Delivering outstanding results from projects is something that empowered teams always aspire to. But how can you give your team the best opportunity to achieve project success? Project Management could be the missing link in your teams’ performance. Through this 5-part blog series, you’ll realise your teams’ potential as powerful project managers.

If you missed the previous instalment, “Getting organised”, you’ll want to skip back there to give your learning journey the strongest foundations. All caught up? Great, in this instalment, you’ll discover how to maximise and manage your time for Project Management that delivers.


1. Prioritisation

The key to managing your time effectively is making sure that you prioritise how you spend your day. Activities can be sorted by their importance and urgency.

In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People[1], Stephen Covey presents the habit “Put first things, first”. The idea being that effective people (and project managers) are able to identify what is a priority and allocate time to work on that activity. He encourages people to use a sorting matrix to identify the importance and urgency of tasks:

Importance – How much do you want to do this thing or how necessary is it that you complete it? Is it part of the critical path?
Urgency – How soon is the deadline for completing this activity? Do other tasks rely on this being completed?

Once you have identified the tasks that you want to achieve in a given day or week, as well as your priorities, the next step is to plan when to do them. There are different methods of organising your time, which range from rigid to flexible.

2. Time blocking

This is a tool for allocating what you will do with every hour of the day, scheduling all of your work and leisure time. You will need to take time each day or week blocking out your schedule and estimating how long things will take.

The idea of time blocking is that you collect similar tasks and do them in the same block to avoid task switching. When you are in flow, stopping to answer an email or make a phone call breaks your concentration and it takes time to get back into the rhythm. In time blocking, you would save up tasks like answering emails and do them together in a half hour block for efficiency.

3. Setting daily priorities

Use a diary or calendar to jot down the 1-5 most important tasks for that day. Only schedule the really important items so as not to overwhelm the day. When those things are completed, you can take a look at the other items on your to-do list.

4. Rolling list or post-it pile

Collect all of your tasks in one place using either a list or a pile of post-its. This works best when you somehow indicate the size or importance of a task. On a list, this may include colour coding or putting symbols next to items. If you are using post-its, you could have different sizes or colours. Look at your list and see how much time you have – then pick a task. Once it’s done, come back and choose the next thing.

5. Tackling schedule compression

You may identify a need to save time on the project – if it would overrun the deadline or time was the most important factor to your stakeholders. Generally speaking, changing the timing of a project will have an impact on the other project constraints (cost and scope).

The PMBOK guide[2] identifies two key ways of shortening project length:

  1. Crashing – adding extra resources to a task so that it can be done quicker: worker overtime, fast track delivery, extra staff, time-saving equipment. These do add extra costs to the overall project.
  1. Fast tracking – tasks that are normally done in sequence are instead done in parallel, or partially overlapped. This may mean creating the template for your newsletter before the design work has finished, building the beams of a structure before the insides are designed. This may not increase costs if different people were carrying out those jobs anyway. This approach can add extra risk to a project if completion of the first task reveals that part of the second task needs to be undone (the newsletter template doesn’t match the logo sizes or the designs for the structure got changed).

There are 5 powerful tools to effective time management during a project: prioritisation, time blocking, setting daily priorities, rolling lists and being proactive about schedule compression. Your teams can apply these tools to their projects RIGHT NOW for incredible results.

Of course, you want to avoid initiating a rescheduling phase for your project; where an issue in the project requires you to go back to the stakeholder and renegotiate the project. This can also be known as making a change request. Change requests are usually directly related to the three constraints:

Because trust is such an essential element of Project Management success and time slippages or change requests can impact the level of trust between teams and stakeholders, it’s essential for your people to manage their time effectively, communicate with empathy and mitigate risks. Risk management is a substantial element of projects that deliver and you’ll get a thorough insight into how to do this well in the third instalment of this blog series. The next blog post will be published on 6th July. Whilst you’re waiting, you might be interested in these blog posts looking at proactive self-leadership, developing a growth mindset and failure as a necessary learning curve.

If you’re already itching to get started and unlock the Project Management potential and power of your team, The Self Leadership Initiative is here for you. Book in a FREE 30 minute chat with Founder Gemma Perkins to discuss your team’s needs today.

[1] Covey, S. R. (1989). The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Simon and Schuster.
[2] Project Management Institute. A guide to the Project Management Body Of Knowledge, – Fifth Edition