productive team culture
A lot of team time management strategies focus specifically on the clock and what happens during work time. Equally as important, however, is the culture that your team is operating in. A positive, supportive team culture helps keep everyone motivated and on task.
Encourage frequent breaks to ensure that your team members are avoiding burnout. While it may seem counterintuitive to take breaks to improve team time management, a team that is burned out and tired is not a productive team. A good work-life balance helps your team stay focused during work hours.
Another way you can contribute to a positive team culture is by creative communication norms. For example, when is information shared by Slack or email? Everyone has their own communication preferences and if not establishing norms can lead to a lot of frustration and miscommunication. For one team member, sending a Slack message could signal “this needs to be addressed in the next hour”, while the person receiving the message might think that Slack messages can be addressed in 24 hours.
Establishing communication norms is equally important if you work with a freelancer on your team. They should know how best to communicate with your team.
Establishing communication norms also ensures that nothing falls through the cracks and that urgent messages are attended to in a timely manner.
3. Ask your team what they need
There’s no better way to improve team time management than to simply ask your team what works best for them. What are some of the most tedious and time consuming tasks they have? Are there any bottlenecks preventing them from getting things done? Are they better focused in the morning or afternoon? Collaborate together to come up with strategies that complement their natural workflow, instead of imposing a set schedule and workflow on the team as a whole.
It may take some time initially to get everyone’s preferences, but in the long run it will save your team hours of wasted time. When everyone is working in their own timeframe, they will be most productive, improving the productivity of the whole team.
Time tracking software is a great tool for figuring out the capacity of your team members. Use a time tracker not as a punishment or micromanagement tool, but rather to gauge when your team works best and if there’s anything you can do to improve your team’s efficiency.
4. Create a system of trust and autonomy
While it may seem like micromanagement is a good way of keeping everyone efficient, it’s actually trust and autonomy that lets your team do their best. Give your team the autonomy to say no to low priority tasks, and work together to allocate tasks across the team. Once tasks are set, let team members decide how they’d like to progress through their tasks. As long as they are making progress and meeting deadlines, team members should have the autonomy to manage their own to-do list.
Another great way to improve your team time management is to streamline or eliminate menial tasks like giving feedback and setting meetings. Evaluate each of these tasks and ask if your team members really need to be spending time on them. Clockwise automates meeting scheduling for your whole team, so no one has to spend time sending out multiple scheduling emails again.
Honoring Focus Time is a great way to give your team members autonomy and time to progress though priority tasks. Focus Time should be free from distractions like social media, meetings, check-ins, or Slack notifications. Time blocking works great with Focus Time because teams can block off time to work on important and complex tasks.
5. Prioritize tasks and communicate deadlines
The most important job of a team leader is prioritizing tasks and enforcing deadlines. The easiest way to improve your team time management is to make sure that you’re handing down tasks in the most effective way possible.
Break down all large tasks into smaller tasks, but preserve the “hierarchy” of tasks, so team members understand what their specific smaller tasks contribute to. Share deadlines with team members early, and often. The more information you give your team members, the more empowered they will be to self-organize and self-prioritize tasks. Go beyond timesheets and share schedules and availability so everyone knows who is available for questions and clarification. While you may have to tell your team what the most important tasks are at first, the more information you give them the more they’ll start to be able to determine which tasks are most important themselves. Put all of this information in a shared workspace — whether it be in person, or digitally.
Make a daily and weekly plan, and share it with your team. It’s important to not add these plans to time-wasting meetings. Instead, take the time as the team leader to share the plan in a shared document or email. While this may take you more time, setting a meeting takes up more time for every single team member.
A common bottleneck in team time management is delegating tasks laterally to other team members. Frequent delegation can lead to resentment, with some team members feeling like they are picking up the slack for others. If the same people are constantly being handed tasks, they are also more likely to become overwhelmed and neglect their own tasks. To avoid this problem, set up “delegation partners”. Partner up team members who do similar tasks and empower them to delegate tasks to each other if needed. That way, every team member knows exactly who they can delegate tasks to.
An important part of task allocation is also to document work that is completed and roadblocks that have gotten in the way. Send out a summary to your team so that together you can celebrate your progress and brainstorm what needs improvement.
Team time management techniques are most effective when they’re automated. Read on for our 5 top team time management tools that help automate team time management.
5 top team time management tools
The best team time management tools help team leaders automate their team time management and empowers team members to self-organize and keep moving forward. These are our picks for the best team time management tools to help you evolve your team time management in 2023 and beyond.
1. Notion: The ultimate context tool
Notion is a great tool for putting all of your team’s assets in one, easily searchable place. You can upload roadmaps, SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), and resources all in one place. This is a great tool for cutting down on time silos because of not having a critical resource. While it may take a while to set up templates and themes, there is also a robust community that provides free templates.
It’s well worth taking the time to set up Notion, so you can give your team member’s all of the resources they need to get the job done.
What it’s best for: A central repository of all of your resources
Drawbacks: Requires significant setup and doesn’t have an intuitive interface
Price: Free to try, with paid plans starting at $8 per user per month
2. Plaky: Project management that’s free forever
Plaky is created by the same team as Clockify, so you know they take team time management seriously. Plaky is a comprehensive project management and time management tool that’s currently free to use, without any restrictions. While they do eventually plan on introducing a pro plan, currently the full software is available for free, making it a great resource for startups.
What it’s best for: Project management for startups
Drawbacks: Lacks some of the enterprise features of paid software like Asana
3. Proofhub: Simplify the feedback process
Proofhub is an all-in-one project planning and management software. It lets you create Gantt charts for and helps your team self-organize with kanban boards. It also offers standard project management tools like custom workflows, task management, and custom roles. What sets Proofhub apart, however, is their intuitive solutions for simplifying the feedback process. It lets you offer feedback directly on documents and images without having to send out emails.
What it’s best for: A better feedback process
Drawbacks: Limited free trial
Price: Flat pricing starting at $45/month
4. Teamwork: Track how long tasks really take
Teamwork is a great time management app that gives you a clearer understanding of the actual amount of time it takes to complete a task. Teamwork gives you the ability to estimate the time you think a task will take to complete, and then real-time data of the actual time tracked to compare against the estimated time. This is a great solution for teams using time tracking to better understand team capacity so you can make sure your team has enough time to complete tasks.
What it’s best for: Employee time tracking and estimating
Drawbacks: Doesn’t have as comprehensive of project management features as other tools
Price: Free for up to 5 users, with plans starting at $9.99 per user per month
5. Clockwise: Rework your workday
Clockwise is the ultimate schedule wrangler. This time orchestration platform helps to automate meeting scheduling and ensure that your team always gets the Focus Time that they need. You can even create custom Smart Holds — protected time throughout the day — for other factors like commuting time, lunchtime, meditating time, and more. It’s the best way to make time for your habits. With Slack and Asana integrations, Clockwise helps you design your workday for ultimate productivity. With functionality that suits individuals and teams, Clockwise is the perfect addition to anyone’s toolbelt.
What it’s best for: Eliminating time wasted on meeting scheduling
Drawbacks: No task management
Price: Free to start with plans starting at $6.75 per user per month
Team time management is critical to the success of teams and the projects that they work on. The best team time management strategies help team leaders optimize the resources at their disposal, and empower team members to self-prioritize tasks and set their own schedules. Team time management tools automate parts of team time management and help facilitate collaboration and communication.
If you’re interested in reworking your work day, Clockwise can help. Click here to get the Chrome extension for free.