In any workplace or business, the most important resource anyone has is their own time.
In the case of non-managerial employees, their capacity to achieve during their working lives depends upon how much they are able to deliver during their working hours. For business owners and managerial employees, their capacity to deliver is based around what can be achieved with the combination of their own time and that of those under their supervision or control.
This is no less true of project managers, who must manage multiple demands on their time which if not careful can distract them from their core task of managing projects.
Consequences can be serious. In the US for example, a 1996 survey conducted by the Project Management Institute involved 70 engineers who were asked to rate 70 professional reasons for why project failures occurred. Almost one third of the time, those surveyed suggested, failure could be linked to deficiencies in project management.
Julian Gonzalez, a senior director of product marketing at cloud-based construction software application provider Procore, describes poor time management as one of the most significant risks against which project managers need to mitigate.
Gonzalez said project managers can achieve significant gains through sensible adoption of technology tools.
“A project manager’s time is best spent making sure their projects are operating efficiently, and delivered on time and within budget,” Gonzalez said. “But instead, they tend to spend wasteful hours in agendaless meetings, on unproductive phone calls, and trying to empty flooded inboxes.
“While this may sound like a time management crisis, it’s actually an opportunity to leverage today’s cutting-edge technology to gain efficiencies where valuable time is being lost.”
According to Gonzalez, time can be consumed in a number of ways. This includes composing and responding to emails, becoming tied up in unnecessary and overly lengthy meetings and managing documents.
Data in regard to some of these issues is revealing. In a survey involving 400 white collar workers conducted by the Huffington Post in 2015, workers reported spending an average of 3.2 hours per day checking work-related emails and responding to an average of 72 messages daily. In respect of document management and meetings, Gonzalez says project managers spend an average of two hours and 30 minutes per day on these respectively.
In response, Gonzalez said a common error was to work longer hours. Again looking at the United States and pointing to data in the most recent edition of Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labour Statistics, he says it is not uncommon for project managers to spend up to 60 or 70 hours per week at their jobs.
Instead, he said managers should take control of their time and assume proactive management about how time spent at work is used.
He says project management software can help. This, he says, can eliminate the need for email messages. Combined with a combination of high resolution cameras and Optical Character Recognition, cloud based software can eliminate the need to print, ship, unload and organise postal drawing sets. Project management software can also be help managers refocus on high level tasks and priorities by serving as a dashboard from which problems can be easily identified, Gonzalez said.
For project managers, time spent on non-productive tasks will never be recovered.
To deliver on their potential, adoption of effective time management strategies is crucial.