5 Ways to Managing Your Time – Some Ideas

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few more hours in your day? Many project managers would love it! Sometimes it feels like you can’t get everything done. What you need to do is manage your time better. Here are some suggestions:

5 Ways To Manage Your Time

You’ll get more done in less time!

#1. Timesheets
Think about where your time is going. Do you really know what you work during the day? Are you tracking how you use your time? Timesheets can show you exactly how much time you spend on many activities such as creating reports or responding to emails. There’s the 15 minute break to check Facebook that turns into 30-45 minutes…

Tracking your time lets you know where you’ve been and where it’s going. This will help you to better prioritize your time and make you more conscious when it comes to managing your time.

#2. Task lists
Get yourself going in the morning by organizing what your priorities should be the day before. Organizing task lists helps this. A clear list will tell you precisely what you need to be working on as soon as you walk in the office. If you add in a column for dates it will also tell you what needs to be completed by when, which is a huge help when it comes to scheduling the top priority tasks first.

The task list feature can be organized using many of the different apps available today on a smart phone. On my iPhone I use the reminders feature, calendar, and an app called SuperNote. What is nice about these is I can dictate by voice the task information right away and not have to try to remember details I didn’t write down. I make it a point not to try to commit everything to memory.

#3. Milestones
Milestones are a good way to manage your time as they put focus on the an intermediate goal. Putting milestones on your project plan forces you to review them regularly with your team. You can be sure to align an upcoming deadline with the milestone objective to a date on your task list.

Most milestones relate to project tasks but you can also create personal milestones on the apps discussed in item #2 to remind you about scheduled dates for other tasks on your task list.

#4. Automation
As Project Managers preparing reports is one of the tasks that takes the most time in any project. Getting status updates from team members, organizing the data, checking it, formatting it, reviewing statistics, then checking it again and sending it to the stakeholders. It never seems to end.

Automation of the information inflow can help to make these tasks easier. Set up your report templates to pull data from MS Project (or whatever PM software you’re using) so it shows the status in real-time. Automate in the beginning make for one less job for you to do.

#5. Saying no!
Just say no. You cannot do everything and a good PM knows how to delegate. And you don’t have to do everything. Many times you can’t take on more work. And if a stakeholder is insistent, ask your the project sponsor what they want you to drop. What top priority items should be moved to the bottom of the priority list?”

It isn’t possible to get everything done, especially if it’s out-of-scope items. Negotiate priorities with your stakeholders so that your projects aren’t overloaded, they’ll appreciate that you’re being realistic about what can be done in the time available.

Try these 5 tips for managing your time, you’ll be pleased to see how many extra hours you can find in a day. You’ll also be pleased with how much stress you have let go because you’ll be better organized to get tasks done in a timely manner.

WBS Explained

WBS stands for “Work Breakdown Structure”. Simply put, it delineates the work required to complete the project. A WBS makes a Project Managers life easier, and it ensures a complete understanding of the work required to complete the task at hand. A WBS is the delineation of the scope into work packages and activities required to complete successfully. It represents total project scope as well as product scope.

I have witnessed during my time as a Project Manager many a practicing project manager not using the WBS correctly or at all. Many find it burdensome; others think it’s useless, and others just do not understand how it. What’s worse is when management sees no value in the exercise of putting a WBS together.

A WBS is easy to understand and quite easy to create. It has immense effectiveness serving as an anchor for many a successful completed project. There are numerous publications that can guide you in developing a WBS. I will focus on the importance of a WBS to the project and some detail on writing one.

A WBS takes time, thought, and collaboration. It should have a method for identifying the hierarchy in either a hierarchical chart or as an outline. It should include a WBS Dictionary that explains in detail how to complete each package/activity. The dictionary spells out the expectation of the deliverable.

  • A WBS can receive information from:
    • The scope management plan
    • The scope statement
    • The requirements document
  • The WBS is related to:
    • WBS dictionary
    • Scope baseline
  • It provides information to
    • Activity list
    • Activity cost estimates
    • Project budget
    • Risk register
    • Accepted deliverables

What is the difference between a deliverable and activity?
A deliverable is the result or outcome of series of activities. The activity represents a small portion of the total work package and deliverable.

Why is WBS important?

  1. WBS is a hierarchical representation of the scope of a project; it represents the total scope of work required.
    • A WBS represents the total scope and hence it can act as a checklist for the project.
  2. A Project Manager can easily see the completed work and what is work remains in the project.
    • The deliverable represented by the WBS is easily monitored and tracked.
    • Each successive level of WBS provides a basis for more precise estimation of remaining effort, duration, resources and cost in which to complete the project.
  3. A WBS can serve as a template for future similar projects – specifically for repetitive processes thus making future projects easier and faster to plan.
  4. Activities are easily assigned to team members making accountability easier.

A WBS can reduce project risk.


  1. A WBS uses nouns and adjectives to define work.
  2. The key is that we are talking about the nouns, the (mostly) tangible objects created through project work.
  3. Always put deliverables in the first couple of levels
  4. Only move from deliverables to tasks when you’ve pushed down several levels, and have gotten to packages that are reasonably small and estimable.
  5. The tasks to be performed are always in support of a deliverable.

Problems with ACA site

To my friends Hal and Mike, as someone who has worked the industry for many years, I understand the difference in site scalability and know that in software development anything can and will go wrong. That doesn’t explain why they didn’t consider the risk of millions visiting the site nor of the possibility of a dos attack. Also, why the requirement to create an account before you could shop? Ecommerce sites in general don’t require setting up an account before shopping. And also, why so many vendors involved with the development of the site. It seems as if there was not one main project manager in charge. It just seems that an administration so tech savvy would not have allowed for such a site to have been built knowing the ramifications politically and managerially.

Progressive Elaboration

Progressive elaboration can be defined as continuously improving and detailing a plan as more detail and specific information and more accurate estimates become available as the project progresses, and thereby producing more accurate and complete plans that result from successive iterations of the planning process.

So, what does that really mean. In practice it basically means that we don’t have enough information when we first start to plan a project to be able to reliably plan it out in detail. There are too many unknowns. There are too many unanswered questions. And we won’t be able to answer them until we get to that point in the project.

Every project is progressively elaborated. Think about it. A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. It is a unique enterprise created to solve a problem or fulfill a need. By it’s very nature of having never been done before within the organization there will be many unknowns and unanswered questions.

Because of the uniqueness in every project, iteration becomes the rule. In my experience in software development projects, we knew from the get go that there would be lots of changes as we moved forward. Things change. In a nutshell: we had to be ready to accept change. What we initially thought would work one way turned out to be impractical. Something new would be created by an outside party that did a better job than what we had originally designed. In software or web development, change is the rule, not the exception.

So what do you do? Well here are some suggestions:

Be sure to communicate with all the team leaders and stakeholders if change becomes inevitable. Make them a part of process of determining what, how, where, and when that change will occur. Make sure they understand why it’s occurring.

Make sure you gather reactions to any change that needs to occur. Not gathering all feedback can be disastrous because that one piece of information you neglected to get could have been the deciding factor on whether change took affect.

Remember that change will not be readily accepted. Especially in companies where many of the employees have been doing the same thing for many years. They live by “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. They’re comfortable with the way things are. But most likely they’re really just afraid of the unknown, which is what your proposed change will bring, at least in their minds. Prepare for continual reporting of progress and delays so everyone knows how the change is advancing and what successes have been made. Be prepared to enforce these changes though, especially when some try to revert to old habits.

Be sure to create the means for people to express their thoughts and feelings. Be supportive, show empathy. By hearing people out and allowing them to participate in the development of the needed change you are allowing them ownership. You create buy in by the very people who are affected and need to accept this change. People who feel they have ownership in the process are more apt to want to see it succeed then those who don’t.

Most importantly, be sure to create a plan to handle this change using project management techniques, such as risk assessments, stakeholder analysis and progress measurements. But don’t be afraid of change, just be prepared for it.

Controlling Scope

Controlling scope is a process that lives up to it’s title. It’s all about maintaining control by preventing scope change requests from overwhelming the project.

I can remember numerous times where because we didn’t maintain control of the change request process we ended up doing work that was outside of the scope of the project and we didn’t get paid for our efforts. Shame on us for allowing that to happen.

The primary reason for controlling scope is to ensure that all change requests are processed. It is to make sure you understand the underlying causes for the change and just exactly how it will effect the project.

Will the requested change increase costs? Will it increase the amount of time it takes to complete the project? Will it require extra resources? Where will the money or the resources or the time come from? Making a change to the scope is not as simple as one would like it to be.

Controlling scope is an ongoing process that begins once the scope baseline is created. From that point on all change requests are approved or denied through the Perform Integrated Change Control process.

Here is how it works:

1) Inputs

a) Project Management Plan – It contains the scope baseline and the management plan which consists of the WBS, WBS Dictionary, and the Project Scope Statement. The Project Management Plan is the documented source for what the project team is supposed to produce. The scope baseline describes what the Project Manager is supposed to control.

b) Work Performance Information (WPI) – These are similar to the performance reports the Project Manager receives on a regular basis as to the status of the project. These WPI’s provide information on all aspects of the work completed and how it relates to the project.

c) Requirements Documentation – These are the documents you should consult to understand and evaluate the change compared to the original scope.

d) Requirements Traceability Matrix – This document connects the dots from the requirement to either the reason for the requirement or to whom requires the requirement.

e) Organizational Process Assets (OPA) – These are forms or report requirements, paperwork that are unique to the company that you will need to use in order to process these change requests.

2) Tools – The only tool used here is Variance Analysis. We’re using two types of variance measuremnt here:

a) Schedule Variance (SV) = Earned Value (EV) – Planned Value (PV)

b) Cost Variance (CV) = Earned Value (EV) – Actual Cost (AC)

Both are used to measure the differences between what was defined in the scope baseline and what was created. Variance Analysis can be used to as a way to investigate the root causes behind those differences.

3) Outputs

a) Work Performance Measurements – An important part of monitoring and controlling processes is collecting and understanding work performance data and whether it differs from the baseline. If it differs, then corrective action will need to be taken. These measurements are collected and used as part of the Communications process with stakeholders, and as part of the Report Performance process.

b) OPA updates – Any corrective actions requires that organizational process assets be updated. The reason behind this is that you may have discivered that a standard company practice proved to be inadequate for what your project needed. As a result of this discovery you now need to change company documents to reflect this new reality.

c) Change Requests – What a surprise that change requests are part of the output for scope control. As these changes are made to the scope baseline you will need to reflect these changes in other documentation as well: The WBS, WBS Dictionary; scope management plan; project management plan.

d) Project Management Plan updates – As mentioned above, changes have to be recorded and documents need to be changed to reflect the new reality.

e) Project Document Updates – See c & d above.

Project Management: 42 processes in order

These are the 42 PMBOK processes all in order of occurrence…in a perfect world…my hope is that this compilation helps someone else who is studying for the PMI PMP test. Please let me know if I missed anything. I will be updating this tool as I move along in my studies. I hope this will be useful to others studying for the PMP certification.

42 Processes In Order Of Occurrence
Process Group Knowledge Area 42 Processes Inputs Tools Outputs
Integration Management Develop Project Charter Project statement of work; business case; Enterprise environmental factors (EEF); Organizational Process Assets (OPA) Expert Judgment Project Charter
Integration Management Identify Stakeholders Project Charter; Procurement Documents; EEF; OPA Stakeholder Analysis; Expert Judgement Stakeholder Register; Stakeholder Management Strategy
Integration Management Develop Project Management Plan Project Charter; Outputs from planning processes; EEF; OPA Expert Judgment Project Management Plan
Scope Collect Requirements Project Charter; Stakeholder Register Interviews; Focus Groups; Facilitated Workshops; Group Creativity Techniques; Group Decision making techniques; Questionnaires and Surveys; Observation; Prototypes Requirements documentation; requirements management plan; requirements traceability matrix
Scope Define scope Project Charter; Requirements documentation; OPA Expert Judgment; Product analysis; alternatives identification; facilitated workshops Project scope statement; project document updates
Scope Create WBS Project scope statement; requirements documentation; OPA Decomposition WBS; WBS Dictionary; scope baseline; Project documents updates
Time Define Activities Scope baseline; WBS; WBS Dictionary; EEF; OPA Decomposition; Rolling wave planning; templates; Expert judgment Activity List; Activity attributes; milestone list
Time Sequence activities Activity List; Activity attributes; milestone list; Project Scope Statement; OPA Precedence Diagram Method (PDM); Dependency Determination; Apply leads & lags Project Schedule Network Diagrams
Time Estimate activity resources Activity Lists; Activity Attributes; Resource Calendar; EEF; OPA Expert Judgement; Alternatives analysis; Published estimating data; Bottom-up Estimating; PMIS Activity Resource Requirements; Resource breakdown structure; Project document updates
Time Estimate activity durations Activity Lists; Activity Attributes; Activity resource requirements; Resource Calendar; Project Scope Statement; EEF; OPA Expert Judgement; Analogous estimating; Parametric estimating; Three-point estimating; reserve analysis Activity duration estimates; Project document updates
Time Develop schedule Activity Lists; Activity Attributes; Project schedule network diagrams; Activity resource requirements; Resource Calendar; Activity Duration estimates; Project Scope Statement; EEF; OPA Schedule network analysis; Critical Path Method (CPM); Critical Chain Method; Resource leveling; What-if-scenerio analysis; Applying leads & lags; Schedule compression Project schedule; Schedule baseline;
Costs Estimate costs Scope Baseline; Project schedule; HR Plan; Risk Register; EEF; OPA Analogous estimating; Parametric estimating; Bottom-up estimating; three-point estimates; reserve analysis; cost of quality; PMIS; Vendor bid analysis Activity cost estimates; Basis of estimates; project document updates
Costs Determine budget Activity cost estimates; Basis of estimates; Scope baseline; Project Schedule; Resource calendars; contracts; OPA Cost aggregation; reserve analysis; expert judgement; Historical Relationships; Funding Limit Reconciliation Cost Performance Baseline; Project Funding Requirements; Project Document Updates
Quality Plan quality Scope Baseline; Stakeholder register; Cost performance baseline; schedule baseline; risk register; EEF; OPA Cost-Benefit Analysis; Cost of Quality; control charts; benchmarking; design of experiments; statistical sampling; flowcharting Quality Management Plan; Quality Metrics; Quality Checklists; Process Improvement Plan; Project Document Updates
Human Resources Develop Human Resources Plan Activity resource requirements; EEF; OPA Org charts and position descriptions; matrix charts; networking; org theory HR Plan
Communications Plan communications Stakeholder register; Stakeholder Management Strategy; EEF; OPA Communication Requirements Analysis; Communication Models; Communications Management Plan; Project Document Updates
Risk Plan risk management Project scope statement; Cost Management Plan; Schedule Management Plan; Communications Management Plan; EEF; OPA Planning Meetings & Analysis; Risk Management Plan
Risk Identify risks Risk Management Plan; Activity Costs Estimates; Activity Duration Estimates; Scope Baseline; Stakeholder Register; Cost Management Plan; Schedule Management Plan; Quality Management Plan; Project Documents; EEF; OPA Documentation Reviews; Information Gathering Techniques; Checklist analysis; Assumptions Analysis; Diagramming techniques; SWOT; Expert Judgment; Risk Register
Risk Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis Risk Register; Risk Management Plan; Project Scope Statement; OPA Risk Probability and Impact Assessment/Probability and Impact Matrix; Risk data quality assessment; Risk categorization; risk urgency assessment; expert judgement Risk Register Updates
Risk Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis Risk Register; Risk Management Plan; Cost Management Plan; Schedule Management Plan; OPA Data Gathering and Representation Techniques; Probability Distributions; Quantitative Risk Analysis and Modeling Techniques Risk Register Updates
Risk Plan risk response Risk Register; Risk management plan Strategies for negative risks or threats; Strategies for positive risks or opportunities Risk register updates; Risk related contract decisions; project plan updates; project document updates
Procurement Plan procurements Scope Baseline; Requirements Documentation; Teaming agreements; Risk Register; Risk related contract decisions; Activity resource requirements; project schedule; activity costs estimates; cost performance baseline; EEF; OPA Make or Buy Analysis; Expert Judgment; Contract Types; Procurement Management Plan; Procurement Statement of Work; Make or buy decisions; Procurement Documents; Source selection criteria; Change requests
Integration Management Direct and manage project execution Project Management Plan; Approved Change Requests; EEF; OPA Expert Judgment; PMIS Deliverables; Work Performance Information (WPI)
Quality Perform quality assurance Project Management Plan; Quality Metrics; WPI; Qaulity control measurements Plan quality and perform quality control tools and techniques; quality audits; process analysis OPA updates; change requests; project management plan updates; project document updates
Human Resources Acquire project team Project management plan; EEF; OPA Pre-assignment; negotiation; acquisition; virtual teams Project staff assignments; resource calendars; project management plan updates
Human Resources Develop project team Project staff assignments; resource calendars; project management plan Interpersonal skills; training; team building activities; ground rules; co-location; recognition and rewards; Team performance assessments; EEF;
Human Resources Manage project team Project staff assignments; project management plan; Team performance assessments; Performance Reports; OPA Observation & conversation; Project performance appraisals; conflict management; Issue Log; Interpersonal skills; EEF Updates; OPA updates; Change requests; Project Management Plan Updates
Communications Distribute information Project management plan; performance reports; OPA; Communication methods; Information distribution tools; OPA updates
Procurement Conduct procurements Project Management Plan; Procurement Documents; Source Selection Criteria; Qualified Sellers List; Make or Buy Decisions; Teaming Agreements; OPA Bidder Conferences; Proposal Evaluation Techniques; Independent Estimates; Expert Judgement; Advertising; Internet Search; Procurement Negotiations Selected Sellers; Procurement Contract Award; Resource Calendar; Change Requests; Project Management Plan Updates; Project Document Updates
Monitor & Control
Integration Management Monitor & control project work Project Management Plan;Performance Reports; EEF; OPA Expert Judgement Change Requests; Project Management Plan Updates; Project Document Updates
Integration Management Perform integrated change control Project Management Plan; WPI; Change Requests; EEF; OPA Expert Judgement; Change Control Meetings Change Request Status Updates; Project Management Plan Updates; Project Document Updates
Scope Verify scope Project management plan; Requirements documentation; Requirements traceability matrix; Validated deliverables Inspection accepted deliverables; Change requests; project document updates
Scope Control scope Project management plan; WPI; Requirements documentation; Requirements traceability matrix; OPA Variance analysis Work performance measurements (WPM); OPA updates; Change Requests; Project management plan updates; Project document updates
Time Control schedule Project Management Plan; Project Schedule; WPI; OPA Performance Reviews; Variance Analysis; PMIS; Resource leveling; what-if-scenerio analysis; Adjusting leads & lags; schedule compression; scheduling tool Work performance measurements; OPA updates; Change requests; Project Management Plan Updates; Project Document Updates
Costs Control costs Project Management Plan; Project Funding Requirements; WPI; OPA Earned Value Measurement;(CV & CPI); Forecasting (EAC; ETC; TCPI; EV); Performance Reviews; Variance Analysis; PMIS Work Performance Measurements; Budget Forecasts; OPA Updates; Change Requests; Project Management Plan Updates; Project Document Updates
Quality Perform quality control Project management plan; quality metrics; quality checklists; Work performance measurements; approved change requests; deliverables; OPA Cause and Effect Diagrams; Control charts; flow charting; histogram; Pareto chart; run chart; Scatter diagram; statistical sampling; inspection; approved change requests review Qaulity control measurements; Validated changes; Validated deliverables; OPA updates; Change requests; Project Management Plan Updates; Project Document Updates
Communications Manage stakeholder expectations Stakeholder Register; Stakeholder management strategy; Project management Plan; Issue Log; Change Log; OPA Communications methods; Interpersonal skills; Management skills OPA updates; change requests; project management plan updates; project document updates
Communications Report performance Project Management Plan; Work Performance Information; Work Performance Measurements; Budget Forecast; OPA Variance Analysis; Forecasting Methods (EAC; ETC); Communications Methods; Reporting Systems Performance Reports; OPA Updates; Change Requests
Risk Monitor & control risks Risk Register; Project Management Plan; Work Performance Information; Performance Reports Risk assessment; Risk audits; Variance and trend analysis; Technical performance measurement; Reserve Analysis; Status Meetings Risk Register Updates; OPA Updates; Change Requests; Project Management Plan Updates; Project Document Updates
Procurement Administer procurements Procurement Documents; Project Management Plan; Contract; Performance Reports; Approved Change Requests; Work Performance Information; Contract Change Control System; Procurement Performance Reviews; Inspections and Audits; Performance Reporting; Payment Systems; Claims Administration; Records and Management System Procurement Documentation; OPA Updates; Change Requests; Project Management Plan Updates
Integration Management Close project or phase Project Management Plan; Accepted Deliverables; OPA Expert Judgement Final Product, Service, or result
Procurement Close procurements Project management Plan; Procurement Documentation Procurement Audits; Negotiated Settlements; Records Management System; Closed Procurements; OPA Updates