Time management is often thought of as the ability to remain independently productive. But when it comes to teams, time management has to be a team effort. To meet deadlines, accomplish goals, and successfully run projects, team members can’t just be individually good at time management—they need to be good at team time management.
Team time management is the ability of a team to manage time well together, as well as individually. Teams that manage their time well together not only know how to remain efficient and focused when working autonomously, they also know how to communicate with team members and stay on task within the context of a team.
The hallmarks of effective team time management are not so different from individual time management: Focus, discipline, and time tracking are all critical to success.
The difference, however, is that a team is more than just the sum of its parts. Ten individuals who work efficiently on their own may work differently when working on a team. Only efficient team time management can ensure that they can work just as effectively together.
Team time management requires intentionality and specific technology to help with reporting and insight. In other words, it doesn’t happen by accident—even on a team of super disciplined individuals.
But the benefits of team time management are well worth the effort.
More than simply helping a team to succeed at accomplishing specific goals, team time management helps to create a happier, more efficient work environment with higher profits and lower stress.
Here are 8 core benefits of team time management.
Most of us can relate to the following scenario: You’re hard at work and in a state of steady flow when a coworker pops over to your desk and strikes up conversation. Thirty seconds in, you’ve lost your train of thought and your state of flow.
Or maybe you’re driving hard towards a deadline but you’re being inundated with emails or Slack messages about a particular project. They’re not high-urgency or high-priority, but you drop what you’re doing anyway to make your team members happy.
Or maybe the culture of your organization is simply to perform work in a way that’s choppy and disrupted. Meetings are scattered throughout the day, and it’s common to spend the majority of your time on messaging platforms and in your email inbox, rather than in a fixed state of focus.
In any case, these are all examples of organizational habits that are marked by poor team time management.
Effective team time management results in greater organizational efficiency. In other words, team members know how to use their resources—energy, focus, creativity, and cash—because they know how to manage their greatest resource—time.
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According to The American Institute of Stress, businesses in the United States lose up to $300 billion annually because of stress in the workplace. Likewise, stress causes up to one million professionals to miss work every single day—due to anxiety, sickness, and personal issues.
The bottom line? By damaging the mental, emotional, and physical health of working professionals, stress has a far reaching impact that can ultimately harm an organization’s ability to thrive.
The solution, however, is not to do less work—it’s to do work better.
Team time management can actually help reduce stress by a) giving teams the ability to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time, and b) creating a smooth, organized system for accomplishing tasks and goals.
The result? Happier, less stressed, and more productive team members—and a happier, less stressed, and more productive organization.
Teamwork involves bringing together multiple personalities, work styles, and skill sets to accomplish a unified goal. Typically, teamwork requires excellent leadership, strategy, and finally, team time management.
Team time management feeds and nurtures teamwork in the following ways.
Through strategic time tracking and reporting, team time management equips team members to succeed on both short-term and long-term goals—and become a better, more harmonious entity.
Using your resources well ultimately leads to greater profitability. Effective team time tracking means more time to ideate, refine, and build, resulting in potentially higher profits.
It also means less money wasted on paying professionals to engage in inefficient business practices, unfocused time, and choppy workflows.
There’s a clear and unmistakable link between time management and profitability. And by giving teams the tools and skills to use their time well together, team time management ultimately equips teams to make more money together. (And who doesn’t want that?)
One surprise benefit of team time management is that it can help team members become more creative, both independently and corporately.
First, working well together on a team can actually help individual members improve their creativity levels by fostering collaboration. Learning from others—especially those who think differently—is a great way to think outside of the box and come up with fresh new ideas.
Second, team time management can help free up time and space to ideate, brainstorm, and process new ideas without urgency or stress. The result? More room for great ideas, creative problem solving, and innovative new strategies.
As mentioned above, a more efficient and relaxed work environment will ultimately lead to a team of happier and more fulfilled employees.
Better time management means that team members can stay on top of their work, efficiently communicate with coworkers, and maybe most importantly, feel that they are working towards a single, unified goal.
Happier employees, of course, mean lower rates of employee turnover, and higher morale.
The bottom line? Team time management makes work more fun and more fulfilling for everyone.
Most professionals can relate to the experience of feeling like others don’t understand the nature of their work–especially with regards to time usage. Unfortunately, that can lead to frustration, misunderstanding, and unrealistic expectations for meeting deadlines.
Team time management helps bring much—needed awareness to how much time is demanded by different tasks and roles–creating new opportunities for mutual understanding. When other team members can see a visual breakdown of how much time is required to finish a task, they’re more likely to become empathetic and realistic about collaboration.
Finally, team time management can help organizations to meet legal compliance standards more effectively by reducing disorganization and helping businesses to meet labor laws involving time. And in some countries, time tracking is actually required by employers.
Creating practices that are legally compliant upfront can help a company become more scalable in the future—and preserve the integrity of the organization and safety of the team.
If your team is operating in dysfunction, team time management might feel like an unrealistic goal. And even if you’re operating at a “normal” level of chaos, team time management might feel overwhelming.
Getting started on team time management, however, doesn’t have to be a massive challenge. It simply requires a bit of planning, intentionality, and finally, the right tools.
As mentioned above, team time management can help resolve a number of problems in an organization, whether that’s wasted time, skyrocketing levels of stress, poor communication, or all of the above.
That being the case, the best way to get started on team time management is to identify your goals and needs first. What are the outcomes you’re looking to achieve with time management? Fewer hours wasted on poor communication? More time and space for creativity? Increased profitability?
Once you’ve identified why you’re integrating time management into your organization, you’re ready to choose a tool (and a strategy) for helping you to achieve those outcomes.
In the past, there were pretty limited options for organizations that wanted to achieve better team time management.
Team leaders and members could fumble through convoluted spreadsheets or stitch together a combo of tools for tracking, reporting, and organization. But that often results in unrealistic and inconvenient workflows—not to mention more confusion and time wasted.
A better option is to choose a single tool that’s tailored for team time management, such as a time tracking and management tool.
Here are several questions to ask before choosing a team time management tool.
Does the app support teams of your size? To gauge whether the app will support your particular team size, look at both the official features of the app and what the user base says. You may also want to scan a few case studies.
Does the app come with good support? The world's most smoothly functioning and easy-to-use app will still have bugs or wrinkles—which are annoying enough for the individual user but exponentially worse for teams. Make sure the app comes with a solid support team.
Is the app easy to use? Every app—even the ones that promise simplicity—requires some learning. But the easier the onboarding is, the less friction there will be in adopting the tool.
Does the app fit your budget? Many apps have tiered plans. If one plan is too expensive, another plan might work just as well for your team's needs. Do your research.
Is the app flexible? Will the app only work on one kind of tool (like an iPhone)? Is the app desktop only, or mobile friendly? Make sure that this tool will integrate well with your existing tool set and workflows.
Is the app secure and legally compliant? Finally, remember that using a team time management tool will involve collecting and distributing potentially sensitive information. Make sure that the tool is secure and legally compliant.
Tracking time enables employees to do their best work. Toggl Track helps your team get on track.
Finally, get everyone on your team on board with team time management. Without enthusiastic buy-in, your team may not make the most of team time management practices—including employee time tracking and accountability.
Here are a few strategies for getting team members on board with team time management:
• Equip team members with the right tools. Team members who are tired of adopting new tools or reluctant to add a step to their regular workflow need to know that team time management will be easy and convenient.
• Appoint a leader. Empower a leader to spearhead team time management. This team leader can help create excitement and enthusiasm around learning to manage time well—and can help keep team members motivated and on track.
• Do Scrum. Scrum meetings, or standup meetings, can help keep meetings short, streamlined, and efficient—contributing to better overall team time management. They also provide an efficient opportunity to check in with the team about time management, and answer questions or address concerns.
• Keep team members excited about time tracking. Find creative ways to remind team members of how time tracking is reducing their stress levels, freeing up time for more creativity and innovation, and making collaboration more efficient—and fun.
Like most things, there are both beneficial and detrimental ways to do (and think about) team time management.
That being said, it helps to keep a few simple dos and don’ts in mind as you’re entering the wonderful world of team time management.
Time management for a freelancer is a no-brainer: An independent contractor who manages their time better can earn more and work less. Things are often not so straightforward in teams. Hourly employees who are paid by how much time they work might not feel motivated to save time in the same way that a freelancer is motivated. Likewise, salaried employees who are paid a regular monthly salary may not feel motivated to make better use of their time.
That being said, remember to emphasize the personal benefits of time management for your team members.
When managing team time management, think through how time tracking and accountability practices will help your team members grow. Learning to track time and stay focused will help reduce stress. Learning how to collaborate with team members to meet deadlines and finish projects will help them enjoy better working relationships. And learning how to manage their own time and resources well can help team members become more empowered and confident professionals.
Team time management is about empowering your team members to successfully manage their own ability to be productive, focused, and collaborative. It’s not about micro-managing their schedules.
Time tracking reports should be used by team members as a way to supplement communication and promote understanding—not make flip judgments or guilt-trip.
Time tracking—the backbone of successful team time management—can become a game-changing practice for your team by providing powerful new insight and personal and corporate accountability.
That being said, time tracking should not be relied on exclusively to judge the performances of your team members—rather, use it in combination with standard performance assessments.
Remember, the goal of team time management is to help you make more of your team's time by changing the quality—not just the quantity—of work.
Team time management is not about applying a uniform management approach to your entire team. Everyone has different peak hours and different approaches to work. These differences depend not just on the nature of someone's work—creative, administrative, or otherwise—but also the employee's personality and work style.
Respect these differences and help your team members find a time tracking and time management style that works within your team time management system.
And finally, just as individuals differ, so too do teams. Think about the right time tracking strategies for your team, whether it’s a large creative agency with multiple smaller teams or a small startup of five.
Effective time management doesn’t mean filling every minute of every day with task-driven activity or intense, focused work. One key to using time well on a team is to leave space for providing feedback and reflection.
Asking for feedback from employees—and actually acting on that feedback—is an excellent way not only to improve your team’s time management, but to secure buy-in from the team. When they know that their opinions, insights, and thoughts are valued, they’re more likely to participate in and support time management.
Finally, take time to reflect on what’s been successful and what hasn’t. Asking questions and being honest as a team about team time management can help everyone to refine, improve, and pivot as needed, and ultimately become a more productive, efficient, and satisfied team.
Teams of 5+ are eligible for a personalized demo to see how Toggl Track can meet your time tracking goals