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As a project manager, how you schedule time is of critical importance. Time management strategies can include everything from the 20/80 rule to understanding your employees, shrinking tasks, assessing dependencies and tackling the tough responsibilities first. Managing time while also balancing a million other jobs is why project management is such a multi-faceted position.

If you’re having issues with your schedule, fear not! There are a variety of techniques that can be utilized to rein in your day and make more of your time.

Time Management Strategies and the 20/80 Rule

A common concept in project management, the 20/80 rule (also known as the Pareto Principle) states that 20% of the work will produce 80% of the results. Therefore, why wouldn’t you identify and focus on completing this section of work first? The value of this principle is that it reminds you to focus on the 20% of tasks that matter and not to get sidetracked with micromanaging.  

Knowing Your Personnel

Do you have freelancers or people working internationally on your project? How are you managing time if everyone isn’t on the same schedule? Modern business can be stretched across the lands, but that’s no excuse for a project manager to have poor time management skills. Understanding what time zones everyone lives in will help you to better schedule meetings, set better performance goals and manage expectations.

Shrink Tasks for Time Management Strategies

Effective time management strategies also involve the ability to decompose tasks into more digestible bites. The more time you put into your work breakdown structure (WBS) the simpler it will be to see the bigger picture.

When work is broken down into smaller pieces, it is easier to estimate the time it will take to complete tasks. For example, if a job can be broken down into a day, instead of a week, it facilitates managing a schedule around that task. Be careful not to break anything down too much to the point where it is taking more time to manage the task, than it is to get it done.

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Reevaluate Dependencies

Time management strategies also include the ability to continuously reassess the project schedule and where dependencies lie. Not all tasks must be done in sequence, and some can be performed in conjunction. Spend a little time working on your project dependencies and evaluate anything that can run concurrently to save time. This will also help you better understand your resource needs at any given moment, which will assist you in planning more efficiently.

The Tough Stuff First

Periodically check your task list and try to work on the more complex jobs first. Therefore, if your time is running low, the easiest tasks will be the only ones left to accomplish. Additionally, stakeholders are typically looking at the most valuable tasks to be completed as soon as possible, so meeting this standard is a double win. Typically, when smaller tasks are late, people are a tad more forgiving on schedule.

The best time management strategies for project managers can vary depending on what works best for you. There are a multitude of methods for not only managing a team, but your personal time as well.

When it comes to being punctual on a project, the 20/80 rule, assessing dependencies, knowing your team, decomposing tasks and tackling the complex jobs first is a really good start. Ultimately, effective time management is about strategy and planning. As long as you have timing somewhere on your plate as a continual process, and are using enterprise project management software, you’ll rarely be surprised with late deadlines.