mercoledì 22 maggio 2013

Improve Time Management with Timesheets

Improve Time Management with Timesheets

Ever felt that there aren’t enough hours in the day? We talk about managing time as if we can somehow control it, but time is fixed. You can only manage yourself to get the best out of the available time, and this is something that many project managers struggle with. It might seem like completing employee timesheets is yet another task to fit into your already busy day, but a timesheet can be a valuable tool in making the most of your working time. Timesheets can help you identify where your time is being spent and with a bit of analysis you can use the data to work out how you could carve up your working hours more effectively.
Still think that timesheets are an administrative task that you could do without? Here are some reasons why online timesheets can help improve your time management skills, and a few tips on how to use them effectively.

Timesheets Show Where the Time Goes

Time fliesThere are numerous techniques you can use to help improve your time management skills, and everyone will have to find the time tracking software and tools that work for them. One thing that most of the structured time management approaches agree on, though, is that you have to start with knowing where your time is going. Timesheets can help with this, as they show everything that you have been up to during the working day.
You might be surprised at the results. It only takes half an hour to complete a project charter template, doesn’t it? When you take into account interruptions, getting a coffee, answering the phone, and computer crashes, you will probably find that completing that one task takes a lot longer in reality.
Ask your team members to share their timesheets – or set up your online project management software so that you all have access to each others’ timesheets – so that you can identify group activities that take up a lot of time, such as workshops. You can also analyze the team’s timesheets and compare the amount of time people spend on tasks. For example, you may notice that one individual can complete some project quality work in a much shorter time than their colleague. You can ask the two people to get together and discuss the task: the person who takes longer could learn a faster way of working from the other (or you may find that the person who takes the shorter time is not doing a very good job).

Timesheets Help Cut Out Wasteful Activities

Wasting timeWhen you know where your time goes, you can start to identify the non-productive time. Non-productive time is time that you spend at work, but not actually working, like breaks. You’d be surprised at how much non-productive time there is during a normal working day. No one is suggesting that you never take a bathroom break, chat to your colleagues about their weekend or make a cup of tea. However, identifying non-productive time can show you if your 15 minute tea break turns into half an hour on Facebook on a regular basis. That is an activity that you can cut back to free up more time for something else.
Another place to look for non-productive time is travel. Work out how many hours you are spending on the road or moving between offices. What can you do with your journey time to make it more productive? If you are traveling by plane or train you could probably do some work on the journey. If you are driving, you could make some calls. However you are traveling, if you choose to work, do it safely. The car isn’t the best place to have a tricky conversation with your project sponsor about why your project is over budget. The train isn’t the best place to phone your colleagues with sensitive information about a new initiative. And if you are working on confidential documents, be careful about who can look over your shoulder.
You could also investigate video conferencing, using collaborative workspaces, instant messaging and other online tools which could help you avoid travelling unless you really need to.

Timesheets Help Plan Upcoming Weeks

Have you ever promised to complete a task and then realized that it will be a challenge to do so by the deadline because you are scheduled to be in a workshop or at an event at your child’s school? Most project management software packages with timesheet functionality allow you to enter data in advance. You can block out time for holidays and other commitments before they happen, so that your timesheet effectively shows you when you are available for other work.
Share your timesheets with your project team members so that everyone knows when people are available for meetings. Don’t pre-populate your timesheets with project tasks, though, unless it’s an all-day commitment like a workshop. Trying to fill in a few hours here and there based on your prediction of what you’ll be doing in the future is very difficult and very likely to turn out to be wrong. If you do enter information in your timesheet for days that haven’t yet happened, make sure that you check them before you finally submit them. Otherwise you’ll end up booking time to a workshop that was cancelled or a holiday you didn’t take at the last minute.

Timesheets Help Improve Work Life Balance

Work Life BalanceThe good thing about being better at time management is that you have more available time in the day. You don’t have to use the time for work. Finish at the end of the working day and go home on time instead of staying late. Take a colleague out for lunch. If you understand where your time is going, cut out (or cut down) non-productive time, and plan your weeks in advance, you’ll be much better positioned to use your time effectively and fit more into your working day. Of course, you could choose to spend that time at work – but you don’t have to!
Yes, completing timesheets is another thing for your To Do list. It is an extra task to complete during the day. You can minimize the effort involved by completing the timesheet at the end of every day, or the beginning of the next day. Block out a few minutes to keep it up-to-date and you’ll find that it doesn’t take very long. It is worth it to get the information so that you can properly assess how you are spending your time and make informed decisions about how you want to spend it going forward.
Find out where your time is going and improve your time management with the time sheet templates and functionality of Create reports and share timesheet information with your colleagues so you always know the project status and how people are spending their working days.

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