We often make tasks – or series of tasks – more monumental than they need to be. We have a tendency to get stuck working on the same thing over and over again in pieces broken out here and there and we can end up doing this over the course of a week and still never finish that task that should have been accomplished in one hour.
The solution – really look at your project in one hour increments. What can be accomplished in an hour? What can we pound out in 60 minutes in order to move on to the next item (or move on to lunch)? Is it possible to really think this way? I say yes…let’s examine this further…
Most of the PM situations I’ve been in with organizations involved project managers who were handling five or six projects at a time. When you consider this concept along with what for most of us ends up being a normal 8-10 hour day and considering email, phone calls, a little down time, and that some unexpected work will find a way to fit itself into slots of time, you’re left with only about one hour per project per day. Of course, that depends on the project – hot projects may get more time and some projects can go dormant for a week or two and not require any time. But on an average day, you’re left with about 60 minutes to spend on each project every day.
So what can you do in an hour?
Ready, set, go! You have one hour to make a difference on your project…what do you do? You’re probably doing it now, because you have to, but you don’t even realize it. Actually, an hour is more time than you think when it is “real” work time – meaning the email and the phone calls and the extras are removed. Down and dirty work time…that’s what you’re left with.
Time Management is Key
To actually “effectively” manage a project in the one hour increments of time that we likely have available on a per project basis, we need to be:
- Focused (stay free of distractions)
- Stubborn (I think I’ve mentioned this once or twice before)
- Ritualistic – meaning we need to maintain a pretty rigid schedule or ritual for the things we do on our projects
- A good and effective communicator (if we have to re-iterate things over and over to our team members, we’re wasting too much of our time and their time)
I’ve never met a project manager with extra time on his or her hands. It just doesn’t happen. If you have extra time then there’s probably something you’ve overlooked, a large issue headed your way, or you simply probably should be spending more time on one of your projects. It seems as a PM our responsibilities, our project resources’ needs, and our customers’ needs always swell to fill up whatever available time we have.
This isn’t eye opening stuff here. We have the clutter and we have the project work. And we have 8-10 hours to do it all in. And that doesn’t leave you with much real work time on each project that you are overseeing. Most project managers are pretty dedicated and thorough individuals. Especially if they last long in the profession. So you’re probably already doing this and don’t realize it. They key is to be able to touch all your projects as much as is needed each day so that you can feel good about the work you’ve accomplished and sleep well that night. If you can do that, then you’re probably already doing this.