Managing projects within time, cost, and performance is easier said than done. The project management environment is extremely turbulent, and is composed of numerous meetings, report writing, conflict resolution, continuous planning and replanning, communications with the customer, and crisis management. Ideally, the effective project manager is a manager, not a doer, but in the "real world," project managers often compromise their time by doing both.

Disciplined time management is one of the keys to effective project management. It is often said that if the project manager cannot control his own time, then he will control nothing else on the project.

*Case Study also appears at end of chapter.


For most people, time is a resource that, when lost or misplaced, is gone forever. For a project manager, however, time is more of a constraint, and effective time management principles must be employed to make it a resource.

Most executives prefer to understaff projects, in the mistaken belief that the project manager will assume the additional workload. The project manager may already be heavily burdened with meetings, report preparation, internal and external communications, conflict resolution, and planning/replanning for crises. And yet, most project managers somehow manipulate their time to get the work done. Experienced personnel soon learn to delegate tasks and to employ effective time management principles. The following questions should help managers identify problem areas:

• Do you have trouble completing work within the allocated deadlines?

• How many interruptions are there each day?

• Do you have a procedure for handling interruptions?

• If you need a large block of uninterrupted time, is it available? With or without overtime?

• How do you handle drop-in visitors and phone calls?

• How is incoming mail handled?

• Do you have established procedures for routine work?

• Are you accomplishing more or less than you were three months ago? Six months ago?

• How do you approach detail work?

• Do you perform work that should be handled by your subordinates?

• Do you have sufficient time each day for personal interests?

• Do you still think about your job when away from the office?

• Do you make a list of things to do? If yes, is the list prioritized?

• Does your schedule have some degree of flexibility?

The project manager who can deal with these questions has a greater opportunity to convert time from a constraint to a resource.

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