Effective Time Management

There are several techniques that project managers can practice in order to make better use of their time:9

• Follow the schedule.

• Decide who should attend.

• Avoid useless memos.

• Refuse to do the unimportant.

• Know your energy cycle.

• Control telephone time.

• Send out the meeting agenda.

• Overcome procrastination.

• Manage by exception.

As we learned in Chapter 5, the project manager, to be effective, must establish time management rules and then ask himself four questions:

• Rules for time management

• Plan solid blocks for important things.

• Classify your activities.

9 Source unknown.

• Establish priorities.

• Establish opportunity cost on activities.

• Train your system (boss, subordinate, peers).

• Practice delegation.

• Practice calculated neglect.

• Practice management by exception.

• Focus on opportunities—not on problems.

• What am I doing that I don't have to be doing at all?

• What am I doing that can be done better by someone else?

• What am I doing that could be done as well by someone else?

• Am I establishing the right priorities for my activities? The following recommendations are given to project managers:

• Know the weekly and daily energy cycle of your people as well as your own. Be sure to assign or perform work that is compatible with this energy cycle.

• If you have employees who come and go on flex-time schedules, be sure to account for this arrangement in assigning work and understanding their energy cycle.

• Understand the productivity levels of your people, and make sure that the project's performance standards are compatible with the productivity level of your people.

• Do not schedule overtime unnecessarily unless you know that overtime is needed and that efficiency will be maintained. It is possible for employees to ''save themselves for overtime" and thereby produce the same work in twelve hours that they would in eight hours.

• Try to monitor your own workload closely and see if there is any work that could be done effectively by someone else. If necessary, refuse to do the unimportant work. Avoid procrastination and try to work on the most difficult tasks first. Start now and look for ways to buy additional time. Be prepared to make quick decisions.

• Do not schedule meetings unless they are cost-effective and necessary. Assist your people in preparation for the meeting. Prepare an agenda and make sure that key personnel are informed well in advance of any major problems to be discussed.

• Conduct the meeting effectively and efficiently. Start the meeting on time, get right to the point, and end the meeting on time. Try to get all attendees to express their views, and avoid prolonged discussions of trivial tasks.

• Decide whether it is absolutely necessary for you to attend a given meeting, especially if it requires travel time. If travel time is required, be prepared to work at travel stops.

• Try to minimize the amount of time you spend away from your desk. Be willing to delegate. Plan solid blocks of time for important work. Classify your objectives, and get to the point at once. Learn how to say no. Be willing to delegate and employ the management-by-exception concept.

• Time robbers can destroy a good project schedule. Control telephone time and be willing to let your secretary take messages. Get rid of casual visitors. If necessary, find a way to work in seclusion.

• Establish proper priorities for yourself, your project, and your people.

• Avoid time-consuming communication processes. Avoid memos. If memos or letters are necessary, make them short and summary-type in nature. If you have lengthy reports to read, it is best to take them with you on long trips.

• Train your boss, peers, and subordinates how to work with you. Be willing to assert your rights.

• If conflict resolution is necessary, obtain the necessary information as fast as possible and make a decision. Establishing procedures for conflict resolution may be helpful.

• Follow your schedules closely, especially items on the critical path. You may find it necessary to monitor critical items yourself rather than wait for periodic feedback.

• Be willing to delegate work to subordinates and peers. Do not try to be a "nice guy" and do it all yourself, lest you place yourself in the position of doing work that is normally the responsibility of the functional departments or other project office personnel.

Project managers typically understand the role of the project manager at project conception, but seem to forget it during project execution. This loss of understanding, which creates time management problems for the project manager, is usually caused by the project manager's:

• Waiting for someone else to make a decision that is his own responsibility

• Neglecting to "keep his door open" and "walk the halls" to find out what's going on

• Neglecting to use the experts correctly and trying to do it all himself

• Being concerned about his previous technical discipline or profession rather than the best interest of the company

• Being too interested in methods rather than in results

• Trying to do the work himself rather than delegating it to someone who works more slowly

• Wasting time in project team meetings discussing one-on-one problems

• Failing to recognize that his boss is there to help

Project managers must understand that even though they have the authority, responsibility, and accountability for a project, there are still parent company administrative duties that must be accepted. These items are usually additional work that the project manager has not considered.

Project management may not be the best system for managing resources, but it is better than anything we have had in the past. Effective time management may very well be the most important weapon in the project manager's arsenal for obtaining proper resource control.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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