Time is the most valuable asset and if not properly managed the result could lead to a devastating burnout. This is especially true for HR professionals. The amount of time you dedicate to HR tasks not only determines your effectiveness but also points to whether or not you'd have any time left to focus on what matters: your people.
HR professionals are usually faced with different workplace issues and a bulk load of tasks to complete, which are competing for their attention at once.
With 24 hours a day, how do they optimize their time?
Luckily, time management skills have proven to be a lifesaver and here are 10 of them that's sure to prevent burnout and improve your efficiency at work.
10 hacks to save more time for HR professionals
1Automate administrative tasks
2Develop a system of work prioritization
3Group similar tasks
4Get yourself an online calendar
6Stick with one task at a time
7Utilize ready-made templates
8Implement the Pomodoro technique
9It's okay to say "no."
10Breathe and relax
1. Automate administrative tasks
To make the best out of your time, look for administrative and repeatable tasks you can automate. Using apps, digital tools or cloud-based software can save you lots of minutes here and there which you can then spend on tackling more challenging tasks.
Here are few tasks you can automate:
a. Add important tasks to to-do list
Zapier lets you set up a workflow from any work apps (Gmail, Trello, etc) to your note-taking apps. So whenever you mark important tasks, they automatically shows up in your to-do list without tediously copying and pasting anymore,
b. Time off request and approval process
Grove HR's mobile app is a great everyday tool for both employees and HR professionals. It only takes a few seconds for employees to request a day off while you or the line manager can immediately decide whether or not to approve or reject the request. Other team members are also automatically notified right away.
c. Payroll data consolidation
It usually takes more than a week to manually consolidate all data you need for payroll including how many paid/ unpaid leaves employees have used, how many hours they worked and overtime, what their rate is, etc. Grove HR does all of that for you automatically every month so you can quickly export the data and share with your accountant.
2. Develop a system of work prioritization
To efficiently manage your time, everything can't be categorized as a top priority. You need to consider the type of task, the person who delegated it, the deadline, and the resources at hand.
To do this, the "Urgency Model" is a favorable system of work prioritization that many professionals find helpful in categorizing tasks and selecting priorities.
You classify tasks into one of four categories:
Urgent and important:
These are tasks that must be done as soon as possible, are urgent and there are severe consequences if not delivered on time.
Not urgent, but important:
These are tasks that need to be done. They are important but not needed immediately. These usually come with a comfortable deadline.
Urgent, but not important:
This set of tasks are ones that can be postponed without major consequences. No set deadline so you can do it at your convenience but make sure not to leave it unattended for too long.
Not urgent and not important:
These tasks are at your mercy. They are not necessary and if ignored there won't be significant consequences.
3. Group similar tasks
Search for tasks that have one or two things in common and group them together. Then schedule them in blocks of time.
For instance, signing papers , listening to & answering voicemails, responding to emails— these are similar tasks you can group to tackle at the same time. Particularly, whenever you have a task that you can complete within a few minutes, do it with other minimal tasks. Many times you'd think you're done for the day only to find out that there are strings of emails you've not responded to. Resist the temptation to save it for later because "it won't take long".
4. Get yourself an online calendar
Nowadays you don’t have any excuses for not using an online calendar tool. It’s as simple as checking your email. Google Calendar is highly suggested, mainly because it’s integrated with Gmail and it’s available on all mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows etc.)
Next, put EVERYTHING you have to do in your calendar which is everything, including lunch breaks or replying to emails. Every single appointment MUST be in there. The rule is as follows.
Anything that is NOT in your calendar DOES NOT exist.
This means you will be using your calendar as your guideline to spend your day. See that as a tool to help you focus your attention so that you get more done in the same amount of time (or even less).
5. Be organized
Before putting all the tasks in your calendar, sort them out before you leave for the night, allocate the time required to complete each task and don't misuse it.
Here are steps you should follow:
1. Start with the end in mind. Write down for each project what the outcomes are (if a project involves multiple outcomes, prioritize the outcomes)
2. For each outcome, what must be done? (this is your to do list, ie your activities)?
3. Order these ‘to-do’ by order of priority (apply tip #3)
4. Decide how much time each ‘to-do’ will take
5. Only now open your calendar and look at your current schedule for tomorrow. Put your to-do in the time slot by order of priority (i.e. most important thing must be tackled first)
6. At the end of the day, look at any tasks you had to skip. Ask yourself
7. Why did I skip this item (was it important after all? Did you underestimate the previous task? Etc.)
8. If it’s still important, where can I move it onto the schedule for tomorrow?
6. Stick with one task at a time
Multitasking is a popular misconception. It is scientifically proven that we are miserable at multitasking. It neither improves your productivity nor does it do wonders for your efficiency.
This is because the brain isn't wired to focus on more than one string of important information at a time. Forcing it to do so only places a strain on the brain which would in turn reduce your efficiency and cause you to get tired quickly.
To manage your time well doesn't mean you have to do so many things at the same time. What it means is that you focus on one task at a time and complete it in time.
7. Utilize ready-made templates
Most of the time you are responsible for drafting emails to several employees and potential candidates. You are even expected to draw up different company's policies from "Employee Handbook" to "Diversity and Equality in The Workplace". These tasks usually take a lot of researching and writing effort.
With the use of ready-made templates, you can save a lot of time in writing word for word, the content of either the mails or policies. All you need to do is just edit the template by adding relevant information and you're good to go.
Find a rich list of ready-made templates and begin to reduce the time spent on drafting them yourself.
8. Implement the Pomodoro technique
To get rid of procrastination, start doing things one pomodoro at a time, whereas a pomodoro is a span of 25 minutes.
Choose your task, set a timer to 25 minutes (one Pomodoro) and focus 100% as you work on it. Take a break for about 5 minutes before you resume the next Pomodoro.
A productive day consists of 12 pomodoros, 16 is magnificent and 8 is the bare minimum. Though the Pomodoro technique requires a lot of self-control, it is highly effective.
9. It's okay to say "no."
A lot of HR professionals have trouble saying "no" because it is their nature to do their best and support every team member.
However, committing yourself to too many projects at once can affect the quality of your work. It is important to treasure one's time and realize that it is perfectly alright to sometimes say "no" to additional work that is not required of you.
Recognize your main tasks, give complete focus to your top priorities, and whenever added responsibilities can reduce the quality of your work, learn to say NO.
Another advice to note is learning to delegate your task. You’re not a lone-wolf. Work as a team to get things done quicker. This guarantees that you won't get overloaded and will also help keep your responsibilities balanced.
10. Breathe and relax
After you're done with the work of the day, don't forget to give yourself a treat. Leave the stress at the office and make yourself comfortable when you get back home.
Reflect on your day at work when you can and as you pat yourself for a job well done, highlight the areas you need to improve on the next day.
Find positives to dwell on and if you feel it's necessary, take time off work and maybe go on a vacation to maintain a work-life balance.