Better Time Management

I have had cause to reflect on time management as we try to teach a (sometimes impatient) 4 year old the concept of time. We have done this by buying a 1-hour visual timer, that is clearly readable. The box suggests that this can lead to “better time management”.

Visual Timer

Visual Timer

Lists of Project Management

It has been said that Project Management is just managing four lists. Lists of:

  • Resources
  • Tasks
  • Costs and
  • Risks

However that is rather simplistic, and we could add many more lists to this:

  • Lists of Issues, Stakeholders, Objectives, Priorities, Dependencies, Assumptions, Key dates, Work Content, Durations, Milestones, Meetings, etc., etc.

It is the interaction and dependencies between all of these things which makes project management difficult. Project Management becomes a mass of apparent “must-do” actions, and projects fail when things get forgotten.

So here is a quick look at some Project Management Time management Systems that might be useful:

  • Kanban Boards
  • Important v Urgent
  • Must Should Could

Each is described below.

Kanban Boards

I have written about how to use Kanban boards previously as a tool to visually see:

  • What needs to be done
  • Current tasks being done, and
  • Tasks that have already been completed.

The blog concluded that using such a board was motivational and psychological as well as a useful visual tool.

Important v Urgent

Another way for a project manager to prioritise tasks is to classify them as Important and Urgent.

Important v Urgent

Important v Urgent

Urgent is the phone ringing (it might be a cold call). Important is arranging a personal annual medical check. Very often we do the urgent things rather than the important tasks.

This method can be applied by auditing what you do during the day, and then analysing the tasks into these four categories. Take action to reduce your workload of tasks by delegation, or by not doing the least important tasks.

Must Should Could

A further tool for time management for project managers is to separate tasks into three – Must do, Should do, and Could do.

At the start of the week audit your workload into these categories, and tackle the ‘Must’ tasks first. You could make this visual by using a Kanban board colour coded to ‘Must’, ‘Should’, and ‘Could’ tasks.

At the end of the week, tasks are reviewed, so a ‘Should’ task that hasn’t been done, becomes either a ‘Must’ or ‘Could’ task for the following week.

A further adaption is to add ‘Won’t’  – sometimes called the MoSCoW method. I’ve seen this in use on a software project, where a list of user requirements or features were categorised in this way. This clarified what was going to get coded as a priority, and also removed the ‘nice to have’s’ from the initial work.

Better time Management

All these methods will help towards improved time management skills.

Project Management might be just managing a list of tasks and required actions. However that list can grow very quickly, and Project Managers need tools to help them manage time better.

Posted On: 10th October 2019

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