Project Time Management: Strategies, Tips & Tools

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Time is not on your side when it comes to project management. Work piles up and deadlines approach quickly. While project managers haven’t figured out how to bend time and space to their bidding, there are time management techniques that you can use to manage the time you spend on tasks.

No, it’s not science fiction, it’s project time management. Managing project time requires planning, scheduling, monitoring and control tasks throughout the project life cycle. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the beginning.

What Is Project Time Management?

Project time management is the project management process of analyzing work and developing a timeline to ensure you complete a project within a particular schedule.

There are six steps when managing project time:

  1. Define Activities: Define all the tasks necessary to produce the project’s final deliverable.
  2. Sequence Activities: Set the order of the tasks and deliverables.
  3. Estimate Resources: Identify what resources are needed (as well as the quantity) to complete tasks and produce deliverables.
  4. Estimate Duration: Figure out how long each task will take to complete and estimate the duration of the entire project timeline.
  5. Develop Schedule: Using the above information, create a project schedule.
  6. Control Schedule: Develop a strategy to mitigate risk and address changes to the project schedule when it’s executed.

The time management steps above require input from your project team, but also stakeholders and other parties involved in the project in order to be as accurate as possible. Your project time management plan is not static, and must be reviewed and revised throughout the life cycle of the project.

Why Is Project Time Management Important?

Projects are intimidating. There’s a lot to do, with usually little time or money to do it. There’s no room for mistakes, which can be costly and time-consuming. Stakeholders like certainty—and while you can’t promise them everything will run like clockwork, you can certainly do your best to manage time.

Project time management gives you an opportunity to break a project down into more manageable parts, such as tasks. In fact, project time management works perfectly with task management and resource management to keep you on schedule.

By assigning time to each task in your project, you can control the project timeline and deliver as scheduled. Whether that’s with a to-do list, or more robust project management software, you can prioritize tasks, identify dependencies and set milestones to help track progress.

Project management software can help manage all those moving parts. ProjectManager is a cloud-based software equipped with time management tools to track your team’s work in real time. You also get an overview with a live dashboard and one-click reporting. Try ProjectManager free today!

ProjectManager project time management dashboardProjectManager project time management dashboard
See how much time your project is taking with ProjectManager’s real-time dashboard.—Learn More!

Time Management Strategies

There are many strategies for managing project time on projects:

  • Follow the six steps above: This is crucial for organizing and scheduling your work. You need to know how you are spending your time. That includes logging hours for yourself and your team.
  • See how long each task is taking: Compare this to the time you estimated. If there’s a discrepancy, look into why and adjust your schedule. Maybe that task should be done when your team is fresh, whether that’s first thing in the day or week.
  • Focus on your tasks: Keep your task list organized. Whether you’re using a simple to-do list or project management software, organize your tasks by the due date to see when they must be completed.
  • Whatever you do, don’t over-commit: Sometimes it’s best to leave a task that’s taking too much time and move onto the next one. It might seem counter-intuitive, but that’s what project time management is all about: efficiency.
  • Use the 80/20 rule: The 80/20 rule states that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your work. What that means is learning to optimize your workload by prioritizing tasks and time.
  • Use the right project time management tools: Project management software can save time by streamlining and automating the work that bogs you down during the day.

Project Time Management Tool Examples

There are many software tools that address project time management. Some of the basics are as follows:

Timesheets

Timesheets are a necessity. Teams want to get paid, and timesheets streamline the payroll process while giving project managers insight into how much time their teams are spending on tasks. By tracking their performance, managers can see who is working well and who might need further resources to get back on schedule.

Reports

To get more data on the progress of the project and the performance of your team, use project reporting. Most project management software has multiple project reports, such as status reports, reports on time and costs. They all provide different perspectives on the project and how time is being used.

Schedule Baseline

In order to accurately track your progress, you need to set a baseline. A baseline captures the project schedule plan, so you can compare the plan to your actual progress. Cloud-based software provides live time tracking data and lets you see if the project is going off-track.

Historic Data

To stay on track, you need accurate time estimates. One of the best ways to research this is by comparing your project to similar ones in the past. Using that historical data gives you a clearer picture of how much time you could expect to spend.

Time Management Tips

For one, keep a to-do list. It sounds like an obvious step towards managing project time, but you’d be surprised how many people aren’t intentional when trying to work more productively. Keeping your work on scraps of paper or littering your screen with Post-Its is a sure-fire way of missing important work.

Next, you’ll want to manage distractions. This has become a big problem, as many in the workforce are doing their jobs remotely or from home. If you have the space available, set up a home office in a secluded part of your living space.

Finally, create a schedule for yourself. Whether you’re working from home or in an office, time blocking is the best defense against slack in your schedule. Scheduling tasks in a project is macro and scheduling your work is micro. Together they tie a tight knot around time and squeeze out the most from it. Do all that and you’re managing time effectively and improving your time management skills.

How ProjectManager Helps With Project Time Management

Is there project management software that can do all that and more? Yes. ProjectManager is a cloud-based software that delivers real-time data to track time as it’s spent, letting you monitor progress as it happens. But that’s just the start of what ProjectManager can do to help you stay on track and manage project time effectively.

Create Start-to-Finish Plans on Gantt Charts

Organize your tasks on ProjectManager’s online Gantt chart. Not only can it link dependencies and set milestones, but you can also filter for the critical path in your project. Once you have your timeline in place, set the baseline and your schedule plan is locked. Now, as you collect real-time data on your progress, it can be compared to your baseline. Know immediately if you’re going off schedule and get back on track before it becomes a bigger problem.

ProjectManager's online Gantt chart, ideal for time managementProjectManager's online Gantt chart, ideal for time management
ProjectManager’s Gantt charts can set a baseline to track if you’re working on time.—Try It Free!

Track Time on Robust Timesheets

Manage your budget and time accurately with ProjectManager’s secure timesheet feature. Save time setting up timesheets, which can auto-populate or copy last week’s tasks if your team is doing the same work. As teams work on their assignments, managers get transparency into their progress to make sure they’re on schedule. When a team member submits the timesheet, it’s locked and secured. Track time, get more accurate estimates and manage labor costs in one feature.

ProjectManager.com's timesheet view for time managementProjectManager.com's timesheet view for time management
See how long teams are working on their tasks with secure timesheets from ProjectManager.—Try It Free!

Manage Your Team’s Resources with Ease

Teams can’t be productive if they have too much work. Balancing their workload keeps the project moving along at a decent clip and saves time. Use ProjectManager’s resource management features, such as the color-coded workload chart, to see your team’s work allocation. If someone has too many assignments, you can reallocate their work right from the chart and keep the project running smoothly.

time management workload chart from ProjectManagertime management workload chart from ProjectManager
Balance your team’s workload with ProjectManager’s color-coded workload chart.—Try It Free!

ProjectManager is award-winning software that is used by tens of thousands of teams to manage project time and work more productively. See why organizations as varied as NASA to the Bank of America and Ralph Lauren use our software to stay on schedule. Try ProjectManager today for free.

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