Effective Time Management Tips
Time is money. Time is of essence. Timing is everything.
These stock phrases hold essential truths for people, organizations and project management.
When managing projects, time is a valuable resource that can make or break the project's success. And while time management tips are as easy to follow, managing a project takes specific time management skills.
But don’t worry. By following these tips, it should provide enough time for reporting, budget tracking, stakeholder meetings and similar tasks, even when unexpected situations arise taking up hours you had already planned for.
Develop core time management skills.
It’s not managing time, it’s also the quality of attention, according to Wharton School of Business Professor Adam Grant. “Often our productivity struggles are caused not by a lack of efficiency, but a lack of motivation,” he wrote in a 2019 New York Times feature. “It’s not about time; it’s about timing.”
So, first start with these basic time management tools:
Focus on what excites you about the project. The task at hand may be dull but don’t forget the big picture.
Set realistic daily and weekly goals. A list of goals can help you keep track, plus gives you the satisfaction of checking off each one.
Set a timer for tasks. Estimate how long you think each task will take, and then try to stay within the estimate. Once the timer goes off, move to the next task.
Prioritize tasks. “Eat the Frog” - Doing the most important tasks first means that what doesn’t get finished won’t keep you up at night.
Block distractions. Put your phone on airplane mode, turn off email notifications, etc. so you can devote your focus to the task at hand.
Get enough sleep! A solid night’s sleep will make you sharper, faster, and more productive.
Add to your core skills.
Most projects require a fair amount of administrative work such as reports, tracking and evaluation. While these categories overlap quite a bit, you can still break up and even divide tasks among staff members to manage a project’s timeline. If you are solely responsible for the project, breaking up complicated or complex tasks will help you keep track of your progress while not overwhelming you.
Use these tips to keep your project on track to meet deadlines:
Develop a timeline. Remember, everything takes longer than you think. Include tentative deadlines, and end your timeline two or three days before the project deadline.
Create a checklist. If you’re relying on others for information and data, create a running list to keep track of tasks, and you could even include when the data is due.
Develop your budget early. If your budget is finalized, you won’t have to adjust activities that you thought you could fund but can’t. Also, you won’t have to go back and change your narrative.
Delegate tasks. Try to find someone, besides you, to assist with the project. If this isn’t possible, allot time every day to check your running list of tasks so it doesn’t overwhelm you.
Stick with a routine that works. We all work most efficiently in different ways. Find out yours, and your team’s, and continue to use them.
Remember the back end. The final tasks in your timeline often take the most time, so allow the right amount of time they need to succeed.
For Grant Management: Develop effective letter samples and templates. Streamlining this process will help you and everyone else tasked with writing letters of support.
And the most important tip... take a break when “stuck.”
When the columns of numbers start to dance on your computer screen or you find it impossible to write the next sentence, just stop. Taking a walk around the office or getting outside for a walk around the block, or switching to an “easy” task, will freshen your juices when returning to writing reports or a narrative.
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