Our life is overflowed with things to do … at work, we’re bombarded with new tasks to execute … projects must be kept in line. On top of that, just like sprinkles on a cupcake, we have meetings, seminars, training and god knows what else is thrown at us. All this need to be controlled … but how? … by applying a Time Management Methodology to all this chaos.
If you were to look at your appointment calendar from the last few weeks… how many times did you say something like “I’m sorry for being late”, “Can you give me an additional 10 minutes?”, and so on. Why do we always have to run and push and postpone what we do? …
Glad you ask because that’s where the Time Management Methodology comes into play.
(Quick note: This document is by no mean a training on the methodology but a high-level description so that you can understand the essence. Also, this is one version of a Time Management Methodology and there are several out there following different approaches with different flavours. You are free to pick and choose and even combine.)
Good question! What IS a Time Management Methodology? Well it’s what keeps our lives, our projects, our journey under control which directly influences and enhances your Time Estimation which is a methodology described in a previous post.
But now, you are probably telling yourself while reading this that you do manage your time correctly and life is pretty much perfect, and all is well.
Let’s discover if that is the case, shall we.
Pretty much with everything, but when you combine it with a “Time Estimation Methodology” which we talked about in a previous article, and your AGILE and SCRUM projects, you get an increase in coordination.
So how come that as professionals who live and breathe stress and deal with important decisions, we can’t manage our time. The reason is that we do not apply certain principals which, when you think about it, are nothing new or out of the ordinary but for some reason we do not take them into consideration.
This document is to describe a methodology that is applicable to manage your calendar, whether being your professional or personal life; however, some of those principals are applicable for your Project Scheduling, you Staffing, your Overall Organization and also can be applied, as stated to your personal life, but we have chosen to focus on the Business Aspects only for this document.
As already mentioned, this is not meant to be a course so do keep that in mind. The goal here is to bring the concepts to you so that, if you choose to do so, apply it in your own management.
Let us describe what you should take into consideration when you manage your time through three levels:
BASICS – which are just the minimal items you should keep in mind;
INTERMEDIATE – which are items to add to your schedule in order to minimize delays;
ADVANCED – which is the final goal to get to in order to fully manage your time.
Keep in mind though that one is not exclusive or dependent of the other. You don’t have to apply all aspects or follow any sequence to gain better Time Management.
Again, you will see us referring to the GOLDEN RULES, well that’s just a term to refer to a best practice based on Emyode’s experience in the field.
OK so let’s begin with the basics:
- BUFFER: Yes, we are talking about Buffer, but this is neither a Project Management or Time Estimate, but you know what? We have to take it into consideration during our daily life. Think about it … there’s always a surprise, there’s an unexpected call you receive from a contact or coworker during the day, and then there’s normal daily stuff (don’t worry, we won’t go into details here), so why do we just ignore them. We should not.
- DAILIES: Every day we follow a pattern of things we do automatically because it’s part of our routine. We are referring here to things like Daily Catch up of Yesterday’s e-mail first thing in the morning, Daily Coffee run, Lunch, Gym and so on. Obviously, these are flexible and can be postponed or cancelled, but regardless, it’s important to track them and even if it’s before the official start of your day, meaning that if you do a 9 to 5 and you usually come in at 8 to start your day, you put them in your calendar regardless.
PRE- AND POST-: We all know that there’s something Before and After everything we do, so why aren’t we taking it into consideration? When scheduling a meeting, a lunch, a trip, etc. it is important to take into account the tasks which needs to happen before and the ones which will happen after.
Now you wonder, what are Pre- and Post-, so let’s go over the list right now:
- SETTING UP: When you have a meeting, whether being in a room or through a call (and I obviously include all types, such as Skypes, Conference Call, etc.) you always have to prepare, whether you’re the leader or a participant. You may need to setup the room, setup your computer for display, or open a conference call, read up on documentation, change floors or offices, for example, and you do this to be ready to start on time. Also, as part of Setting Up, you need to consider that when you travel (please refer to the section in this document) once you get there you will need to sign-in at reception or get your ticket or pass at a booth and such. Remember to keep it separate from your Travel time in order to ensure that you are not underestimating.
- TRAVEL TO: You have a meeting at a customer site, or you’re going to attend a trade show, or you’re meeting is scheduled first thing in the morning. Guess what! You will have to drive, bike, or bus or even walk but you will have to get there one way or another. Also, take into consideration that when you travel somewhere, you will have to possibly sign-in, leave you coat, and so on and this is part of what is considered Setting Up (see the section in this document). We always forget this, but it is important to plan this properly. These days it’s fairly easy to do so with the tools that we have access to such as Google Maps and so on.
|Make sure of the following:
- CLOSURE: You’ve finished your meeting, had an amazing discussion, but obviously you have to say good bye, or gather your equipment, maybe sign out and get your coat, and other such tasks similar to Setting Up but in reverse. And now, I think you know what I’m going to say … this takes time and must also be included on your calendar.
- TRAVEL BACK: What a surprise! you have to travel back to your office or home, so the exact same consideration you used when you estimated your Travel To.
|Make sure of the following:
If you’ve been able to stay and read this all the way to the Advanced section, well it means that you’re ready. So, I hope you’re sitting down because the big reveal is …
- RISK FACTOR: Why would I think of a Risk Factor for a meeting? That doesn’t make sense, because I’m not managing a project here! Let me try to change your mind on the subject. Just think about the different kinds of meetings you’ve had throughout your career and remember the ones you told yourself that “Wow! This is going to be a tough one”. Or when you’re writing up the agenda and on one subject you tell yourself that “this will generate a lot of questions”. What are you really doing when you have these thoughts? Well exactly the same thing as if you’re planning a task in a Project Plan and identify it as a Risk item (refer to Risk Management Methodology and Time Estimation Methodology). No difference. Just think of possible controversial issues or subjects which may generate more questions than expected. So, from now on, don’t be shy, add that to your Time Estimate for your meeting.
|Follow the basic Risk Estimation:
And then round up to the nearest 15-minute increment.
As stated before, the Time Management Methodology is independent of any project methodologies (such as Waterfall, Scrum, Lean, Agile and so on). It is meant to be a better way of managing your time, personally and professionally, and again, let us restate that this is not an “All or Nothing”. You can pick and choose certain aspects to test and try out and see if you’ll get to see your stress go down.
Overall ALWAYS remember that “YOU manage the Methodology; the Methodology does not manage YOU”.
Until next time!