Good time management is essential for project managers…

‘The bad news is that time flies. The good news is – you’re the pilot’. Michael Altshuler

Project Manager Alan Fudge* had a reputation and was known throughout the organisation – for all the wrong reasons!

‘Ron,’ he confided, handing me a glass of red wine ‘the problem is I cannot settle down. I seem to flit from project to project without any clear steer’. He gave a half smile, took a sip from his glass ‘To be honest, I am not clear what my overall plans are for today, and as for next week – phew! – no chance!’

I said nothing as he motioned us to sit down on lounge chairs at the end of the bar away from the main hubbub of the conference lunch.

He went on, ‘You see, I love email….’ he paused and ‘….and I have been told I interrupt too many meetings and people……’ He quickly took a large gulp of his wine.

I watched him as he then started to twirl the stem of the large glass.

‘How would you describe your meeting style Alan’, I ventured.

‘My meeting style? Hah!’ he shook his head. ‘Well, kind of…er…’he struggled for words, ‘Open, yes definitely ‘ open’! I let him continue. ‘No agendas Ron, usually last a good couple of hours.. …is that the sort of thing you mean?’

He then gave a hollow laugh, ‘Yeah, its rubbish isn’t it! Okay, okay. Ron, what’s going wrong? What can I do about it? I’m not enjoying my work and I do get the feeling people do not enjoy working with and for me.

Well I said you have taken the first step. He looked at me and asked, ‘what do you mean?’

‘You recognise that something is not right. You are not enjoying your work. You are suggesting that you do not seem quite as well organised as you should clearly be. You admit to a number of areas where you can improve on. Many many people do not get anywhere as close as you to looking at themselves and admitting to areas to improve on.

He visible perked up at this point. 

‘So, let’s come back to what you can do about it……’

We spent 6 sessions going over his work. I acted as his coach and listened to him, asked appropriate questions and made some suggestions, including getting some feedback from his colleagues. It was as he said very painful. He read, he analysed and found out that he was known throughout the organisation – for the wrong reasons. So he started to do things differently. He started to change his behaviour.

That was 8 months ago and now he has smartened up his act. He has developed some really strong self management techniques. He regularly delivers against his milestones and his reputation has risen in the organisation. He even has a favourite quote:

“For every minute spent in organising, an hour is earned” Benjamin Franklin

So project managers, what is your time management like? What do people say about the way you organise yourself and others? Where do you need to develop and what new behaviours do you need to adopt and which ones to let go?

Alan Fudge* had a second quote which I really like:

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr. quotes

* Name changed!

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8 Responses to Good time management is essential for project managers…

  1. Pingback: Good time management is essential for project managers…

  2. Dan says:

    Great article.

    If you’d like a tool for managing your projects, you can use this application inspired by David Allen’s GTD:

    You can use it to manage and prioritize your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    A mobile version and iCal are available too.

  3. Ron says:

    Thanks Dan, appreciate the comments.

    I have had a very brief look at your web site. Looks very interesting. Personally, I have not found any of these tools to be very useful….I did say personally! However, it is interesting that some people have found the tools more time consuming than managing their work/projects.

    I am only reporting what others have said…which I support!!

    Ron Rosenhead

  4. Great story Ron! I really enjoyed it!

    I feel like Alan was me about 4-5 years ago! My natural tendency is to bounce between activities, be unorganized with a messy desk, etc. Since then I have put in place several techniques that have become habits, which force structure and organization. I am much happier! Most of these things are focused on preventing bad multi-tasking, which I’ve written about extensively on my website. Some are just keeping clutter down. My desk is spotless now, because I either file or trash any paper immediately if possible, and won’t allow myself to leave the office without having done so for the day.

    Again, great post!

    Josh Nankivel
    The Art of Project Management

  5. imee says:

    Yap! there are a lot of books, tools, paraphernalia, etc. existing. most of it find helpful but the best way for me is discipline your self in dealing this so called time management.
    God Bless!

  6. Ron says:

    Josh, do you want to share any of the things you did to prevent multi tasking? I’m sure they would be of use to many of us.


  7. Sure thing Ron. My site is peppered with comments on avoiding bad multi-tasking (on projects and personally), but these two posts address the issue head-on:

    Multitasking, Covey and TOC – discussion of bad vs good multitasking, examples of what I do personally to avoid bad multitasking, illustration of the time savings & early release of work involved.

    SCRUM Concepts in Traditional PM (What’s wrong with bad multitasking anyway? – revisit good vs bad multitasking, using the SCRUM concept of a war room session to focus a team and avoid bad multitasking

    And a somewhat related method of having your team “eat their frogs first” with individual project tasks.
    Critical Chain Benefits From Traditional PM

    Josh Nankivel

  8. alex says:

    save to my Bookmarks 🙂

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