8 Things I learnt to be more productive in Project Management
There are a lot of ways to interpret the proverb «Time is Money». It has a controversial concept, depending from what perspective it is considered. Time has a limit, but from a philosophical view, time might be endless.
I would like to start with a personal story behind this proverb:
When I travelled to some developing countries, I observed there something that made me realize about the concept of «Time is Money». I went to Morocco for a medical check-up because I felt ill. While I was in the waiting room, there was a man sitting next to me. He seemed to be very impatient and he was nervously tapping with his feet on the ground. After a while I asked him, if he was fine. He answered: «No, I urgently have to go to work. I cannot afford to waste my time here in the waiting room. Every additional minute I lose while waiting, I lose money.» I first did not understand what he was talking about, but after he mentioned that he is supposed to work now and get the salary to survive with his family who is sick, I completely understood what he meant. This made me think a lot and this example shows that time is money. There are many developing countries, especially people from a poorer background, who count time, one by one as money.
«Every additional minute I lose while waiting, I lose money.»
First of all, I agree that time is money. This, because in a given time, we can earn money. In any business, time is money because you cannot afford excess downtime. In other words, it is best to do things as quick as possible in order to reduce the amount of time spent, because spending time is like spending money. Of course, quality also matters. But my point here is that if you spend your time being unproductive, you will lose money, because you are not actively earning any. I connect this with the economical concept of opportunities costs, which are lost revenues that arise, because existing opportunities are not taken advantage of. It is the cost of regret or costs of lost profits.
«Opportunities costs are lost revenues that arise, because existing opportunities are not taken advantage of.»
On the other hand, you can also make money without spending time on it. This, when you manage to generate a passive income. In this case, money can be earned without spending much time on it anymore. But we need to keep in mind that the cost of something is a monetary value. The monetary value can also be translated to time as it takes time to make the money regardless of the method of income. Every method still takes a certain time to establish and at the end, it flows still into the concept of «Time is Money».
Thirdly, I would call money as an indefinable value, because every human-being has a different perception of how they define money as value. For example, if you spend time with other people working together on a project. There are moments, when you are having a long meeting together. Sometimes meetings seem to be a waste of time, because you end up discussing things without clear goals in your group. We think that we could have spent the time much more wisely. But it already happened, and it is a time you will never get back.
But in this case, I would like to turn around the perspective of the current situation. I learnt that time is valuable in forms of currency that is not necessarily money. The term money is convertible not just in a way that it is the money. It also lies behind the time spent for creativity, connection with others and our whole life experience split into hours, minutes and seconds. Time can become money, because it is convertible into experiences, that enables us new learnings, giving us insight into new perspectives in group works and the wisdom to create money in whole different ways for our future or with an amazing project outcome itself.
«Time can become money, because it is convertible into experiences, that enables us new learnings, giving us insight into new perspectives and the wisdom to create money in whole different ways for our future or with an amazing project outcome itself.»
Moreover, «Time is Money» can be understood as a synonym. Probably you already heard about this famous «Time Energy Money System»: When we are young, we have time but no money to spend. When we start earning, we still have little amount of time to spare but not enough money to spend it. When we enter ours 50’s we earn plenty amount of money but do not have enough time to spend it. I guess that commodification of time is an important concept. But first we should clarify: What kind of time do we mean? Concrete time or abstract time? Abstract time is relating to timeclock and concrete time to our activities. Commodification of time whether abstract time or concrete time can go to commodification of human nature.
My 8 advices to be more productive in Project Management:
1.Define the Project-goal and Scope of it: In order to not lose ourselves within a project, it is crucial to set clear goals in the team before getting a project started. I would even call it SMART Goals. In other words, goals that are measurable and realistic. This can be done in form of a mission statement, a team charter or a project chart. Additionally, a project scope helps as well to create a work breakdown structure.
2. Make a Time Plan: Every project has a start and an end; Project initiation, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling and there is a project closure. Because our time is limited due a deadline. It is important to make a time plan to have an overview of all the deadlines and to stay consistent according to the time plan.
3. Time-Boxing: What helps a lot is to determine the total time needed for each task that has to be done. Sometimes it is not always easy to estimate it in advance, but we should know how much time we approximately want to spend on each task. This is important to maintain a productive process and a great outcome.
4. Hyper-Focus Sessions: This is also related to time-boxing. I personally do a lot of hyper-focus sessions every day, at least 2-3 hours. You give yourself a time limit, for example 1 hour. Then, you put your phone and all other things away that might distract you. Next, you work for 1 hour with focus and much concentration to get an important task done.
5. Proactive and Clear Communication with the right Tools: Communicating proactively in clear ways, fostering active listening and remaining open-minded with ideas from others is significant. We should use tools or find other ways to convey our ideas if things get unclear. For instance, I often illustrate my ideas with sketches, in form of pictures or show videos related to my ideas. It helps to avoid misunderstandings.
6. Preparation before joining a meeting for Effective Meetings: It is important to prepare ourselves well before going on a meeting. For example, I write down on a note what things I want to clarify in the meeting and what Inputs I want to bring up. It is also efficient to set goals in the team before starting a meeting, as well as to set a timeframe of how much time we approximately want to spend on a meeting. It helps to avoid sidetalks, keep meetings short, significant and productive.
7. Dealing with Uncertainty and Remain Flexible: For projects we often get guidelines we need to keep in mind. Sometimes it is more strict with lots of details and sometimes we are able to do our own decisions with less rules. Thus, we were able to be creative with our own innovative ideas. This can be an amazing opportunity, but at the same time having less rules can lead to confusion and uncertainty. Consequently, we feel somehow lost. In this way, we just need to just make the best of it with the information given, do own reserach, constantly adapt ourselves and remain flexible with our ideas.
8. Team Norms and Code of Conduct : All team members have to know what to do until when. The next challenge is, to keep those deadlines. For this reason, setting certain rules in the group that maintains trust and keep us motivated to work things accordingly to the time plan is important. We should always be supportive and respectful to each other. Lastly, it is about to work with diligence and fun towards the common project goal within a given timeframe.
Time is one of the most valuable resources and can be interpreted in many different ways depending on you own perception. It is a limited resource we all humans have and this exactly, is what makes time so valuable. The correlation between money and time can be a synonym, it can be considered as a consequence of each other or it can be completely converted into something else, far beyond of what we can ever imagine.
Time matters a lot in Project Management, because there are deadlines we need to keep as team. If you invest time in a project, it is a time you never get back. It is a part of your life and the time you give to others to work on a project together. Productivity related to the timeline in Project Management is important. The time invested in a project, can be converted into physical money in form of a successful project pitch and/or in form of valuable experiences leaving us with new learnings that will remain with us forever.