Let’s replace “time management” with time engagement. Time is a C.O.R.E.* resource for successful employee engagement. We want employees to invest time in their work assignments. We also want them to engage in the most effective, energetic, and enjoyable use of time. If they do that, they’re more likely to be engaged. Time engagement beats time management hands down. Three reasons:
- The attempt to manage time creates a competition. Like taming a lion or repairing a lawn mower. Engaging time, on the other hand, is partnering with a resource, allowing it to support (rather than control) our efforts to succeed.
- The reason for time management is our belief we do not have enough time. Time engagement maximizes our interaction with time, sort of like dancing. Rather than seeing time as limited and forcing us to squeeze as much out of it (or into it) as we can, we engage time by making it available as much as we need.
- Time management conditions us to deadlines and to working against them. Time engagement frees us to see time as a guideline for our daily operations. With time engagement we rarely sense “have to”, as in have to stop, have to hurry, have to finish.
Merely citing differences between time engagement and time management takes us only so far. More beneficial are testing and applying practices that generate time engagement in the workplace. First, positive change to time engagement requires discarding time management behaviors.
Don’t Waste Time Estimating Time.
Most time management practices have you plan how long a task or project will require. That imposes stress from the get-go because you’re automatically working against a deadline. As well, it takes time to calculate how much time you’ll need. Seems a waste of time in itself.
Don’t Work Past Being Productive.
Once your personal production level has fallen too far, you’re wasting time. Now’s the time to stop, move on to another task, or take a break. Do not allow yourself to work for the sake of putting in the time but not reaping full rewards.
Don’t Allow What’s Comfortable to Replace What’s Effective.
It’s so easy to opt for the feel-good activities, especially when the should-do tasks are more strenuous. Focusing on producing an effect results in a longer lasting, more rewarding “feel good” than does working on what’s comfortable.
Managers can open frequent conversations, inviting individuals’ examples, to demonstrate the power of letting go of such practices.
Now, with what do we replace those? These positive Do’s can hasten your organization’s Time Engagement:
Time Engagement: Do Prioritize Tasks/Projects.
Encourage the practice of prioritizing the items on your to-do list. There are meetings and calls that have fixed times. Your time engagement with everything else is determined by when it is to be finished, or more truly when you want to it finished. When you set the priorities for all the tasks and projects on the plate, you allow yourself to engage with less stress and greater enthusiasm. [Feel free to substitute “your employees”.]
Time Engagement: Do Work with Chunks of Time.
Build the habit for you and your employees of “chunking time.” Define a period — a chunk — of time for which you will work on a project. At the end of that time, stop…at least for a few moments. Depending upon your energy level, your momentum, your enthusiasm, you may decide to begin another chunk on that same project. You may decide to move on to something else, with a chunk of its own. Chunking replaces “I must be finished by…” with “I am free to work until…”. Work performed in time chunks is more productive and more pleasant; it is free of the hurry-up stress that accompanies running out of time.
Time Engagement: Do Take Breaks to Re-energize.
Make breaks part of the work culture. These may be coffee breaks, talk-on-the-phone breaks, plug-in-the-iPod breaks, whatever-it-takes breaks to restore the energy, the effectiveness, the efficiency that go with time engagement. Let employees know know that 10 minutes away from work are a dynamite investment if one returns from 60% initiative with 80%-90%-100% initiative. Taking a break doesn’t mean breaking the engagement. In fact, it can make engagement even more attractive.
Time engagement reflects employee engagement while it generates employee engagement. Valuing the resource of time and the resourcefulness of time engagement can be a double win for the business that wants more engagement.
*C.O.R.E. stands for Communication, Opportunity, Resources, and Engagement (by managers/leaders). These are critical factors that contribute to a work culture that stimulates employee engagement.
(About the Author: As an Employee Engagement and Performance Improvement expert, Tim Wright, has worked with businesses and national associations of all sizes. His company, Wright Results, offers proven strategies and techniques to help businesses increase employee engagement, improve personnel performance and build a strong business culture by focusing on performance management from the C.O.R.E. For more information, visit www.wrightresults.com or connect with Tim here: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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