Time is what we want most, but use worst William Penn
You probably think, Damn, I wish I had some more time, far too often. There always seems to be so much work that absolutely needs to be completed, but somehow there is always no time for everything.
Since we are not experienced in the art of chronomancy to extend the day beyond 24 hours, we need to learn to do what we can during those hours and get enough rest at the end to be able to fight another day.
As a smart project manager, you need to learn just one thing: there is always a way out. Sure, tight deadlines, hundreds of tasks, dozens of clients, unexpected emergencies, and large teams make time management pretty tough, but its possible.
Here are five solid time management strategies from top managers in the world that, when combined together, will help you manage your time most effectively and help you actually to get some work done every day, bit by bit.
Strategy #1: Prioritize Your Tasks and Avoid Overloading
Mastering prioritization is the first step of any effective time management strategy you need to take before you can get closer to effective time management. Its impossible to do everything at once, but there are always matters that just simply outweigh others and need to be done first.
Prioritizing correctly might seem like no big deal at first, but the more you start doing it, the more complex it will seem. Practice prioritizing for a few days and see how it goes. If you see that what seemed to be important proved to be more of a secondary task, then you should try again. Once you get comfortable with your prioritization techniques, move on to the next step.
Multitasking is what kills your time more than anything else. The only guy in history that actually succeeded at multitasking was Bonaparte, and we all know that things didnt really work out that well for him in the end. However, he did leave his trace in history. We should credit that.
Dont try to be a superhero. You cant do everything at once effectively. This is not how good time management strategies work. Our brain wasnt designed to focus on more than two tasks at once (you can probably talk and drink coffee at the same time, but talking, drinking coffee, and writing a report might suddenly become undoable, right?), so dont try to outsmart nature.
Eliminating multitasking will let you focus on each individual task to your full capacity and help you finish it in much less time. So unless you are simply trying to be remembered as the master of multitasking in your company and really want to get stuff done, eliminate multitasking right after you finish reading this article.
Strategy #2: Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
Once youve set your priorities in the correct sequence, its time to get down to the good old planning system, which is as old as the world itself but never disappoints when done correctly.
This time it will not be a project plan but an action plan for every day of the week. Create personalized to-do lists to keep in mind the important tasks that you outlined for yourself previously and dedicate a specific amount of time (try to estimate it as close to reality as possible) for each task of your day.
Its crucial to be completely honest with yourself when planning your time management strategies. If you knowingly dedicate too little time for a given task but try to justify it by something like I can manage this, no worries”, its not going to work. You will end up messing up your plan from the first day, which will make all of this a complete waste of time.
If you know you need some rest between tasks, or just crave to have an extra cup of coffee or two, include that time into your plan. Disregarding small elements like those will eventually add up and you will suddenly find yourself around an hour or maybe two short each day, which is why you are making the plan in the first place, right?
One good tip is to make the plan adjustable or make a new plan every week. This way, you can fit in all the new stuff that will come up in the future, get rid of some tasks if you need to, and shift priorities in case its necessary.
Stop procrastinating. Nobody likes this term and even fewer people would admit that they procrastinate during the workday. But you and I know the truth right? Its simply impossible to work nonstop for 8-12 hours a day, without having small breaks or letting your mind wander off.
I am not suggesting eliminating procrastination since it will prove to be a little short of impossible, but limiting it is what you can and should do. Do you enjoy YouTube videos? Then watch no more than 2 or 3, instead of going through the whole channel. Do you like socializing on the web? Chat a bit with your friends, but dont let it get to the point when you find yourself just scrolling your newsfeed pointlessly and telling yourself just 2 more minutes.
Limit this time to get the satisfaction and rest that you need and get back to work. I always find that the hardest part is to just start working, but when you do, you get consumed by it in just a matter of minutes.
Strategy #3: Delegate the Most Time-Consuming Stuff to Others
There is a huge difference between completing a job and having the final version ready. Take writing, for example. Writing down an article often takes around 2 hours (plus minus 30 minutes), but editing, proofreading, formatting, and mostly polishing it to be ready for publishing takes almost half the writing time. And guess what, thats not something you need to be an expert in to do. You just need to be attentive, focused, and dedicate enough time to it.
What I am saying is that when you face such tasks in your own projects, consider getting them done by ~90% and delegate the finalization and polishing to other team members. Delegation is a part of an efficient time management strategy that will free up a lot of space for you and help you get your mind off the given task, allowing you to move on. Time is the most valuable resource we have in our life.
Every great project manager knows the true value of time and tries to maximize its amount as best as possible. If you are aware of the same problem, then you are on the right track to becoming a truly great manager and this article is your best starting point.
Strategy #4: Consider Adopting Time Management Solutions
Time management solutions are specifically built to help your teams keep better control of their time and performance. With their help, you can:
- Track, plan, and manage your teams workload
- Streamline daily operations
- Keep project timelines and deadlines under control
- Improve the overall team productivity
- Cut down employee stress levels and avoid burnout
When it comes to time management tools, simplicity is the key to success. When selecting a solution for your team, make sure its easy to use for everyone. Most of the companies offer a free trial, so you can always test a variety of tools and pick the one that fits you most.
Another important thing is to find a time management tool that encourages team collaboration and allows keeping everyone on the same page. For instance, while the entire team has an opportunity to log their time into the system, a team manager should have access to this data to make sure everyone has enough time to do their job and there are no delays in project timelines.
Strategy #5: Encourage the Use of Time Tracking Tools and Gantt Charts across the Team
While most project management tools introduce time tracking functionality, its important to show your team different tools that can improve your time management strategies.
Time tracking features allow you to:
- See how much time you spent on less important tasks
- Prioritize projects and focus on more important and profitable ones
- Get insights into your team workload and reassign tasks as required
- Plan short- and long-term activities
Gantt Chart is another great tool that can power your time management strategies. It is great for long-term planning purposes when you need to know whether you:
- Have enough resources to complete existing and new projects
- Need to hire new in-house staff or freelancers
- Should arrange extra training for your team
Time Management Apps Worth Trying Out
Birdview PSA is a full-cycle platform that helps professional service delivery teams plan, manage, and forecast resources, projects, timelines, and finances in one place. Besides advanced resource management functionality, Birdview PSA offers robust time management features to let your team members pick the most convenient time tracking method to log their time spent, including billable and nonbillable hours. Meanwhile, managers can create time reports to accurately plan and monitor project timelines and team performance, as well as bill clients based on time logs.
Key Features: Resource Management (Resource Loading Center), Project Management and Collaboration, Time Management, BI Reporting and Forecasting, Free Client Portal
Pricing: Starts at $18.88 per user per month (depending on user type)
Trial: Free 14-day trial
Toggl Track is a time tracking software that provides teams with robust time management tools to help them keep track of their daily activities and multiple projects. Toggl also offers reporting and invoicing functionalities to help project managers better track the organizations profitability and productivity, as well as ensure their team stays on top of its performance.
Key Features: Time Tracking, Reporting, Project and Revenue Tracking, Team Scheduling and Management
Pricing: Starts at $9 per user per month (depending on the pricing plan)
Trial: Free 30-day trial
Harvest is a timesheet, time and expense tracking tool that helps businesses of all sizes capture the most important data to keep current projects under control and better plan for future work. The additional reporting functionality allows getting valuable insights into project expenses, time spent, and involved resources to make sure your team keeps up with deadlines and established budgets.
Key Features: Time Tracking, Reports and Analysis, Invoicing and Payments
Pricing: Starts at $12 per user per month (depending on the pricing plan)
Trial: Free 30-day trial