Beating the clock: HR time management tips

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There’s a danger of HR professionals, especially those in small teams or sole practitioners, feeling pressured to be all things to all people.

If we’re not conducting interviews and performance reviews and dealing with employee complaints, we’re also meant to be influencing the c-suite, helping to maintain a healthy workplace culture and the myriad other duties that fall under the HR purview.

But simply having enough hours in the day to get everything done can be a problem, unless HR practitioners possess excellent time management skills.

It sounds like something we learned at school, but in the business world, being able to effectively prioritise and knowing when to delegate work is crucial.

Sarah Derry of People Reaching Potential, who is both the principal and sole HR person of her company, told HRM that being time-poor is an issue.

“You’ve really got to know what’s going to add the most value. So any activity or project that you do, you’ve really got to think it through. The challenge is deciding what is going to add the most value.”

While there will always be circumstances beyond your control – interruptions, employee issues, workplace accidents – the key is understanding what circumstances you can control and how to do so.

Here are 10 ways to manage your time more effectively:

1. Start a time diary

Make a record of exactly how you are spending your time and figure out how you can better use the time you’re currently wasting. Most people will spend significant parts of their day waiting for things like appointments, meetings and phone calls. Have a task that you can do while you wait.

2. Plan ahead

Don’t just organise your day, extend that to your week and month so you have a clear view of the tasks you need to complete and the deadlines you need to meet.

3. Organise your correspondence

Don’t let your inbox get out of hand. File emails into the appropriate folders as they come in to avoid clutter. Creating a template response for common emails can also save time. Organise mail by what needs to be dealt with immediately and what can be followed up later.

4. Know when you do your best work

If you work best in the morning, that’s the time to schedule the bulk of your workload. Likewise if you’re an afternoon person. Get as much done during your peak productivity time as possible.

5. Set aside time to get things done

When you have priority tasks to tackle, you need to minimise distractions. Close your door, let your phone go to voicemail and ignore your emails for an hour and see how much you can get done when you just focus on the job at hand.

6. Learn to delegate or say no

When you’re busy, learn to turn down non-essential tasks or delegate them to other employees. If you become overloaded, the tasks will just end up at the bottom of your to-do list, when they could be completed by someone else.

7. Know what you need for routine tasks

Writing down the steps you need to complete for routine processes saves you time in hunting for necessary items and will make sure you do the task accurately. Written procedures are also helpful when delegating.

8. Do one thing at a time

Don’t multitask – the projects you’re juggling will end up being done to a lesser standard. Focusing on one thing at a time is faster in the long run and jobs will be done properly.

9. Take a break

Remember to leave your desk and take time out during the day. Breaks will refresh you and make you more alert.

10. Keep work and home separate

Don’t let distractions from your personal life impact on your work day and vice versa. The more you achieve at work, the more you’ll enjoy leaving it behind to go home. 

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