Sunday, May 19, 2013

Effective Time Management

Target audience: Beginner
Estimated reading time: 15'


Each team member to contribute to the extend of his/her capability during the work week. The two key elements of an effective time management are
  • Flexibility: Team members should be able to work multiple tasks, change roles and get around bottlenecks. 
  • Availability:  Team members should support other team members, constantly evaluate the efficient usage of their time and be accessible outside business hours if necessary. 

Effective Meetings

There are some basic no "non-sense" rules to make sure that meetings are conducted efficiently.
  • Each meeting should have a clear theme and agenda, emailed to all attendees 48 hours prior the schedule day 
  • Meeting should be restricted to one hour and start with a recap of pending action items for previous sessions and listing the issues on the agenda. 
  • The team should spend no more than 10' on each issue. In case a consensus is not reached, someone  should be assigned to task to research, investigate and propose a solution for the next meeting. 
  • It is highly recommended to deal with critical or controversial issues at the beginning of the meeting. 
  • Minutes of the meeting, including action items, deliverable and milestones should be posted within 24 hours.  

Urgent vs. Important Tasks  

The most productive tasks are (in decreasing orders)
     1. Important & Non urgent
     2. Important &Urgent
     3. Non important & Urgent
     4. Non important & Non urgent

The following table lists some activities as classified by their importance and urgency.

.UrgentNot Urgent
Important Escalations
Resolving bottlenecks
Assigning Defects
Solving Escalations
Project Planning
Technical investigation   
Unimportant    Time-sensitive interruptions    
Responding emails
Phone Calls
Unscheduled meetings
Browsing web
Social visits

The role of project manager is to
- Protect engineers from urgency & interruptions
- Define/communicate the important tasks for the week

Time Wasters   

Unscheduled interruptions are far more distracting than people. Beyond the actual time spent to address the interruption, it takes on average 15 minutes to get back to the activity in progress.
The following table lists some examples of interruptions or time wasters and possible solutions.

Wasters Solutions
Lack of clear prioritiesBetter project management
Unproductive meetingsMeetings with goal,agenda,minutes
Productivity bottlenecksFlexible organization in terms of skills,schedule
Unnecessary interruptions        Manager to control interruptions
Process inefficienciesProcess automation and productivity tools
Lack of accountabilityQuantitative metrics (K.P.I.) functionality,quality,schedule


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