If you keep a log of project results, you will find evidence of the 20/80 rule at work. This is about Time Management because the 20/80 rule has a lot of application in our daily lives. Did you ever notice, if you belong to an organisation, how 20% of the members are there 80% of the time, doing 80% of the work and the remaining 80% of the members are there 20% of the time? How 20% of your relatives give you 80% of your headaches? How 20% of a typical sales force will produce 80% of the sales and 80% of the sales force will produce 20% of the sales? Focus your time on the 20% of the activities that will produce 80% of your results
Since true understanding depends upon experience, you will be asked to take part by looking at aspects of your own work. Here are some tips in managing your project time that can be used throughout a project cycle. Don’t be shy in doing this … be greedy with your time and your emphasis:
- Current Practice. What this is advocating is the adoption of certain practices which will give you greater control over the use and allocation of your primary resource: time. Before we start on the future, it is worth considering the present. This involves the simplistic taskof keeping a note of how you spend your time for a suitably long period of time (say a week). All you have to do is create a simple table filling in a row every time you change activity. The will be called a ‘time-log’.
- Waste Disposal. We are not looking here to create new categories of work to enhance efficiency but simply to eliminate wastage in your current practice. Let us assume that the average employee earns about €40,000 per annum: about €18.50 per hour, say €1.50 every 5 minutes. How many 5 minute sections of your activity would you have paid €1.50 for? The first step is a critical appraisal of how you spend your time and to question some of your habits.
- Doing the work of others! A major impact upon your work can be the tendency to help others with theirs. Now, in the spirit of an open and harmonious work environment it is obviously desirable that you should be willing to help out – but check your time log and decide how much time you spend on your own work and how much you spend on others. For instance, if you spend a morning checking the grammar and spelling in the training material related to you last project, then that is waste. Publications should do the proof-reading that is their job, they are better at it than you; you should deal at the technical level.
- Doing the Work of Managers. The remaining problem is your manager. Consider what periods in your time log that are used to perform tasks that your manager either repeated or simply negated by ignoring it or redefining the task, too late. Making your manager efficient is a very difficult task, but where it impinges upon your work and performance you must take the bull by the horns and con
front the issue. Managing your manager may seem a long way from Time Management but no one impacts upon your use of time more. The objective is not to eliminate a manager mode of operation but if he/she has a change of mind, it will at least cause him/her to consider the issues early on, before you waste your time on false assumptions.
- Appointments / Meetings. The next stage is to start taking control of your time. The first problem is appointments. Start with a simple appointments diary. In a project, you will have (or at least should have) a complete list of all your known appointments for the foreseeable future.
- Long term Objectives. There are many long term objectives which projects must achieve, particularly in the development, support and motivation of teams. Long term objectives have the problem of being important but not urgent; they do not have deadlines, they are distant and remote. For this reason, it is all too easy to ignore them in favor of the urgent and immediate.
Best of luck with this and treat your time as one of your most valuable assets and in turn it will treat you well