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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 September 9, 2021

10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

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10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

Productivity planners and journals are tools of a trade. There’s an art to productivity. Just like art is very personal to the artist, productivity is very personal to the person. What works for you may not work for me. This is an important distinction if you really want get more done in less time.

Too many of us dabble in productivity hacks only to move on to the next tool or trend when it didn’t workout for us, missing the lesson of what worked and didn’t work about that tool or trend.

We put the tool on a pedestal and miss the art. It’s worshipping the paint brush rather than the process and act of painting. We miss the art of our own productivity when the tool overshadows the treasure.

As an artist, you have many brushes to choose from. You’re looking for a brush that feels best in your hand. You want a brush that doesn’t distract you from your art but partners with you to create the many things you see in your mind to create. Finding a brush like this may take some experimenting, but when you understand that the role of the brush is to bring life to your vision, it’s easier to find the right brush.

Planners are the same way. You want a productivity journal that supports you in the creation of your vision, not one that bogs you down or steals your energy.

Let’s dive into the 10 best productivity planners and journals to help you get more done in less time.

1. The One Thing Planner

The NY Times best selling book, The One Thing, just released their new planner. If you loved this book, you’ll love this planner.

As the founder of the world’s largest real estate company Keller Williams Realty, Gary Keller, has mastered the art of focus. The One Thing planner has its roots in industry changing productivity. If you’re out to put a dent in the universe, this may be the planner for you.

Get the planner here!

2. The Full Life Planner

The Full Life Planner is Lifehacks’ ultimate planning system to get results across all your core life aspects including work, health and relationships. This smart planner is 15 years of Lifehack’s best practices and proven success formulas by top performers.

With the Full Life Planner, you can align your actions to long term milestones every day, week, and month consistently. This will help you to get more done and achieve your goals.

Get the planner here!

3. The Freedom Journal

Creator of one of the most prolific podcasts ever, Entrepreneur on Fire, John Lee Dumas released his productivity journal in 2016. This hard-cover journal focuses on accomplishing SMART goals in 100 days.

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From their site:

“The Freedom Journal is an accountability partner that won’t let you fail. John Lee Dumas has interviewed over 2000 successful Entrepreneurs and has created a unique step-by-step process that will guide you in SETTING and ACCOMPLISHING your #1 goal in 100 days.”

Get the planner here!

4. Full Focus Planner

Michael Hyatt, author of Platform and host of the podcast “This is Your Life”, also has his own planner called the Full Focus Planner.

From the site:

“Built for a 90-day achievement cycle, the Full Focus Planner® gives you a quarter of a year’s content so you aren’t overwhelmed by planning (and tracking) 12 months at a time.”

This productivity planner includes a place for annual goals, a monthly calendar, quarterly planning, the ideal week, daily pages, a place for rituals, weekly preview and quarterly previews. It also comes with a Quickstart lessons to help you master the use of the planner.

Get the planner here!

5. Passion Planner

They call themselves the #pashfam and think of their planner as a “paper life coach”. Their formats include dated, academic and undated in hardbound journals with assorted colors. With over 600,000 users they have a track record for effective planners.

From the site:

“An appointment calendar, goal setting guide, journal, sketchbook, gratitude log & personal and work to-do lists all in one notebook.”

They have a get-one give-one program. For every Passion Planner that is bought they will donate one to a student or someone in need.

They also provide free PDF downloads of their planners. This is a great way to test drive if their planner is right for you.

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Get the planner here!

6. Desire Map Planners

If you’re looking for a more spiritually oriented planner, Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, created the Desire Map Planners. With Daily planners, Weekly planners and Undated planners you can find the right fit for you.

Behind this planner is the Desire Map Planner Program including 3 workbooks that not only support you in using the planners but guide you in your thought process about your life and intentions you’re using the planner to help you fulfill.

Get the planner here!

7. Franklin Covey Planners

The grandfather of all planners, Franklin Covey, has the most options when it comes to layouts, binders, and accessories. With over 30 years in the productivity planner business, they not only provide a ton of planner layouts, they also have been teaching productivity and planning from the beginning.

From the site:

“Achieve what matters most with innovative, high quality planners and binders tailored to your personal style. Our paper planning system guides you to identify values, create successful habits, and track and achieve your goals.”

Get the planner here!

8. Productivity Planner

From the makers of the best selling journal backed by Tim Ferriss, “The Five Minute Journal”, comes the Productivity Planner.

Combining the Ivy Lee method which made Charles Schwab millions with the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused in the moment, the Productivity Planner is both intelligent and effective.

It allows for six months of planning, 5-day daily pages, weekly planning and weekly review, a prioritized task list, Pomodoro time tracking, and extra space for notes.

From the site:

“Do you often find yourself busy, while more important tasks get procrastinated on? The Productivity Planner helps you prioritize and accomplish the vital few tasks that make your day satisfying. Quality over quantity. Combined with the Pomodoro Technique to help you avoid distractions, the Productivity Planner assists you to get better work done in less time.”

Get the planner here!

9. Self Journal

Endorsed by Daymond John of Shark Tank, the Self Journal takes a 13 week approach and combines Monthly, Weekly and Daily planning to help you stay focused on the things that really matter.

Self Journal includes additional tools to help you produce with their Weekly Action Pad, Project Action Pad, the Sidekick pocket journal to capture your ideas on the go and their SmartMarks bookmarks that act as a notepad while you’re reading.

Get the planner here!

10. Google Calendar

You may already use Google Calendar for appointments, but with a couple tweaks you can use it as a productivity planner.

Productivity assumes we have time to do the work we intend to do. So blocking time on your Google Calendar and designating it as “busy” will prevent others from filling up those spaces on your calendar. Actually using those blocks of time as you intended is up to you.

If you use a booking tool like Schedule Once or Calendly, you can integrate it with your Google Calendar. For maximum productivity and rhythm, I recommend creating a consistent “available” block of time each day for these kinds of appointments.

Google Calendar is free, web based and to the point. If you’re a bottom line person and easily hold your priorities in your head, this may be a good solution for you.

Get the planner here!

Bonus Advice: Integrate the 4 Building Blocks of Productivity

Just as important to productivity planners as the tool are the principles that we create inside of. There are 4 building blocks of productivity, that when embraced, accelerate your energy and results.

The four building blocks of productivity are desire, strategy, focus and rhythm. When you get these right, having a productivity planner or journal provides the structure to keep you on track.

Block #1: Desire

Somehow in the pursuit of all our goals, we accumulate ideas and To-Do’s we’re not actually passionate about and don’t really want to pursue. They sneak their way in and steal our focus from the things that really matter.

Underneath powerful productivity is desire. Not many little desires, but the overarching mother of desires. The desire you feel in your gut, the desire that comes from your soul, not your logic, is what you need to tap into if you want to level up your productivity.

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A productivity planner is just a distraction if you’re not clear on what it’s all for. With desire, however, your productivity planner provides the guide rails to accomplish your intentions.

Block #2: Strategy

Once you’re clear on your overarching desire, you need to organize your steps to get there. Let’s call this “strategy”. Strategy is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. You must first turn over all the pieces to see patterns, colors, connections and find borders.

In business and life, we often start trying to put our “puzzle” together without turning over all the pieces. We put many items on our To-Do lists and clog our planners with things that aren’t important to the bigger picture of our puzzle.

Strategy is about taking the time to brain dump all the things in your head related to your goal and then looking for patterns and priorities. As you turn over these puzzle pieces, you’ll begin to see the more important tasks that take care of the less important tasks or make the less important tasks irrelevant.

In the best selling book, The One Thing, the focusing question they teach is:

“What’s the One thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else is easier or unnecessary?”

This is the heart of strategy and organizing what hits your planner and what doesn’t.

Block #3: Focus

With your priorities identified, now you can focus on the One Thing that makes everything else easier or unnecessary. This is where your productivity planners and journals help you hold the line.

Because you’ve already turned over the puzzle pieces, you aren’t distracted by new shiny objects. If new ideas come along, and they will, you will better see how and where they fit in the big picture of your desire and strategy, allowing you to go back and focus on your One Thing.

Block #4: Rhythm

The final building block of productivity is rhythm. There is a rhythm in life and work that works best for you. When you find this rhythm, time stands still, productivity is easy and your experience of work is joyful.

Some call this flow. As you hone your self-awareness about your ideal rhythm you will find yourself riding flow more often and owning your productivity.

Without these four building blocks of productivity, you’re like a painter with a paintbrush and no idea how to use it to create what’s in your heart to create. But harness these four building blocks and find yourself getting more done in less time.

The Bottom Line

Your life is your art. Everyday you have a chance to create something amazing. By understanding and using the four building blocks of productivity, you will set yourself up for success no matter which planner, or “paintbrush”, you choose to use.

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As you experiment with different planners you will narrow which one is best for you and accelerate your path to putting a dent in the universe.

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Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

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