Time is money and that statement rings especially true in a corporate environment. That’s why having good time management skills is crucial not only for project managers, but for your employees as well.
Unfortunately, not all of us are born with the ability to manage our time effectively. In fact, time management is one of those skills that is learned and gets better over time. Until that skill is learned, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of committing time management mistakes.
1. Not Using a Resource Management Software
One of the biggest time management mistakes is not using a resource management software and trying to complete it simply by relying on your memory. But when you rely on your memory, it’s easy to forget a crucial task or let things slip through the cracks. Just think of everything else you need to do on a daily basis. Add all your tasks together and you’ll realise you cannot rely on your mind alone to see a project to completion successfully.
If you are a project manager for your company, talk to your CEO about the possibility of investing in a proper resource management software that will help your team stay accountable and on track.
2. Failing to Prioritise
Once you have access to resource management software, you need to learn the ins and outs of it as well as the features that will let you prioritise the task. Essential tasks or the biggest tasks probably need a higher priority than smaller tasks that rely on the essentials first. Likewise, it’s irrational to expect all the things to get done in the same day as this causes an undue stress with your employees.
You will need to look at the bigger picture and make the decision which task is of the utmost importance that will dictate the deadline for the rest of them. If you need to, come up with your own way to prioritise the tasks and make sure your employees are familiar with it.
3. Not Tracking Your Time
Another big time management mistake is not tracking your time accurately. It’s easy to estimate how long a certain task should take, if you’ve tackled similar projects before. But if you’re introducing new tasks that need to be completed, it’s also easy to completely miss the mark.
Time-tracking is crucial even when you’re adding new employees to your team or bringing on a freelancer for a specific aspect of the task. Having an accurate representation of time spent on a task will ensure everybody gets paid the correct amount for the work performed. It will also help you see where your team lost time or which hours belong into non-billable time. In the long run, time tracking will also help you come up with better projections for any future project.
4. Failing to Manage Distractions
In today’s highly-connected world, distractions are the bane of productivity. Not only social media sites pose a distraction but so do our phones as well as a nice and sunny day. In some cases, distractions cannot be ignored, especially if it’s an emergency situation. But, in most cases, distractions can cost you not only time but money as well.
Limiting the use of company internet is one way to avoid distractions. You can install a firewall that blocks access to certain sites.
The act of putting off for tomorrow what should be done today has been plaguing the human race from the early days. Procrastinating is often caused by not having sufficient skills to complete the task or piling too much onto a single person.
You can mitigate this by getting to know your team as well as their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you assign appropriate tasks to each person. Using resource software is another way to ensure each employee is taking on an equal share of the tasks that need to be done to avoid overwhelm that leads into procrastination.
6. Not Taking BreaksAs unproductive as this may seem, taking regular breaks actually increases your productivity. Our brain needs to refresh on a regular basis so that it can tackle the remaining tasks. Sometimes, a lunch break will be more than enough but if your employees are working overtime in order to meet the deadline, consider introducing a few more short breaks. This will help them regain energy and get back to work with a renewed focus.
7. Not Delegating
Remember that a business is essentially a team. You might be tempted to take on some of the most important tasks yourself to ensure they are carried out effectively. However, this can lead to overwhelm since you should be in charge of the project being completed and as a project manager your duties also involve reporting to your superiors and ensuring the team has all the resources they need to complete a project.
Delegation is a key time management skill. Learn to assign roles within your team and let your team members do the tasks they are better at or quicker than you or another team member.
8. Planning Too Much
Planning is essential if you want to complete the project successfully. But it’s all too easy to go overboard and over plan any project. No plan is foolproof and there may be times where outside factors will come into play and cause you change your plan. Knowing the stage your project is at, how long it will take to complete it and who is responsible for what will give your project plan enough of a leeway to account for unforeseen events and adapt accordingly.
9. Failing to Account for Unforeseen Events
No matter how good of a project manager you are, you should always account for unforeseen events. Life and business can get complicated and sometimes there are outside forces that you can’t prevent that will play a role in how your project gets completed. Sometimes a client may not deliver all the documents in time or they wait too long to give you feedback. Other times, one of your team members may get sick or your company internet may go down for a whole day.
Always allot extra time, resources and funding to ensure you can get past the obstacles that may arise.
10. Working in A Cluttered Space
Some people thrive in cluttered spaces and claim to get more done. In reality, for most people, clutter is the enemy of productivity. When your workspace is cluttered, you’re wasting losing time trying to find important documents or things that are needed for project completion. Encourage your employees to keep a clean and uncluttered workspace so they can easily find the things they need.
Time management is definitely a skill anyone can learn. Start with establishing a system and using a project management software to help you stay accountable and on top of everything that needs to be done. There is no secret formula as anyone is different but by using the tips above and adapting them to your work style, you’ve taken the step in the right direction to manage your time better.