Time management, which is defined as the process of planning, implementing and evaluating conscious control over time spent on specific tasks with the purpose of increasing effectiveness and efficiency, is a concept that project managers should be aware of. After all, these project management professionals are adept at scheduling and monitoring time in relation to the project timelines.

But many project managers appear stressed by the daily demands of their jobs with the most common reason being their failure to apply the principles and practices of time management. Such disconnect may come as a surprise to others but not to project managers whose workload can take herculean efforts to manage on a daily basis.

Fortunately, time management for project managers can be made easy. Keep in mind that effective time management is not just about achieving the project goals within the timeline but, more importantly, also about being an effective leader whose team members look up to with confidence, respect and trust.

1. Identify your time wasters

Each project manager has time robbers or time wasters (i.e., activities that take time away from more productive tasks related to the project). You will have your own time wasters so it is important to sit down, identify your time wasters, and then determine why these are so. Your time robbers may be a few of even all of the following:

  • Casual office conversations
  • Micromanagement of every task
  • Social media activities
  • Inability to refuse others even when it means adding to your workload
  • Numerous personal calls, texts and emails
  • Conflict in priorities
  • Meetings, which are either too many or too prolonged or too far from the site
  • Procrastination

Identify your time wasters

These are just a few examples of time wasters. Regardless of the type, nonetheless, the point here is that these activities have an additive effect such that 24 hours in a day will seem insufficient to accomplish everything on your to-do project list.

Upon identification, you can adopt measures that will reduce the chances that you will become unduly engaged in these time robbers to the detriment of the project. For example, you can set casual office conversations during your coffee break only.

Recommended Reading: Project Manager Personalities

2. Adopt the 20/80 Rule

Adopt the 20/80 RuleThe 20/80 rule is a familiar concept for project managers yet it is one that many will fail to adopt for one reason or another. Known as the Pareto Principle, the 20/80 rule states that a project manager should spend 20% of his time on transactional activities and 80% on transformational activities.

When it is followed, you can perform 20% of your work and yet enjoy 80% of the benefits of performing the entire job. The bottom line: Focus on 20% of the activities that matter specifically the tasks that will produce 80% of your desired results.

3. Use meetings Beyond Status Updates

Effective meetings transcend status updates regarding the project as reported by each team member. Let your meetings become venues where team members can focus on the risks and rewards as well as threats and opportunities affecting the project – or as venues for brainstorming about creative solutions that addresses specific issues.

Just make sure that team meetings have an agreed agenda, place and time that everybody should adhere to, thus, maximizing the time. Avoid letting everybody sit through technical discussions that do not involve them, thus, allowing them to focus on their jobs.

4. Apply Effective Delegation

Even the most talented project manager cannot do everything in the project for obvious reasons. Keep in mind that when you attempt to do everything, you will not do anything exceptionally well – and so the entire team suffers since you are its leader. This is where effective and efficient delegation comes in.

Keep these tips when delegating tasks to team members:

  • Analyse your project management priorities first. Know what to delegate to whom as well as when to expect the desired results including the reports. Remember that you should be spending more of your time on transformational activities (i.e., leadership including communication with stakeholders) than transactional activities.
  • Explore your options. Your team members are not the only persons to whom you can delegate tasks since consultants, among other experts, can also do the work especially the highly technical aspects.
  • Adopt effective and efficient documentation. Be sure to track information, processes, and knowledge about the delegated tasks and its doer.
  • Use technology. It can include scheduling apps, file sharing and online training as well as emails, chats, and video calls, all of which will make communication more effective and efficient (i.e., no walking from one office to the next).
  • Communicate with the team members. In all phases of the project, effective and efficient communication is a must – and this is true for delegation, too. Schedule regular meetings for status updates as well as for issues, risks and opportunities but be sure to use technology, too.

Effective Delegations Tips

Of course, you should cultivate trust in your team members. You have to trust the team members and their ability to deliver on the desired results in the same way that your team members trust you to lead them in the right direction.

5. Prioritise Your Needs

While everything about the project seems to be urgent in nature, very few of these matters are actually so. You must then determine which matters require your urgent attention and appropriate action and which can be set aside for the time being – truly, a challenging task that requires good judgement.

In general, you should tackle the most challenging or most difficult tasks first for two reasons. First, you will not feel like you are running out of time especially when the project is nearing its end since the easy tasks can be quickly taken care of.

Second, you can submit the reports that the upper brass requires and that are usually associated with the difficult tasks. You will be making a favourable impression not only on the upper brass but for your entire team as well.

At the end of the day, your goal is to be as productive as possible so stop micromanaging and let your team members do their jobs.