5 Steps to Improve Time Management for Project Managers

January 25, 2016

Time is a limited resource. There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and 52 weeks in a year. As a project manager, this is something you cannot change. But you can learn to utilize this limited resource in the most effective way possible. Time management is important because as a project manager you are managing not only your own time, but the time of your entire team. The success of your projects depends heavily on your time management skills.

Here are 5 steps to help you improve time management. They will help you better prioritize project tasks and utilize your team’s time and skillsets to consistently deliver projects on time and within budget.

Step 1: Establish a Project Baseline before You Begin

You can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is.  Establishing a project baseline, often referred to as a performance measurement baseline, is one of the most important steps for project time management and success. This baseline should include the original project scope, work breakdown structure (WBS) and associated project phases with key milestones and dates.  Publish progress reports on a weekly basis to learn how project performance is tracking to the original plan. Any change to the original project scope will require an adjustment to this baseline.

Step 2: Assign Your Project Resources Effectively

Know your team well: understand their skillsets, workloads and the estimated time it takes them to complete various tasks. When resources are assigned appropriately and time managed well, projects have a higher likelihood of success.  On the other hand, poor allocation of resources and mismanagement of team time will lead to budget overages, missed milestones, and under or over utilization which increases the risk of project failure. To avoid these problems ensure your project management software includes resource utilization tools.

Step 3: Utilize a Project Scheduling and Task Tool

When you develop a project schedule, you establish a timeline – a linear sequence of work showing when you expect to execute all of the project tasks leading to project completion. Building a detailed project schedule can be challenging because of all of the unknown variables you may encounter; however, it is a key element of project planning and time management.  This is where a project scheduling and task tool helps as it gives you a real-time, birds-eye view into a project’s status. It is a visualization tool that displays workloads, budgets and scope and can show you how these are impacted as you schedule future work or as the project scope changes. Online project scheduling and task software makes it easy for project managers to share project schedules with their teams, clients and partners so everyone is onboard and working efficiently.

Step 4: Take training to boost your Project Management Skills

With the ever-increasing workloads and deadlines you face as a project manager, time management has never been more important. The more you learn and the more you boost your project management skills, the more efficiently you will be able to do your job. Seek out project management training to keep up-to-date on the most recent advancements in project management methods and best practices.  Ideally the project management training you take should also include hands on training that shows you how to leverage project management software for budgeting, time and expense tracking, resource planning, scheduling, and reporting.

 Step 5: Utilize Project Management Software to Boost Time Management

To manage time and projects efficiently you need to be able to accurately track time and expenses and other project costs in real-time and attribute them to the right projects. Project management software is designed to handle all of the project variables project managers will face: dealing with variable contract and billing terms, tracking direct and indirect costs, splitting time between phases, customizing invoices and more. Doing all of these things manually can negatively impact time management as well as data accuracy and project delivery.

Good time management is the key to project success.  Although time is limited there are ways you can accomplish more with less effort. Through effective time management and project-based software tools you can optimize your time management and increase the likelihood of project success.  With more time on your hands you’ll be able to focus on creative aspects of your projects that you enjoy and that add significant value for your firm and clients.

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