Everyone knows managing your time wisely can benefit your life immensely, and most of all, Project Managers should know that in order to achieve success in all facets of life, they must comprehend the worth of time. Effective time management is described as allocating the proper amount of time to the appropriate activities. It is incredibly significant to both personal life as well as professional life.
Because of this, there are plenty of time management methods and techniques that can be applied to maximize your time and productivity, some of which are also crucial to project management. A project manager must be skilled in time management, considering they often create schedules and activity plans, it’s critical for them to understand how to properly manage their time.
The Most Important Time Management Rules For Project Managers
Before we get into the tips and techniques you should use, let’s first take a look at the most important time management rules and steps you need to follow when it comes to managing, planning and controlling projects at various levels.
Plan Adequately For Accurate Time Management
If your strategy is ineffective, things will get out of hand. Similar to this, you cannot handle things effectively without accurate time planning and preparing.
The steps you need to follow to make the most out of your time planning process are: Make a list of things to do, list the critical tasks that need to be completed in one day together with the time allotted for each task and set all high priority tasks first, complete each assignment one at a time and tally the ones you’ve completed, do not start new work until the preceding job has been completed! Make sure no time is wasted and you are able to complete all tasks in the time allotted. This goes for yourself and those following your plans as you manage a project. Managing project priorities is key.
Some project managers use MS Project as a tool to help them plan their projects and attend courses in order to improve their planning abilities. Considering the complex nature of project management, and how large certain projects can be, using tools such as this is incredibly useful and it’s recommended that a Project Manager becomes very familiar with the tools their company uses to manage the jobs.
Set Your Project Management Objectives
Clearly define all of your objectives and goals during this planning stage. Make sure your objectives are doable and reasonable, and you aren’t cutting yourself too short with time, or rushing things. Not only will you not be able to meet your goals, but it will also make the experience much more stressful and difficult. Don’t set yourself up for failure! Do your best to create as accurate a projection as possible, while also keeping in your mind that there will be a variance in the time planned and the actual time that is taken.
Establish A Deadline For Your Project Tasks
You are the right person to establish your deadlines. Decide how long it will take you to do the assignment, including the number of days. Put time constraints on yourself and make sure to work extra hard if you want to finish the assignment before the deadline. Be in charge of your work. Using a calendar or planner to note crucial dates and compare them to your deadlines will assist you along the way. The use of Gant charts and other tools are great resources for managing this.
Divide Responsibilities Amongst the Team
According to talents and interests, assign roles and tasks. Don’t attempt everything by yourself. At work, become comfortable saying “no.” Without thoroughly grasping the issue, don’t take on any projects that do not match your skillset. As a project manager, it is your role to identify and delegate key tasks, organize teams and develop a plan that can make best use out of each member and team’s skillset.
Prioritize Urgent Activities
Rank the work according to priority and urgency and learn to recognize the difference between urgent activities and actually significant tasks. Perform the crucial assignment first. Decide which tasks must be completed now, tomorrow, next month, etc. Should a variance in time spent vs time planned occur, knowing which tasks are urgent, critical, time-sensitive is needed to be able to manage the project effectively. Knowing which tasks and deliverables can be pushed back vs those that are needed urgently will drastically help should a variance occur.
Spend Your Time Wisely
Make it a habit to act appropriately at all times. Don’t spend all day doing something that can be done in just one hour. With time, you will see that work completed at the incorrect time can be of little use. When you’re using functional time-management tactics you need to be organized, focused, and efficient with your time. Taking an online project management course can definitely help with this kind of organization
Techniques For Time Management
In the project management industry, there are many different time management strategies. When applied properly, such time management strategies may increase your productivity significantly. The majority of project managers also take advantage of available project management tools and solutions such as MS Project to efficiently manage their time while they oversee initiatives. Here are some methods that can assist you in achieving time management success.
Techniques For Time Management – 1) Get Things Done
The first time management strategy we’ll talk about is the five-step process for breaking down chores into a simple to-do list.
The very first thing you need to do is make a list of all the tasks that you can think of. Then, determine if an activity is actionable, as well as the clear, firm steps you need to follow to complete it. After that comes organizing for the third phase. You must group the jobs according to their context, using names like “Office,” “Manager’s Request,” etcetera.
Reflection is the fourth phase, and it involves periodically going through the assignments to figure out each task’s next step. The last stage is Engage. After every task has been listed, designated as actionable, filed correctly, and reviewed, now just get to work on them.
The benefit of using this time management strategy is that your projects, tasks, and assignments are maintained in perspective at the same time you set them out, freeing up your thoughts and putting everything on the table.
The drawback of this method is that when there are several tasks on your list, it will be much more difficult to be able to organize your day effectively.
Techniques For Time Management – 2) Eat The Frog
Setting priorities is the goal of this strategy. First, you need to select the most crucial or least desirable duty, which you will call the frog. Deal with it right away. After that, you can move on to other duties you have planned for the day, just make sure to do them in that order. You need to categorize and label jobs according to their importance in order for it to function.
- Task A is the most crucial task. Therefore, you either address it quickly or pay the consequences.
- The second most crucial activity is Task B, which you must do following Task A. Task B has less significance, but continued importance.
- You have the option of doing Task C, but there are no negative implications if you choose not to.
- Task D should be assigned to another person, and the time spent on it should go towards Task A.
- You are allowed to omit Task E because you don’t actually need to complete it.
This method has the benefit of making work prioritization simpler. Additionally, completing the most crucial or difficult tasks first ensures that the other tasks will be completed without difficulty.
This method’s drawback is that it can become useless if the vital tasks change throughout your day.
Techniques For Time Management – 3) Kanban
Kanban is a visual project tracking time management strategy that helps you see the progress of every task and activity as they move across columns with various labels. This was created in Japan to improve time management and productivity in the industrial sector.
Open your project management computer software, grab your whitepaper, pen, sticky notes or paper in order to apply this strategy. Now figure out how many stages your project has, and create different columns as necessary. Make four columns and transfer tasks within the project between the following stages:
- Backlog: List every task that needs to be completed for the project in the backlog. The next step is to choose which tasks should be moved to the “To Do” column and decide which ones may wait.
- To Do: The to-do section contains a list of the tasks you plan to do.
- In Progress: Listed under “In Progress” is the project tasks you are now engaged in.
- Done: This section lists the work you’ve already completed.
This method’s benefit is that you will get a solid visual depiction of all the work you need to get to, as well as the progress that has been accomplished so far.
This method’s drawback is that it might take a lot of time. As a result of the team’s use of progress as measured by moving throughout the columns, it may also be challenging to forecast when the work or project tasks will be completed. Additionally, it doesn’t rank the assignment according to urgency and priority.
Techniques For Time Management – 4) Timeboxes
This method relies on timeboxes as its foundation. Project managers typically employ timeboxing since defined deadlines are frequently included.
You assign time intervals (called “timeboxes”) to various tasks, work among these time frames, and quit when the allotted amount of time has passed.
To get started, you first make a list of all of your obligations and duties. Define your goals after deciding what you need to achieve with these assignments. Give a task more time if you consider it’s vital and demands intense concentration (like two or three hours). If the work is challenging, divide it up and give sections of it less amount of time (around twenty minutes to half an hour) to make it simpler to handle. Now, begin with the top assignment and start working your way task by task down the list. If you’re working on the same task and the allotted time for it has passed, stop and take a small break. Always review the work you were able to do as you do it. Then focus on the remaining timeboxes on your calendar.
This method’s benefit is that it can be used for a lot of small activities. Additionally, it can be simpler to manage and keep accurate track of all of them. Furthermore, because deadlines are a vital element, you may concentrate on doing as many of your tasks as you can before the time limit runs out.
The drawback to this particular time management strategy is that when you do timeboxing, you cannot multitask, since it is allowing you to concentrate on one activity at a time. Additionally, it can be difficult to maintain a rigid strategy focused on timeboxes if you will get the inevitable interruptions like urgent phone calls.
Techniques For Time Management – 5) Who Has The Monkey?
This method is centered on assigning work to others. Typically, project managers utilize it. In this situation, handling the monkeys is a task that needs to be thought out.
There are three varieties of monkeys and time management defines them as Boss-imposed time, System-imposed time, and Self-imposed time.
The “boss-imposed time” variety refers to tasks that are demanded by the boss. The “system-imposed time” monkey describes the steps necessary to fulfill a request from a colleague and inquiries. And lastly, “self-imposed time” is the course of action you choose. You can utilize it to get your own projects and ideas done (i.e., free time) or address the issues and requests of your subordinates.
Your current goal is to decrease boss and system-imposed time, remove subordinate imposed time and enhance discretionary time.
First, identify and characterize the monkey, so define the task and the steps required to do it. To assign the monkey is to give it to a certain individual. Taking care of the monkey, or ensuring that they are handled properly. If one monkey is essential and doesn’t tolerate errors, you should suggest what needs to be done and take action as necessary. Act first, then give advice if you’re confident that the individual in charge of the monkey is able to manage it. Keep an eye on the monkey and plan when to check in with the monkey to ensure everything is proceeding as planned.
The benefit of this strategy is that the manager will be able to use their time wisely. It also provides a clear picture of who is responsible for what. Additionally, it’s a simple method of work delegation.
This technique’s drawback is that it solely addresses management and work delegation. It should, however, be used in conjunction to other techniques for time management to get greater overall productivity outcomes.
What Using Time Management Methods Can Do For Project Managers
Project managers must plan, schedule, monitor, and oversee all project operations in order to manage their time effectively. Time management can also be described as the control of time devoted to an activity and the monitoring of activity and task progression.
According to the Project Management Institute, one of the key aspects of project management is time management so learning and mastering this skill is essential for project managers.
Why Is Time Management So Essential To Project Managers?
A project needs to have a start date and a finish date by definition. Every project now needs a set plan or timeline in order to fulfill this completion deadline. To guarantee that the timetable is met, project managers must manage their time effectively.
Take the project to refurbish the office, for instance. Confidently, you won’t set a deadline for yourself since you’ll accomplish it during your leisure time. Because of this, you don’t make a project timetable. Additionally, you don’t consistently take any action to guarantee that the task is completed at the workplace. So what do you think will happen next?
The conclusion is that the project won’t be done since years will pass and time will go by. It will experience delays, which may be caused because you either neglected it because you were busier than predicted, or maybe you ordered the new plywood too late and wasted a bunch of time waiting for it to arrive, or just couldn’t locate an electrician that could help you finish all of the difficult wiring work because you didn’t have free time. You might also learn way too late that appointments for inspections must be made months before you start, etc.
Time management is therefore quite important. Lacking proper time management means your project may not be completed at all or will not be completed on schedule.
There are six primary time management procedures, according to the PMBOK. Let’s take a look at each of them and what they represent.
Time Management Process #1 – Plan Schedule Management
This method entails outlining how you’ll plan, control, and manage your project in accordance with the baseline timetable as well as how you’ll handle schedule deviations.
The result of this approach is the Schedule Management Plan in this case. It is a component of the main project management plan that speeds up the scheduling process and estimation of the development by incorporating the following:
- Scheduling the methodology and tools that will be used
- Establishing a basis for comparison
- Performance metrics that are going to be used to spot variations in a timely manner during the project
- Make a plan for how to manage schedule variations.
- A procedure for deciding whether to take action on a deviation
- Types of schedule-related reports needed for a project
- Project reporting frequency and format
- Length of iterations and releases using the agile methodology
Time Management Process #2 – Define The Activities
This procedure entails taking the Work Breakdown Structure-created work packages and breaking them down into all of the activities necessary to produce the deliverables for the work package and accomplish project objectives.
Decomposing job packages into smaller activities is one important time management strategy.
When it’s preferable not to prepare every aspect of the project in advance, you can utilize rolling wave planning. Instead, plan at a superior stage and then create more specific plans as needed. This kind of elaboration is progressive.
Time Management Process #3 – Sequence The Activities
Taking all activities and placing them in the order that the job will be done is what this method entails. A project schedule network diagram or just a network diagram is the end outcome. Network diagrams were created using PDM techniques.
The Precedence Diagramming Method uses boxes or nodes to depict activities, while the arrows demonstrate how those activities are dependent on one another. Activities can be related to one another in four different ways, including Start to Start, Start to Finish, Finish to Finish, and Finish to Start.
Based on necessary dependencies, optional dependencies, external or internal dependencies, and leads and lags, you may choose the order of the tasks.
Time Management Process #4 – Assess Activity Duration
Once tasks have been identified and ordered, it is the moment to determine how much time each task will take.
Time management strategies including one-point estimation, analogous estimation, parametric estimation, heuristics, three-point estimation, bottom-up estimation, and evaluation can be used to estimate.
- Reserve Analysis: Can include Management Reserves and Contingency Reserves in the timetable.
- Contingency Reserve: Contingency reserves are made for known and unknown circumstances. They are a part of the baseline project timetable. Following the identification of risk responses, they are allotted for recognized hazards that are still present.
- Management Reserve: These are extra finances and resources to handle unanticipated risks that can make it difficult to stick to the timetable. They should not be included in the baseline schedule.
Time Management Process #5 – Develop Schedule
In order to develop a master schedule, you must enter the network diagram and tasks time estimations into your software for scheduling in the project management information system.
All of the project data required to determine timetables, including activities, dependencies, duration estimates, lags, and leads are included within the schedule model. The result of this scheduling model will be the project schedule, which compiles all the scheduled data.
Milestone charts and bar charts are two types of timetable representation.
The timetable is accepted, based on the calendar, and reasonable. Since it contains all the tasks required to accomplish the project’s work, as well as reserves for unforeseen situations. Schedule Network Analysis is the method applied in this case. In order to develop a schedule model so you can finally complete your project schedule, a schedule network analysis is used.
Critical Path Method, Monte Carlo Analysis, Schedule Compression, Resource Optimization, and Agile Release Planning are the methodologies employed.
Time Management Process #6 – Control Schedule
It entails identifying the factors driving changes and exerting influence on the origins or fundamental reasons for the changes.
The things you need to do to control your schedule are: Consult the PM information system to evaluate recent data of your work performance and assess actual progress against projected progress as part of managing the schedule. Recalculate the project’s residual components’ costs. Analyze the performance of the project to conduct performance evaluations. Execute a data analysis. Determine the necessity for adjustments, such as corrective and preventative measures. adhere to the change management procedure. Maintain your schedule-optimization efforts.
Information on job performance, schedule projections, and occasionally change requests are the outcomes of this procedure. In addition, it could lead to revisions to the project’s management arrangements, performance measurement benchmark, risk register, lesson learned register, assumption log, and other project papers.
Resources You Can Use To Manage Your Time
To achieve successful management of your time for a project, there are several solutions available. They will subsequently assist your project in meeting the deadlines. They are:
- ProWorkFlow: This is a professional, user-friendly, and cost-effective web-based project management tool.
- Office Timeline: OT is a sophisticated PowerPoint timeline creator. Directly creating your timelines and Gantt charts using Microsoft PowerPoint can be very handy.
- Top Tracker: This program is free to use. It is a straightforward tool used to track your time.
- Click Time: By keeping track of how much time your staff is devoting to each project, the time tracking application Click Time may help you anticipate project requirements and monitor financial issues.
- Hours: It functions well as a collaborative time tracking tool, and for individuals wishing to monitor their personal productivity.
How Do Project Managers Deal With Project Delays?
Even when you have the greatest planning and timetables for your projects, delays occasionally occur. The usual causes include an undersized task, improper resource allocation, staff members quitting in the midst of a project, etcetera. Whatever the reason for the delay, your job as a project manager will always be to get everything moving again.
When delays occur in project management, there are several approaches you can use to handle them, such as:
- Consult with stakeholders and determine the appropriate time extension
- Prioritize project components, tighten project constraints, or settle on a phased delivery
- Add more personnel to critical route tasks, or lengthen the working hours, both of which will increase spending.
- Reallocate all resources after checking the dependencies.
- By designating tasks that were previously completed in succession to be completed in parallel, you may expedite the timeline.
- Verify the timeframe by checking all the time-sensitive tasks.
- Examine critical path operations and provide them greater productive resources, while giving noncritical path operations fewer productive resources.
- Avoid any scope changes.
Understanding the information in this article is an essential part of project management and a vital part of the PMP exam. Improve your project management skills or prepare for the PMP Certification exam by taking a quality online PMP exam prep course.