If you’re leading a project in your agency, it’s pretty common knowledge that you will have multiple people demanding your time (and we’re talking upwards of about 10 or more people!). From coordinating tasks to helping resolve conflicts amongst your team members and clients, things do add up and it will seem like there is not a sufficient amount of time to get them done. Carrying tasks out with a time scale is the only way to make the project a success.
Might I mention that the above are just SOME of the challenges you’ll need to face to make sure that each job is delivered within the given time frame for your project to be a success. Like what? Every day you need to:
- Prioritize tasks
- Perform tasks around those priorities
- Save time on executing each task (evaluate the critical path for the project)
- Logically schedule the tasks
- Effectively allocate resources
- Budget the amount of time to be spent on various tasks, and
- Create an effective work environment
- And… Time management acting as your core function as a project manager.
Project time management can be overwhelming… luckily for you, you stumbled across this article to help give you some techniques and tools to enable yourself as an effective project manager.
Having a to do list.
To be an effective project manager, you need to ensure the tasks you are responsible for are, well, getting done on time. If you develop a habit of forgetting or overlooking some actions, your team can start to lose confidence in your management.
It sounds simple and we don’t want to make it super complicated because all the to-do list apps pretty much do the same thing (with an occasional pretty UI). Your list should capture all activities that you need to execute to meet your goals and commitments in the near to medium term. My main point? You need one. Download Clear or Wunderlist and sync it will all your devices.
If you’re looking to actually manage your team’s time and work flow, use a time-tracking software. Chances are you’re already using something like Freshbooks or Harvest, but it’s not actually tailored to your agency’s needs. Choose one that does. To top it off, include a weekly standup and have each team member go over their projects, and tasks from those projects.
Time blocking, and resource allocating.
Once each team member has identified essential tasks during your traditional standup meetings in your agency, allocate and block off each team members time. You should then of course, block off some time in your calendar to focus on each your tasks. You will essentially be scheduling time to complete each task so you know how long things take and can schedule enough time to do them. When blocking off time in your calendar to execute tasks, leave room to handle unexpected interruptions such as urgent tasks that come up from poor planning, or a team member who stops by to discuss some things with you.
Be strong you PMs.
For effective project time management, you need to learn to say “no”. You need to stick to the plan; it is super easy to get sidetracked on other things and soon your project cam fall apart. Some of the things you need to say no to include;
- Inundation of telephone calls, emails, etc.
- Too many informal office conversations
- Too many meetings with no CTA’s
- Lack of technical knowledge
- General work overload
- Conflicting priorities
Eliminate the unnecessary.
Much like only choosing the most important features of an application, only choose the most important tasks to spend your time. A crucial element of project and time management entails eliminating what does not need to be done. Sometimes, tasks are done by custom rather than what’s really needed. Getting rid of such tasks frees up your time to plan for all of the other things on your plate, and helps you manage your project better.
Apple has long used a schedule for annual product releases and software updates… I even thing it’s a type of secret formula for their near-perfect product marketing. Needless to say, having such a structure is fundamental to keeping your projects moving forward and your team members consistently innovating. Ambitious deadlines push people beyond their comfort zone and come in handy in case of unexpected delays.
Do not shy away from passing on tasks to your team members and subordinates as needed. Bear in mind you are not superhuman, and if you try to do everything by yourself, you will often wind up not doing anything with the best quality and time frames. It can also lead to the feeling that you do not have faith in your team, and this can lead to animosity that only works to hurt your time deadlines and quality expectations.
Learn to make quick decisions.
It may sound obvious, but often we brood too long over decisions, second-guessing ourselves to a state of internal confusion. Hint: this isn’t the best use of our time. Note that the overall time spent on a decision means more overall time used on the project. The best approach is to adopt a culture of making trivial decisions quickly. Ideally, keep lines of communication open so that you give authorization as soon as your team members need it to move on with tasks. Above all, avoid procrastination and run effective meetings to brainstorm and solve problems. Make sure that the right people attend the meeting and stick to the point.
Tackle the difficult things first.
By this, it means looking at yours to-do list and striving to get the more complicated task out of the way ahead of time. By tackling them first, you can rest in knowing that the easiest tasks pending will not cause your grief if the clock begins ticking fast… and faster. Further, more complex tasks are normally the most valuable to the upper brass, which means getting them done ahead of time will be reviewed favorably as opposed to having them late over and over again. It also gives your team more faith knowing that the hard tasks have already been done, other than knowing the hard part is yet to come.
What time management techniques do you use as a Project Manager? Have you ever heard of the Eisenhower method? And do you use it?
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