Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 26, 2020

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

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?

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success 17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques What Are The Levels Of The Mind And How To Improve Them

Trending in Productivity

1 5 Values of an Effective Leader 2 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 30 Practical Ideas to Create Your Best Morning Routine 5 Is People Management the Right Career Path for You?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

Advertising

From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

Advertising

The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

Advertising

But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

Advertising

Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next