Generally, managing construction projects is the primary job of a project manager. However, there are a lot of specific duties they have to take on. Project managers are responsible for project planning, benchmarking, risk management, and resource distribution. Plus, they have to manage the crew, the budget, and the relationships with key stakeholders.
With so much on their plate, it’s easy for them to lose track of time and get sucked into the chaos. Unfortunately, one slip up can cost the project a lot, from a few delays to even the cancellation of the entire thing. That is why a considerable part of project management for construction is time management.
In this article, we present some strategies project managers can use to improve their time management.
Time Management Strategies
Lead with an efficient project schedule
One of the project manager essentials is a project schedule. It acts as their guidebook telling them:
● what should happen;
● when it should happen;
● how long it needs to be happening, and
● who is responsible for making it happen.
However, things don’t always go according to plan in construction, no matter how much you plan. When an event impacts the schedule, a ripple effect shifts the other tasks in the sequence. The best-case scenario is that a small hiccup or delay happens, which can easily be fixed. Worst case scenario, massive delays happen and throws the schedule way off.
Commonly, commercial projects can last for weeks, months, or even years. But construction project managers have to review, manage, and track the schedule closely and regularly. Doing this will give them a daily, weekly, and monthly task list.
1. Arrange tasks according to priority
Project managers are one of, if not the busiest, people on site. So, merely crossing off something on their to-do list can give them a sense of satisfaction. Although, the difference between being productive and being busy is unclear to them.
With that, a “must do” list would be more effective than a “to do” list. Naturally, prioritize the more important tasks and do the remaining ones when you have spare time. Making this list takes quite a lot of thinking because you should also consider practicality and sequence in addition to importance– you can’t start on that thing until you finish this one because they are connected.
The length of your list doesn’t matter. It can have three items, or it can have 20. The important thing is that you focus your time and energy on the non-negotiable items.
When you’re having trouble making your list, starting with a brain dump helps. Write down all the tasks that need to be done. After that, you can sort them. One way is to rate them, with the lowest value being not urgent and the highest being the most pressing.
2. Learn how to delegate effectively
Construction projects are a team effort. A project manager can’t do everything themselves, nor can they be everywhere. Taking on more than what they can handle, they’ll just run out of time and leave some things unfinished. It’s also possible that the ones they did accomplish ended up being subpar because they were rushing, hence why it’s vital to delegate effectively.
Aside from taking off a few from your plate, delegating will help employees who want to grow. They want to learn new skills, gain more knowledge and feel trusted. Giving them responsibilities will help them grow.
But it’s often the case that the asks are delegated poorly. When assigning tasks, look at who is capable and competent. You want them to learn, but this is still a job that must be done correctly. You can be there to guide and check on them; micromanagement isn’t necessary.
3. Clear and effective communication
Communication is a crucial component of any project. A minute instance of miscommunication can lead to massive issues and significant delays. On the other hand, effective communication can prevent problems from occurring and allow the project to progress smoothly. So, if you want minimal issues, it’s best to say exactly what you mean and keep it clear and concise. This will ensure that the doer of the task understands it and will perform it correctly.
And proper communication is not just between the crew and manager. Project managers must also be able to convey their messages to other stakeholders, such as the client. If they understand the issue or development, you can proceed as planned.
Furthermore, communicating also involves listening. Project managers who are poor listeners can miss crucial information that can negatively impact the project. They should not be afraid to ask questions, clarifications, and confirmation. From the get-go, they should be attentive to avoid any problem. Things will be better when everyone is on the same page.
4. Conduct brief meetings (when necessary)
Plenty of people dislike meetings because they see them as unnecessary. This is sometimes true, as many meetings “could have been emails.”
On the contrary, they are essential if they have a purpose. Meetings should be done so the team can come together to discuss and make decisions. With a long list of things to do and limited time to do them, project managers should hold meetings for a definitive purpose.
To make sure that time is consumed effectively, the productive meetings must be actionable:
● Have a definitive agenda;
● Voice the meeting’s goal;
● End with actions and deadlines.
After the meeting, project managers must share the meeting notes and follow up on assignments. And the minus will serve as project documentation.
5. Say no
Sometimes, project managers will accept more work or take on additional tasks when they should not have. Doing this can lead to more problems than rejecting them would have caused. They might end up doing it poorly or not even doing it at all. If you feel the task is unimportant, say no.
However, if they think that the task must be done but cannot do it, go back to delegating. Instead of taking on the job themselves, assign it to someone you know has the time and skill to accomplish it.
6. Stay organized
This tip may sound simple and common, but it is one of the most effective time management strategies. Staying organized makes the difference between wasting time digging through the mess to find that one piece of paper and instantly pulling it up. Working in a mess can be detrimental to your management of both project and time.
When it comes to filing systems, there are many routes to take. Using physical paper can still work as long as you have an ordered filing system in place. Otherwise, going digital is better. You won’t have to deal with the mess of papers, plus you’ll need a smart device to access them. Just make sure to back up your files.
Additionally, you should implement an effective digital filing system. You may not be flipping through pages of paper, but you might spend quite a amount of time looking at a screen.
7. Emails can wait
We say that modern technology is highly beneficial to project and time management, but too much of anything is bad. In this case, too much screen time can be damaging to the project. Some project managers continuously have their eyes glued to the screen. While they may be dealing with work matters, this may be unimportant or a distraction. Before they know it, they’re on the website of a potential client, neglecting the work they currently have.
Emails can wait. Reading and answering them mid-task can result in a poorly throughout the response and a low-quality task result.
8. Avoid distractions
Another one that sounds simple but is crucial (and even quite hard to do). Multitasking is part of the project manager’s job. With several issues to take care of, they should remain focused and not be distracted from the responsibilities. This is easier said than done. The best way to achieve this is by training themselves to keep their eyes on what’s important.
9. Take advantage of time-saving tools and construction management systems.
When you partner time management strategies with time-saving tools, project managers will increase their chances of working efficiently and improve their quality of work.
Today, there are countless apps, software, tools, and platforms that do just that. But with the multitude of options to choose from, it can get confusing and overwhelming. Remember that they all have their functions and benefits. Make sure that you choose one that is suitable for the project and caters to your management needs.
How Project Management Software Helps In Time Management
In this day and age, there have been countless innovations that aid in project management. Recently, management and scheduling software have become popular among project managers and contractors.
When it comes to time management, software like Pro Crew Schedule allows managers to track their team and the project. Plus, they can schedule tasks and jobs, as well as store documents on the cloud. This, in turn, improves efficiency and productivity. No time wasted.