How time management will help you be more effective and efficient

by Don Lowe

January 18, 2019
Reading Time: 4 minutes

​Let's begin by defining effectiveness and efficiency in general terms, borrowing from

​Effective (adj.)

​Efficient (adj.)

Adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.

​Performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort.

​Being effective is about doing the right things, while being efficient is about doing things right.

To be effective we focus on results and relationships with people. To be efficient we complete our activities as quickly as possible. And in order to succeed we need to strike a healthy balance between the two.

When we manage people and time well, there is a greater probability that we will also manage cost, scope, quality and risk successfully.

The road to success is always under construction

There are many things that can influence the time management of a project. We will look at six factors that you may not initially think of as having an impact on time.

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​Shift your focus to results, accountability and responsibility

Work towards a culture of results, accountability and responsibility instead of activities. Every task that a person carries out in the project must add value to the output. Make sure everyone identifies with the project goal and understands the necessary conditions and critical success factors.

Remember to reward people on delivering results, NOT on looking busy and/or being at work for long hours.

Through effective planning we aim to create a culture where people will work on what is important before it becomes urgent. And say NO to work or activities that do not contribute to achieving the project’s objectives. It will save you time in the long run.

​It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.

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​Managing scheduling and multitasking to improve performance

We schedule priorities, rather than prioritizing what’s on your schedule.

Projects are about people delivering results. The schedule is used as a tool to be more effective in dealing with people first, then, in terms of efficiency, in dealing with time. This ensures that people work on what is important before it becomes urgent.

We use the critical chain scheduling method and anyone working on the critical chain is not allowed to be disturbed. However, they may ask for help in order to complete activities.

The initiation of new activities is by default event driven rather than date driven. New activities on the critical chain are started as soon as prerequisite activities are completed to ensure that there is no time wasted. 

​Buffer management optimises resources

Scheduled “buffer time” is the extra time that is positioned at the end of an activity chain. It ​ensures that the right people are available to do their tasks at the right time and thus optimises the use of resources. It also allows project managers to be able to account for unforeseen situations without having to change the coordination of a project in any major way. 

​Constraint management deals with the cause not the symptoms

Having the right organisation structure with appropriate people assigned to each role is an important prerequisite to managing constraints effectively. Trying to fix everything at once will spread you too thin to accomplish anything. Instead a focus group ​concentrations on fixing the constraint that is having the biggest impact in their area of influence. As soon as a constraint is fixed we identify the next constraint and fix that.

Root cause analysis is used to ensure that causes and not symptoms are worked on. They need to be either fixed or managed so that they do not derail the project. This focused approach to solving constraints enables the team to utilise their time to the greatest advantage. By focusing on resolving causes rather than symptoms you do the job once - not multiple times. Which, yes, saves time.

​Conflict management explores different points of view

When working in a complex system, some degree of conflict is inevitable. However, if nobody gets to the root of the problem it will escalate. People will stop talking to each other and/or ​grow disinterested in compromising. This wastes time on negative discussions and results in other damaging effects, such as a bad atmosphere, backstabbing and finger-pointing. ​

Effective communication is a core component in conflict management as it identifies the stakeholders, analyses their interests and manages their expectations. Use it as a way to explore different points of view and search for creative solutions. It will ultimately save you time.

​Retrospectives for continuous improvement

Set time aside for retrospectives throughout the project. It ensures continuous improvement for the project. You will find that gain more time through the improvements that you have implemented. The fact that the shortfalls are identified and consequently adapted, guarantees that time waste is eliminated.

​Your path to efficiency

​If everyone in a company is onboard then implementing changes for a more efficient and productive workplace should not be too difficult. Sometimes, however, you need outside help and there is no shame in that. If you need more in depth advice in how to make your workplace both more effective and efficient do not hesitate to contact us.