Time Management in a Fast Paced Environment: Part Two
Let’s be honest: as a Project Manager, keeping track of project information can be difficult during the best of times; let alone when you are responsible for multiple efforts! With several stakeholders requesting different information and team members continually updating you on their progress through their tasks, sometimes finding the time to complete even the most necessary of tasks can be a stretch on your already strained daily and weekly schedules. I would like to offer you a few small tips and tricks that I use while managing projects that may be of some use to you during your project management efforts.
Tip: Setting and holding effective project status meetings.
Step one: don’t have status meetings! I am kidding of course, but there is an air of seriousness in the statement. Project status meetings, like any other meetings or events that occur outside the boundaries of your projects, detract from your project team’s effectiveness and limit their available time to work on your solution. This being the case, I recommend that you set your project status meetings with the mentality of providing the maximum amount of value while requiring a minimal amount of your teams’ times.
My recommendation is setting up a consistent schedule for your project status meetings using the smallest amount of time necessary for your project. Myself, I prefer holding weekly meetings that last no more than a half hour; if I happen to be running several projects at once (and seriously, who is not these days?) I try to schedule these meetings in a block together in the same room (or conference number for virtual teams) on the same day. This gives the team a measure of stability as they will always be performing the same activity at the same time every week, and for my part it allows me to focus on one specific activity across all my teams consistently.
Why a half hour? Except on the largest projects, in my own experience a half hour is enough to update a week’s worth of project schedule activities and capture any risks or issues, as well as distribute action items for their hopeful future resolution. The time constraint forces you and your project team to stay on task, as well as having some additional ancillary benefits. Ultimately, with a half hour meeting only the core project team should be in attendance, or occasionally extended team members that are performing tasks during the week in question. This limits extraneous conversations and questions from outside stakeholders and lets the team truly focus on the matter at hand while removing your team from project work as little as possible.
So what happens if an issue comes up that needs further discussion or requires additional people? In these situations I have found it beneficial to table the discussion until after the meeting and have a focused discussion with the individual and any others that are necessary without involving the entire team: once again, the more people that sit in meetings, the less of an opportunity they have to deliver for your project.
If your team is using a PPM solution like Project Server with our new PPMX solution you’re in even better shape; status meetings might not need to occur for smaller efforts and your tasks management can be handled by team members themselves. This will certainly save both you and your teams time and will provide information more quickly for project tracking.
Effective Time Management is crucial to the success of your project efforts. Please join me here for more Time Management tips and tricks, as well as further Project Management information in the future!
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