We glorify being busy. We glorify having a lot on our plates. Managing time (and doing it effectively) is becoming a topic that’s being discussed more and more. People are time-blocking their every action to scare away the horrible waste of time that is procrastination. There are hundreds and maybe thousands of apps for do-to lists. We desire to be the superhuman that beats our core instinct to be a lazy baked potato.
As a project manager, you have an edge.
You know about different types of resource planning and how to use resource planning tools. You have drawn together a number of reports to analyze and perfect the way you are planning resources. Now, you are going to learn how to use that knowledge to plan your own time.
When you are planning resources, you are most certainly trying to make sure that those utilization percentages wouldn’t run over a hundred. Somehow, when it comes to your own life, you tend to act like you have found the eternal source of energy, don’t you?
You work over hours, you go to the gym, you attend the baby shower of a colleague you don’t even like, you go golfing because someone said you should, you try to cook at home on as many nights as possible, you read the book that your friend recommended, you try to fit a year’s worth of television into one week, you keep yourself posted with the latest trends in your field of work, you make time for your family, your parents, and your friends. You feel like you have to do it all. But you don’t. It’s that simple. You just don’t have to do it all.
Set priorities. Go to events you really want to go to. Make room for some alone time at the expense of some social gathering you know you wouldn’t really enjoy. Be honest with yourself and others. You should plan your own time as wisely as you are planning your projects.
You wouldn’t drag and drop irrelevant tasks. Stop taking on tasks that unnecessarily drain and exhaust you. It’s okay to say no.
It’s quite late already. You have one more form to fill in before you can head home. You think you’ll just deal with it while eating dinner with the family. It’s better that way, huh? You’ll be there, right? Not really.
That’s what you should call a bad compromise. Nobody really wins. You will get home from office earlier. Yes. You will get the form filled in, too. But it will take much longer than it should. Your family won’t feel like you are there. They’ll feel you are always busy with something else. Even if you don’t have someone waiting for you at home, you still shouldn’t take your work home with you. It’ll come at the expense of your well-deserved free time.
Instead of trying to multitask, plan better. I know, it doesn’t seem to be much of an advice if it’s coming at the time when you are mixing and matching your work and personal life like socks that have lost their mates in a freak show that we call a washing machine.
Nevertheless, you have to start somewhere. If you have been tricking yourself into believing that you can multitask your whole life, you have a pretty tough road ahead of you. However, you should do it anyway. Schedule yourself in a way that would boost productivity.
From the types of breaks where you take a year off once in every seven years to the types of breaks where you just eat your lunch during lunch. Yes, the latter means no emails during lunch hours. Yes, that means really taking a break. Like realllllly.
Every once in a while, even take it up a notch from that. Leave your phone behind. Just chat with your coworkers. Not about work but what’s going on in their lives. Or maybe about that interesting centerpiece in the middle of the table. Just not work. Okay? Okay.
If you want to give your brain even more wholesome break than that, go eat alone. Look at the walls. The people around you. Breath in every smell. Just be. Even if being alone isn’t your cup of tea, it will be interesting if you keep your mind open about it.
In addition to lunch breaks, you should be taking a number of tiny breaks throughout the day. You are probably planning pretty lengthy tasks for your resources in Ganttic. But when estimating tasks’ length you have learned that you should never be too optimistic. You leave time for breaks and for the unexpected. That’s what you should do while making a to-do list or a plan for yourself, too.
Be realistic. Allow yourself to be a human. There is no way you are fully concentrated for the whole length of your workday. That’s why you should plan breaks. Deliberately, constantly, and throughout the day. Every day.
You see that a task is taking a bit longer than you have planned. You know you have a resource that you can allocate to help with the task. You do it. That’s what resource allocation is about, right? You aren’t expecting your projects exactly the way have dragged and dropped your Gantt charts. You always leave room to do some allocation. Why should it be any different with your own plans?
Expect things to go wrong. Make plans but don’t be too rigid about them. Do a kind of a risk analysis in your head every time you make a plan. Be ready to allocate more time and effort when needed. Look at your personal life as tasks. It might seem a bit wrong to do it but leave emotion out of it.
For example, if you feel like one of your relationships isn’t going as well as you want to, allocate more time and effort to it. Yup, it’s going to be at the expense of something else but after you have set priorities like discussed before, it won’t be a problem.
Setting milestones helps your projects’ progress. You have to pinpoint those specific moments in your projects’ timeline to help your team to stay on track and you to determine whether or not your projects are on the right course and pace. Aaaand it works the same way with life.
I could say that nothing happens if you don’t set goals but that would be wrong. Things happen. You will probably still accomplish something. Things. Probably. Yep. Not the sort terms you would like to see anywhere near your project portfolio or your personal life.
So set goals. Set goals that are specific and achievable. Set long-term and short-term goals. Set goals that are measurable and realistic. Make decisions according to them. If doing something helps to achieve your goal, do it. If not, don’t. Set milestones to check your progress. If it seems like a goal you have set isn’t what you want anymore, feel free to adjust your sails.
Just don’t give up because things get though. Give up if the only reason that you are trying to get to the goal is the fact that you have set it. If you have conquered the mountaintops that you have set your eyes on, find new ones. Exactly like you would do with your projects.
What are your employees saying are the biggest problems at the office? Find out in this infographic.
A revamped resource planning process can come in handy for reducing the number of hours spent on emailing, as well as those unreads hanging in your inbox. See how!
Every year on April 22 the world comes together to appreciate this big blue sphere we call home. Earth Day is an annual event that gives everyone a chance to…
We examine some of the main issues that affect female PMs on a daily basis. And women in the field offer some advice to their peers on getting ahead.
14-day free trial. No credit card required.