Project management requires a number of skills in order for the process to run as smoothly and as efficiently as possible and one of those many skills will also include time-saving strategies. As a form of time management, saving time when it comes to project planning is paramount to its subsequent, seamless execution. But what exactly is time management, why is it important and how can you save time when managing your projects?
What is time management?
Time management involves the planning and control of the time available to you in order to achieve set goals, meet deadlines or complete projects. Regardless of what it is you’re doing in everyday life, you’ll be using time management skills, to some extent. Whether you have a flight to catch and arrive two hours early or like to boil pasta for exactly eight minutes to achieve the optimum texture, you’re managing your time.
However, in a corporate setting, time management differs slightly from that of daily life. Although, at points, you’ll be responsible for your own time, there are other instances where you’ll have to work to manage the time of a group or a team of people, all with the same goals. This is important to ensure productivity and efficiency throughout the process in a bid to meet deadlines and finish projects within a reasonable timeframe and to a high standard.
Why is time management important when working on projects?
Any company, whether big or small, will have a Project Manager or another person on hand who has an expert set of management skills and that will include time-saving techniques. Usually a Project Manager is responsible for planning and delegating the workload together with keeping track of deadlines.
If the project is badly organised, then the overall job can feel like somewhat of an uphill task. Any delays in project progress will inhibit the budget, time and resources associated with the activity. If this is the case, then it can put a lot of stress and strain on the team which will lead to poor performance and morale.
With a well-organised, thoroughly-planned operation, you’ll be able to complete high-quality projects to an excellent standard and all in a quick and timely manner. As a considerable amount of positive progress is made, the higher your team’s morale will get. With such a skilled and content workforce coming together to get the job done, you’ll soon reap the rewards and all because of your excellent time management.
How can I save time when managing projects?
There are a number of different strategies you can implement and things you can do in order to save time and ensure your project progresses and is executed as smoothly and as quickly as possible. Below are a few of our tips to ensure excellent time and project management, no matter which industry you work.
Make sure you plan ahead
- Understand what the project involves and what the expected outcome is before you get started with any work
- Use this brief to make a plan going forward
- You should outline, roughly, how long each step will take and who you will delegate tasks out to
- If there’s a specific budget you need to work to, make sure your plan accounts for this so that the project doesn’t exceed it
- Call a team meeting and run through the entire plan so everyone knows and understands what the project means, what it’ll involve and what’s expected of them
Summarise the day’s events to your team
- This is in addition to holding a team meeting about the project as a whole
- At the start of each day, call a meeting to discuss what everyone will be doing that day and where each person is at in terms of any progress made
- This will help to identify colleagues who need help with their work or those who are somewhat snowed under with work
- It will enable you to re-delegate work out to those who are ahead of schedule in order to help move things along
List tasks in order of priority
- There will be associated tasks that are extremely time-sensitive and therefore integral to the completion of the project
- Identify which tasks are a priority and which aren’t
- Look to categorise each task in accordance with their priority level
- The best way to do this is to use online time management tools, like Monday.com
- Monday.com allows the user to set a task, assign a worker and highlight the importance of each task
- If you don’t have the budget for online tools, use Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to create a table and use a colour key or code to distinguish between each task
Focus on one task at a time
- It’s important that you aren’t starting lots of different tasks and leaving them unfinished for a considerable amount of time
- It’s much easier to keep on top of things if you do each task and mark it off on your to-do list once it’s been done
- This will also help others in your team to understand where you’re at with your workload and whether or not you feel overwhelmed with tasks
- Doing each task at a time is also good for organisation
Do your best to avoid distractions
- For some, this can be a major problem, especially if working from home, but there are things you can do to ensure distractions are kept to a minimum
- Put your phone on silent and store out of sight until lunchtime or the end of the day
- Don’t log in to social media accounts as these can be extremely distracting
- Put some music on, listen to a podcast or simply don’t have anything playing at all, as long as it keeps the background noise out, it will help keep distractions at bay
- If you have headphones in, colleagues will be less likely to come and disturb you, unless it’s important, of course
- Microsoft Teams and other types of software have statuses you can set alongside your name, letting others know you’re busy or telling your peers not to disturb you
Delegate tasks appropriately
- When delegating tasks out to people, make sure they’re the right person for the job
- If a project requires copy to be written, you’d ask a Copywriter and not a Website Designer, but if a website needs to be designed, you’d ask a Website Designer and not a Copywriter, for example
- If you need the client to increase their budget, ask a seasoned, friendly and successful Account Manager to discuss it with them – you know they’ll get good results
- There might be a task that doesn’t require the knowledge of a senior employee, but it still needs to be looked at by a specialist, so ask a graduate to do it for you. This way, they’ll get valuable, relevant experience that can be built upon
Learn to say ‘no’
- It might be that you’re completely snowed under with work and so you can’t take on any more tasks
- If your Project Manager asks you to take on more work, politely explain the situation and decline to pick up additional tasks at this time
- Working out a compromise would be an ideal solution here, especially if your team is quite small
- Explain that you already have a large workload and that once you have completed the priority tasks, you’ll be able to take on some extra work
- If you’re open and honest about how much work you have on, your Project Manager will appreciate it because they’ll then be able to allocate tasks to other people and all in good time
Set manageable, realistic deadlines
- Setting shorter deadlines will ensure that they’re met
- If you have a longer deadline, the more time you have to procrastinate and so you’ll then end up rushing it towards the end just to get the job done
- Set shorter deadlines and be disciplined with all work needed for completion
- Realistic deadlines will also make sure that sub-tasks, tasks and the project as whole will be done within a reasonable timeframe
Understand your limits
- There’s only so much one person can do when it comes to workload
- If you feel overwhelmed or if don’t think you’re coping too well with the amount of tasks you have to do, make sure you speak to your Project Manager about it
- They’ll be able to relieve you of some duties and responsibilities in order to make you feel more content
- A happy workforce with increased morale will, in itself, ensure projects are executed in a timely manner and to an excellent quality
Analyse and reflect on the end results
- At the end of each day, set aside fifteen minutes or so to discuss what’s been done that day
- Highlight this tasks you’ve achieved and note down anything you’ve learnt
- If something went wrong, reflect on that and summarise some areas of improvement
- If you’re going to be managing other people’s time, it’s important that you first are in control of your own time
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