Monthly Archives: November 2015

It seems that more and more employers are striving to get more out of their employees. Lately, companies have been struggling with budget cuts and layoffs which means that the employees who still have jobs need to pick up the slack. This is when time management becomes critical. Employees need to learn how to deal with more tasks in the same amount of time. Sometimes, this can be very stressful and harmful to the work environment and in fact, some companies have found it worthwhile to bring in a speaker on time management.

One of the most useful tips is to prioritize your day. Figure out everything you need to accomplish for the day and map out your day. Decide what is most critical to getting finished and start with that. Once, you have a plan it is easier to stay focused on the tasks at hand. It is always a good idea to start with the most critical job, because if you put it off until the end of the day, you might run out of time and feel pressure to finish it. This can produce sloppy work that could cost you in the long run.

Another tip is to set yourself a time table and stick to it. Don’t let yourself take that first break in the morning until you have finished a certain number of your tasks. Then you can reward yourself for a job well done. Try to set a number of things you want to accomplish before lunch. That way you can relax and enjoy yourself at lunch knowing that you are on time for your projects. Try to minimize your socializing at work. This can get you off track and lead to stress at the end of the day.

One final tip is to ask for help! If you see a colleague has some extra time, see if they will help you out. This always makes for a good work environment if you can count on each other for help. Team work is always a good part of a healthy work environment. This way, everyone knows they can count on each other if they get in a bind.

Rick enjoys writing articles on a wide variety of topics and interests. Come visit his latest website over at small dining tables which helps people find the right patio dining tables that they need for their home.

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In spite of the fact that project task durations are often conservatively estimated to begin with, the presence of certain behaviors can cause them to increase even more. Critical Chain Project Management and project scheduling eliminates these behaviors and reduces project lead times.

Four behaviors make project durations longer than necessary.

Deliberate Padding

Once the people doing the work have conservatively estimated their tasks, the estimates are then passed through several layers of management where they are increased even more. Because managers feel they must protect their own performance, in many organizations task estimates are not treated as “estimates,” they are treated as “commitments.” People don’t want to be late on commitments, thus, they “pad” their estimates of how long a given task will take.

Student Syndrome

“Student syndrome” is a term that pertains to the psychology of procrastinating, something students are particularly prone to do. The analogy is to students who are going to take a test. When do they study for it? The night before! Why? Because they have much more important things to do! Often in projects, people start too late, using their safety time to work on other things, thinking they still have enough time to complete the task on time. After they begin the task, they run into problems, causing it to take even longer than the original padded estimate. The student syndrome causes longer durations because some of the time needed to complete a task is lost when it’s started too late or even when it’s started “just in time.” Then, Murphy causes the task to take even longer.

This “Murphy” is really two things: common cause process variation and special cause process variation. The two types of variation are not differentiated in the text, but in the implementation, must be treated differently. Common cause variation can be predicted and managed using the CCPM approach. Special cause variation must be treated separately in a risk analysis process.

Bad Multitasking

Multitasking occurs when an individual is working on more than one task at the same time. There are two kinds of multitasking: good and bad. Good multitasking is moving two or more tasks along together smoothly, such as catching up on customer calls while heading to a meeting. On the other hand, bad multitasking is anything but smooth. It’s the dropping of work on one task before it is finished in order to start another, only to stop and begin yet another task or go back to a previous task. All too often, people aren’t able to complete a task without getting pulled off onto something else, so “task time” grows each time a change is necessary. Goldratt wants you to see that the majority of task completion time is not used for the actual work, but is waiting or queue time. Tasks ready to be worked on cannot be worked on because there is no available resource. If the estimates are too long, during execution the actual time will grow even longer! No wonder projects consistently finish late and over budget.

Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law states the amount of work rises to fill the time available to complete it. In projects, it means that early task completions are never reported. Resources will continue to work on “improving” their task or will simply find something else to do until the due date of that task. In any case, the result to the project is that only the late finishes are recognized, so the only way a project timeline moves is out.

These two behaviors, student syndrome and multi-tasking, have the same root cause – the lack of clear priorities. Student syndrome occurs when you believe the real due date is distant relative to the amount of time needed to complete the task, while bad multitasking is caused by not recognizing the real priority of tasks until they become late relative to the “need by” date.

Why Do Projects Take So Long?

We add too much time to the original plan. We allow x amount of time, so it takes x amount of time.
Our resources multi-task, adding unnecessary work (additional setups) to the project
The Student Syndrome causes us to waste whatever buffer we did have, adding more time to our already generous estimates.
Parkinson’s Law blocks us from taking advantage of any favorable variation (tasks finishing early) the project experiences.

Implications for Project Management

Critical chain seeks to reduce / eliminate these behaviors, and therefore they are not planned for in the project. We can overcome deliberate padding, student syndrome, bad multitasking and Parkinson’s Law through better management and communication.

By eliminating these behaviors from our projects, the time to finish the project is reduced.

After removing the safety time from these tasks, the critical path is shortened significantly. These are the reasons that projects managed using the critical chain method consistently finish in less time than projects that do not use this approach.

For his entire career Mark Woeppel has been challenging the status quo in organizations, helping to make changes that matter. He is founder and president of Pinnacle Strategies, a consulting firm delivering Critical Chain CCPM implementation and training. He is the author of Projects in Less Time: A Synopsis of Critical Chain.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by how much you have to get done and by how little time you have to do it? Well, there are few ways to help you with your time management. The easiest way is to write everything down that needs to be done. Then go through the list and figure out what the most important thing to accomplish is. Start with that job and work your way through the list. Try and stay focused and not get distracted. This is hard to do when you are at home, but really try. You will get all your work done and have time to relax later.

Another way is to set aside time every weekend for chores. Make a list of all the chores you would like done on the weekend. Divide them up among your family members or let them choose the jobs they prefer to do. Make sure everyone is doing something and have everyone working at the same time. This way everyone will stay motivated and get their jobs done quickly and efficiently. If one person puts off their chores until later then everyone tends to want to take a break and it takes longer to accomplish. A nice reward to this is that everyone works hard together and then can relax together once the work is done.

The main thing about any time management success story is not to procrastinate. This just causes stress because then it is crunch time and things are rushed to get done and usually the quality isn’t very good. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to finish your tasks to the best of your ability. This is easy to say but very hard to do. Test yourself by not having a break until a certain job gets done. No cookies until you finish the dusting! Then have a cookie and move on to the vacuuming!

This is a good trick that always worked well in my household and I hope it works well in yours. Just remember to spread out the jobs evenly so that no one feels like he is doing it all.

Rick enjoys writing articles on a wide variety of topics and interests. Come visit his latest website about discounted living room furniture which helps people find the best antique living room furniture and information they need to make a wise decision about home furnishings.

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