Help with time management

As a manager, you are in a position to provide advice and support to your employees and team members. This is not only about technical issues and support with technical tools, but also about developing soft skills and overcoming organisational problems that often come between project-related demands and everyday work. Time management in particular is an aspect that many people pay too little attention to, both in their private and professional lives. Often the focus is more on the professional aspects and time management is neglected. However, it is important to pay attention to time management, especially when a team is behind schedule. Too often, people try to catch up by working overtime or other short-term measures, but this is rarely the long-term solution.
A man in a beige-coloured coat and with a briefcase in his hand stands on an escalator and looks at his watch.


What is time management?

You may be familiar with the following situation in your workplace: Time and again, your team postpones appointments or is constantly late. Often the problem is not with the team as a whole, but with one person who does not get their work done until the last minute or after several reminders. Instead of concentrating on the actual work, excuses are made. These delays can also affect the work of other team members. Do you also have situations where people respond to emails at unusual times, such as in the middle of the night or at the weekend? But why is this necessary, why not during working hours? Good time management shows that someone is able to manage their time effectively and organise themselves well. However, the examples above also show that there are people who have trouble with this, and the reasons can be many and varied.

Causes of poor time management

Poor time management is often the result of a combination of factors, such as inadequate prioritisation and ineffective planning, which together make it difficult to use the time available efficiently.
Lack of priorities

A lack of priorities can lead to employees getting lost in unimportant tasks and wasting valuable time. If the goal is unclear, work will be undirected and inefficient due to a lack of focus. In addition, poor documentation can lead to important documents being lost and valuable time wasted searching for information. Planning too tightly or too optimistically can leave people feeling overwhelmed and stressed, which affects the efficiency of their work. Constant procrastination exacerbates this problem, as important tasks are left undone and eventually a large backlog of work builds up.
Inadequate preparation

Inadequate preparation for meetings regularly leads to time-consuming discussions without a clear focus. In addition, taking on too many tasks limits the ability to allocate resources efficiently, which can lead to bottlenecks and inefficient work. Managers' tendency to leave tasks until the last minute or to communicate unclear project objectives creates uncertainty and reduces the efficiency of implementation. The lack of clear objectives and inefficient working practices at management level hampers the overall performance of the team and contributes to wasted time. The issues of documentation and over-optimistic scheduling mentioned above also apply here.

High levels of stress can lead to a feeling that tasks need to be completed quickly, which can lead to inefficient use of time. It can also affect the ability to set clear priorities, resulting in time being wasted on unimportant tasks. Difficult, quick and informed decisions are less likely to be made, which can lead to delays.
This can lead to people working without adequate breaks, which can have a negative impact on productivity in the long term.

Support employees

Before talking to the employee, look at their tasks so that you can address the situation individually. If the employee has the same workload as their colleagues, the problem may be one of time management. In this case, the focus is on creating a work plan together. A priority list can help. A brainstorming session might reveal whether your employee sees the priorities in the same way or has a different perspective - this could be a starting point.
Once the priorities have been set, it may be useful to introduce a daily or weekly progress report. This will allow you to keep track of the employee's activities and quickly identify any bottlenecks. At the same time, the employee can present their achievements and it will quickly become clear where the problem areas are. For example, the employee may be caught up in time-consuming research, interrupted by too many phone calls or emails, or still have unclear priorities and undefined work steps. In such cases, it may make sense to delegate some tasks to colleagues, especially if they are activities that the person is not good at or that take up too much time.
You should work together to set achievable milestones and structure the tasks in such a way that all the steps build on each other in a clear and logical way. If necessary, you can also set up hourly work schedules with breaks and times for emails or phone calls to ensure there is enough time to concentrate. Interruptions can mean that the employee needs time to get back into the flow of work. It is therefore important to minimise interruptions and time wasting. Regular breaks are also important in order to be able to concentrate again after a short time.

Time management methods

Keeping track of time and setting the right priorities can be a challenge. Besides brainstorming, there are other effective methods for prioritising tasks, such as ABC analysis, the Eisenhower matrix and the Pareto principle. You can find more information on these methods in detailed articles on our blog.
ABC analysis

This analysis originally comes from business administration, but is used in project management to determine the importance of individual factors for the project. The aim is to find out which tasks require the most attention in order to work in a goal-oriented manner. For this purpose, the tasks are divided into three classes and treated accordingly.
A: Very important
B: Rather important
C: Less important
Eisenhower Matrix

This matrix, named after former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, arranges the individual tasks on a to-do list according to urgency and importance. It is particularly helpful in that it makes time-wasters visible, which is especially helpful for people who like to get bogged down in them.
Pareto principle

This assumes that 80 % of tasks can be completed in 20 % of the time and the remaining 20 % of tasks take 80 % of the time. So, depending on how much time is available at the moment, you can focus on the tasks that can be done quickly or those that take more time. Either way, 100 % must be achieved.


There are many reasons why time management sometimes doesn't work well. If an employee is struggling, they should not be left alone. There are proven methods to help them focus on and complete certain tasks. Recognizing and acknowledging progress can provide additional motivation. Your employee may have known for a long time that the organisation needs to improve, but may not have known how to go about it. Communication is key here. Put your anger aside and start the conversation with the assumption that the employee needs support. Offer them the help they need to make a successful start.

Help with time management - the IAPM logo
Author: IAPM internal
Keywords: Project management, Time management

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