Time Management for Project Managers
Time management for project managers is one of the essential skills to master. Successful projects are those that are completed on time and budget, and we’re here to help you do exactly that.
Every project manager has faced a situation where they wish they’d have more time to complete a milestone or a project. Especially if you’re a beginner, time management for project managers may seem complicated, yet it can be done.
Keep in mind is that there is always a way out of every situation. Undoubtedly, tight deadlines, multiple clients, large teams, unexpected emergencies, and hundreds of tasks make your life harder. However, it’s nothing you can’t deal with our project management tips!
In this article, we have comprised some fundamental tips for time management for project managers. These tips will help you to proceed quickly and correctly in time-sensitive situations.
1. Master the art of prioritization
The constant struggle of there being a lot of work is real, and if you don’t learn to deal with it, no time management strategies for managers will save you. In fact, correct prioritization has been numerously acknowledged to be the number one time-saver by many veteran project managers.
The tricky part with correct prioritization is that it’s never what it seems to be. Also, there are multiple sides to prioritization. It’s never just about deciding which task comes after the other. When you’re still in the planning phase, prioritization may seem absurdly easy, up to a point where you put it aside and don’t come back until it’s too late. For instance, many project managers try to prioritize their task lists. However, if they look closely, a large portion of those tasks shouldn’t have ended on a task list in the first place.
As contradictory as it may sound, prioritization isn’t about getting more work done. It’s about filtering tasks. When looking at everything from that perspective, it suddenly becomes evident that you’re wasting time on tasks that carry extremely small ROI in terms of overall project success.
When thinking in terms of time management for project managers, there is a distinction between “important tasks” and “urgent tasks.”
Important tasks are the ones that lead you to achieve your goals and directly influence the success of the project. Urgent tasks demand immediate attention but usually lead to achieving other, less important goals. Yet, we concentrate on those because the consequences of not dealing with them are almost always immediate.
Lastly, prioritization is about choosing which idea to focus on out of a pool of great ideas. It’s not hard to choose between good and bad. However, most difficulties arise when you’re faced with a choice between good and good.
2. Plan, plan, plan. Then plan some more.
Planning, the aspect as old as the world of project management itself, is what you need to dedicate time and effort to master next. Planning and time management go hand in hand. The better you get at it, the higher project success rates you’ll achieve.
There are a few levels of planning that you need to take into account, including both major and minor. Planning should also be dynamic. Whatever you think is the correct way to proceed at the start will almost always prove to be wrong in one way or another as you progress. This is perfectly normal and also inevitable. When priorities shift, new emergencies and unexpected situations arise, leaving you no choice but to adapt.
What most project managers seem to overlook when it comes to planning and time management is the short day-to-day planning, also known as a weekly and/or daily to-do list. Sit down and draft a list of tasks you need to complete each week while keeping time management for project managers in mind.
These small elements are usually unique for each project manager and depend on the personality. For instance, if you enjoy taking multiple short breaks during your work, it’s important to include these in your plan, because as you should know, small things tend to add up. Maintaining a to-do list is very easy with project and time management tools like monday.com and Zoho since they have dedicated planning features.
Also, you have to be honest with yourself. If you simply keep adding tasks and knowingly dedicate too little time to each one, it’s not going to work. You’ll eventually fail and end up in a frantic mess. And that’s what you wanted to avoid in the first place, right?
3. Never multitask
Ever heard how people boast about their abilities to multitask and get more stuff done at the same time? We hate to disappoint you, but that can’t be further from the truth.
In fact, if there is one thing that’s driving your time management skills down the hole, it’s multitasking. In fact, numerous scientific studies and research have proven that multitasking inhibits productivity.
The thing is that the human brain wasn’t designed to focus on multiple tasks at once, and this is easy to test. For instance, all of us can keep up a conversation while having a coffee. However, keeping up a conversation, having a cup of coffee and writing a business email at the same time suddenly becomes hard. Give it a try, and you’ll find that it’s much faster to finish with one of these tasks, and proceed with others rather than try and do them at the same time. Seriously, if you’re going to have a single takeaway from this article, it should be “ban multitasking forever.”
4. Limit procrastination
Among other time management strategies for project managers, this little guy deserves more attention that he gets. Like most of us, you’ll probably be reluctant to admit that you procrastinate during the workday. However, this doesn’t change the truth. We all know that it’s impossible to focus on work for eight hours a day without letting your mind wander off or take a break from the chaos.
I’m not suggesting to eliminate procrastination, because that will prove to be a little short of impossible, but limiting it is what you can and should do. Do you like watching YouTube videos? Then set a limit of two to three minutes instead of going through the whole channel. Do you love socializing on the web? Then set five to ten minutes. Don’t let it get to the point when you’re absentmindedly scrolling your news feed and thinking “just a couple more posts.”
Get the satisfaction and rest that you need and get back to work. Often, the hardest part of working is actually starting to work. Once you’re past that point, it all becomes much easier.
5. Learn to delegate
Introducing another time management for project managers killer: doing everything yourself. Many people tend to believe that this way, the final quality of the task will always be higher than when delegating parts of it. However, remember that there is a big difference between getting the job done and delivering the final version of something.
Let’s take an easy example: writing this article. It may often take anywhere from two to five hours to complete it. However, writing down the last paragraph doesn’t mean that the project is finished. There is also editing, proofreading, link building, formatting, and publishing to do. These tasks alone would take around one to two hours. Furthermore, you don’t need to be an expert writer to create the first draft.
When faced with such tasks, consider delegating the “dirty” work to a team member and do the finalization part yourself. After all, the end product is what matters, not the process. Proggio, a leading time management tool, can help with delegating tasks and improving time management for project managers.
Time is indeed of the essence, and every project manager knows this. Follow the above-mentioned time management for project managers tips or at least try to include them in your day-to-day operations. Slowly but surely, you’ll notice how efficiency and productivity grows, and if that’s the case, you’re doing something right.