Time management is one of the core functions of a project manager. A project manager, or management team, need to ensure that every job is carried out within a time scale for the project to be a success, and the sorts of areas they should be looking at are:
- Deciding on priorities
- Carrying out activities around those priorities
- Reducing time spent on non priorities
- Effectively scheduling the tasks
- Match resources to workloads
- Planning the amount of time spent on specific activities
- Creating an environment for effectiveness
The dictionary definition of time management says – The analysis of how working hours are spent and the prioritisation of tasks in order to maximise the efficiency of the workplace. The definition couldn’t be any clearer; that is exactly what time management is, and lack of it can prevent a business or project reaching its full potential.
Many business owners are so disorgansied they will say they have no time to do any planning, but if only they managed their time, instead of letting their time manage them, they would be so much more effective as managers.
For any time management to be successful, you have to learn to say no – if it is your own project you are managing, or managing a project on behalf of someone else, you have to stick to the plan, it’s too easy to get sidetracked on something else and then suddenly your project starts to fall behind.
The whole idea of time management is to increase effectiveness, efficiency and productivity, and there are tools and techniques to help. There are several standard methods that have been used for many years, such as:
- ABC analysis: In this method all tasks are put into groups marked A, B or C.
- A is for tasks that are urgent and important
- B is for tasks that are important but not urgent
- C is for tasks that are not urgent or important
Each task is then grouped accordingly. The ABC method is often linked with the Pareto analysis.
- Pareto analysis: The basis of this method is that 80% of jobs can be done in 20% of the time, and the other 20% of jobs take 80% of the time. The tasks are sorted into one of the two parts, and the first category given higher priority.
- Other methods: As well as these two methods there are others used in the business world, such as:
- The Eisenhower Method
- POSEC Method
- Implementation of Goals
- Task List Organisation
Most of these methods have been in use for many years, the Eisenhower Method being attributed to the American president of that name.
Modern time management has the use of several software options on the market; generally they use the task list application. Some have a built in hierarchy of tasks, which filters and puts them in order. Many of the products allow multi users, so management is able to pass tasks to other staff though the program.
With all these tools, what works for you will not necessarily be what works for the project manager next to you. It’s up to you to identify which tools and methods you find useful and which only end up becoming a burden.
Eliminate the Unnecessary
Part of time management for project managers involves eliminating what doesn’t need to be done, often tasks that are carried out by tradition rather than need. Doing the tasks that do need doing and getting rid of the ones that don’t need doing, can free up time to plan for everything else and help you manage your time better.So remember time management is one of the core aspects of good project management and if done right will ensure that the project is a success.
Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.
There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.
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