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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

What is Project Time Management (And Tips to Improve it)

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What is Project Time Management (And Tips to Improve it)

Project time management, as the name itself explains, is another version of time management. It is the scheduling of time for effective outputs but with the specific aim of successful results in a project.

The importance and value of time are well-known. The real deal is using this time to complete your projects and professional duties promptly while guaranteeing the yield of quality results.

Project time management is the tool that will help you keep track of time ensuring maximum productivity. Whether you’re a manager or a team member, project time management is vital to your efficient work performance.

What Is Time Management in Project Management?

Briefly, project time management is the art of managing time with a project in mind. This means you have an impending due date, a list of requirements, specific tasks to fulfill, and usually a group of people who must fulfill all these checkmarks.

Generally, the project manager devises a timeline to ensure all deadlines are met so that everyone can avoid stress, delays, and mishaps during the project. However, since the repute and peaceful workflow of all team members is at stake, all employees should work for operative project time management.

The Vital Steps

Project time management is not just a general concept. It is a technique with specific steps that should be followed for the best results.[1]

1. Activity Definition

The first step is to clarify all the needs and requirements of the project. This step needs to be done with extra attention to detail to avoid inconveniences later on in the process.

Start by defining the project: What it is and what needs to be done? What goals do you want to accomplish? How much time you’ve got?

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This is where setting SMART goals for the project comes in, too. Starting with defined SMART goals will keep you and the entire team on the same page as to how much work is expected and what quality of results is required.

2. Resource Estimating

Once the requirements and goals are identified, it’s time to take a look at all the supporting resources. Everything and everyone that can play a part to help you reach your goals need to be identified at this stage.

During this step, you’ll get clarity on what materials, people, and other resources are available and what you need to outsource. Therefore, at this stage, you’ll get an estimate of the budget requirements as well.

3. Duration Estimating

Since project time management is focused on time, estimating the time requirements is one of the most essential steps. With all resources, aims, goals, and requirements previously calculated, estimating the time requirements becomes easier and more accurate.

This is the step where you calculate the details of each step. Get an estimate of how long each step will take, how the timeline of the process will go on, where you can adjust delays, and where things need to be done strictly on time.

4. Schedule Development

The rough estimate of time is great for development, but it isn’t something you can communicate to your team if you expect punctuality. If you want everything to be done strictly on time, a well-defined schedule is what you need to assign to all team members.

When you’re developing a schedule, make sure you add details of all responsible people for a task. Be clear on how much time is allotted for each task. If possible, add in expected obstacles along with a guide on how to overcome them so that your team doesn’t feel lost.

5. Schedule Control

Developing a schedule is not enough. What’s more important is implementing it and if the need arises, improvising it.

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Keeping an eye on all team members to ensure that the schedule is being followed is one of the most important steps of project time management. Moreover, if unexpected hurdles hinder the process, you should know how to work around them to avoid delays in your project completion.

Tips to Improve Project Time Management

The 5 steps of project time management breakdown the process into a very manageable and practical technique. However, there’s always more that you can do to improve what you’re producing.

The following tips will help your team work better and yield refined outputs.

1. Use a Management Tool

A management tool or software is necessary. Firstly, because it is the easiest, most convenient method of keeping everyone on the same page. Secondly, the world is shifting to digital means. Especially after a pandemic, it is important to keep digital options in mind to accommodate remote workers.

A digital software allows all team members to have access to details of the project. Everyone is made better aware of their duties, deadlines, and updates. Moreover, the team can coordinate with the help of such tools without needing to meet physically every so often.

At Lifehack, we use Basecamp. It is a great tool to keep all remote workers in the loop as well. Everyone’s progress is easily communicated and due to the ease of use, it saves up a lot of time.

Every individual can update their work progress in real-time. The manager can keep track of the overall progress. In case things are lagging, immediate action can be taken to fix the delay as early on as possible.

2. Prioritize

Prioritizing like a pro is an essential skill that contributes to the success of project time management. You need to know exactly which steps of the process must be done before the rest. Not only is this order necessary for a smooth flow, but it also ensures that maximum time is saved. The use of five whys is a great way to prioritize.[2]

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So, if you think a task is the most important, you start questioning why it is important, why the other can be delayed but this task cannot be, and so on.

Another method that helps in setting priorities right is the superstructure method. This is a step-by-step method in which you figure out the most important tasks by breaking them down and understanding them.

The first step in the superstructure method is to have a clear intention, which in this case is to finish the project in the best way possible in minimal time. Next, you determine the value of the task at hand which is basically the task’s contribution to fulfilling your intent.

After that, you figure out the cost, which is the inputs, and weigh them against the outputs you’ll receive. If it’s a profitable deal, you prioritize it.

This may sound like a lot, but you must prioritize the task list daily to keep it updated as per the need of the situation. Once you get the hang of the process, it will only take you a few seconds to get this done every morning.

3. Balance of Responsibilities

Project time management focuses a lot on maintaining a balance, whether it is a balance of time against tasks or responsibilities against resources.

One thing that a lot of managers do wrong is that they either overburden themselves or their team. They fail to estimate where they must stop taking on more. Once this limit is exceeded, all the previous efforts start going down the drain.

This issue can be easily avoided if you set defined SMART goals right off the bat when beginning with the project. However, if you still get caught in a web of more responsibilities than you can manage, it’s time to use the wonderful technique of delegation.

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It is extremely important that as a project head or manager, you know when you need to supervise when you must do tasks yourself and when you can let your teamwork independently.

Do not take all responsibilities by yourself. Delegate things that do not require your full attention. Similarly, do not burden your team while you stay free all day long. Experiment around to find a healthy balance where you have enough space to manage the team while doing your tasks. Simultaneously, your team can manage their duties efficiently, too.

One tip that will help you whether you’re delegating or not is to be well aware of the qualities of all your team members. You should know exactly who can serve as the saving grace of the project when things start getting out of hand.

Conclusion

In conclusion, project time management is an amazing technique to implement in your workplace. Whether you’re a manager or working under one, add the steps of project time management to your work process for an easy workflow that is well-managed.

It’s time to stop pushing things to the end of your to-do list. No more slacking and unproductive days at work. Start using this technique along with the tips, so that you’re never late on completing projects ever again!

More Tips on Project Time Management

Featured photo credit: Brad Neathery via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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