Take back control on your day. Start tracking your time!
As a PMO or Project Manager, one of your obsessions is probably time tracking, whether it's to make sure you have enough resources available for new initiatives or that your projects will be delivered on time without extra costs.
Even though time tracking is one of your priorities for your projects and portfolios, times come where you can feel overwhelmed by the amount of work, tasks and pressure during the day, whether it's professionally or personally. How many times have you told someone or yourself, that you don't have time for something you'd like to do? So how about we start applying to ourselves the methods we use everyday in Project Management and get a better idea of how overwhelmed we really are.
Get a better understanding of how your hours are spent
In her book “We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter” Celeste Headlee provides us with her insight on time tracking. She explains that even though the number of working hours have significantly dropped since the mid-1960’s, many people still feel like they work too many hours which can have damaging effects.
Because we don’t have a clear idea of how we consume hours during the day, we can easily feel overwhelmed, leading to bad decision making, stress, anxiety etc. People that are very well aware of their schedule tend to make more time for extra-activities or no activity at all, feeling more relaxed and in control of their day.
So how can we retake control of our day and get better visibility? I think you know the answer… Time tracking of course!
Start tracking your time
PM and PMO tend to run after timesheets, because we know it’s an efficient way to organize our work and plan our projects. However, we are not always able to apply the best practices of project management to ourselves. So, here is Celeste Headlee’s advice: start tracking your time right now!
Get a pen and paper and start taking notes on what it is you are doing from the moment you wake up until the time you get to bed. If you spend 20 min on Instagram, write it down. If you are taking a coffee bref, write it down. If you went through a 1h30 meeting, write it down. You are doing it for yourself, no one else will see it.
At the end of the week, you will get a real idea of what you are doing during the day, if you really are overwhelmed at work (it can be true) and what new activities you could actually add to your schedule.
Make a schedule… and stick to it
Now that you have visibility on your daily activities, the next step according to Celeste Headlee is to create a routine. Routines are the best way to create new habits. Create a schedule according to your days: if you are going to the gym, or have to pick the kids from school or even go to your piano lesson. Cut the day in 30min/1h sessions and write down the main activities you need to get done in a day. Limit your social media or TV activities to a specific time of day and you’ll realize that you’ll have plenty of time to more… or just nothing.