Learning & Development

4 Time Management Techniques for Human Resources Professionals  

If you’re an HR leader, you’re well aware that time is a valuable asset. Your to-do list never seems to shrink, even as the clock keep sticking and the days turn into weeks.  You’ve got applicants to interview, new hires to onboard, and an employee base to tend to. Often, HR leaders are juggling multiple hats and putting out several fires at once.

That’s why it’s so important for HR leaders to have great time management skills. Not only do you need to get everything done, but you’re in the business of people. If you’re constantly stressed or glancing over your shoulder at the clock, employees aren’t going to feel heard, listened to, or valued. And if they don’t, that means you aren’t doing your job—no matter what else you’re able to get done. Time management isn’t just for increasing your productivity; it’s about creating an environment where everything has its proper time and place so that things flow smoothly.

Here are four time management techniques you may not have implemented yet. Try a few and see what works best for you, so that your calendar goes from stressful to smooth sailing.

Batch Your Work

It’s well documented that the human brain loses efficiency when we’re task-hopping. So if you spend fifteen minutes updating your company’s social media, and then plan to spend fifteen minutes looing over a new job description, you’ll lose at least 5 or so minutes while you switch tasks and your brain updates (“oh, we’re doing this now!”) It’s much better to do similar tasks one after the other instead of constantly task-hopping.

That’s why batching your work can be so effective. Consider creating theme days in order to group certain aspects of your workload together. This will be individualized to your own work responsibilities, but an example would be always tackling interviews for new hires on Mondays, always having any conflict resolution meetings on Tuesdays, always doing employee check-ins on Wednesdays, etc. By grouping your work together, you’re training your brain on what to expect and losing that valuable time and efficiency that you’re wasting when switching from task to task. Is this a perfect system? Of course not—all HR professionals know that things will pop up from time to time that need immediate attention. But you aren’t aiming for perfect, you’re aiming for improvement.

Implement a Monthly Make-Up Day

As noted above, things don’t always go according to plan in the HR world. Unexpected employee conflicts, unpredictable exit interviews, or other unforeseen circumstances can easily arise. Life circumstances happen as well—sick kids, or our own illnesses, or a sudden need for medical leave. But they can also throw a major wrench in your schedule. We’ve all been in the situation where a task we’ve been planning on completing gets pushed back…and back…and back. It’s also pushing other things back. And suddenly, we’re sitting in the middle of a five-car pileup.

Enter the monthly make-up day. Build in a day each month where you simply catch up on the things you’d been planning to do, but hadn’t quite gotten to yet! If that feels wasteful, don’t—odds are, you’ll always have lingering tasks to complete, and if for some weird reason you don’t, you can always get a head start on the following day’s plans. But by reserving a day for make-up days, you’re ensuring things don’t get out of hand from a simple schedule setback. It’s setting yourself up for success, and understanding that the life of an HR professional frequently gets chaotic.

Outsource or Delegate

Are you doing things that you don’t necessarily need to be doing? Small tasks that could be handed off to an intern, or things that fall outside your purview that you’ve just gotten used to doing? Now’s the time to embrace either outsourcing or delegating those tasks. There are some things that need to come off of your calendar and be handed to someone else equally as capable.

HR professionals are often perfectionists—they want to be the only ones touching their work, because they know they’re the ones who can do it best. But if you’re doing too many things, your overall quality of work will start to slip. By narrowing in on what really needs your personal touch, you’ll ensure that what you do work on is flawless, and helping mentor others in the field. And if you truly feel that the people under you or around you are incapable of doing anything…it might be time for an employee change. You should be able to trust the people in your downline.

Update Your Systems

When you’re constantly putting out fires, it can be really difficult to find time to work on your systems. After all, your workflow doesn’t feel like a fire—the issue right in front of you does! But often times, if we update those systems and workflows, the effect they’ll have on the rest of our work week is remarkable. Tasks will be easier to complete, action items will requires less of your time, and your workflow will improve significantly. The problem is finding the time to work on your systems instead of in your systems. Try and find a day that you can devote solely to system maintenance, and then implement a Systems Maintenance Day each year. For instance, what’s your onboarding process? Which documents are you walking new hires through, which training programs are you crafting for them, and what meetings do they need to sit in on? You may be filling your process with unnecessary bloat, or it may be useful to implement new technologies or programs to help make things go more smoothly. By giving yourself a few hours to rework your onboarding strategy, onboarding in the future may require much less hands-on action from you. But you’ll only learn that if you take the time to look at each system and give it the proper update.

Claire Swinarski is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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