10 Things Series – Part one: Project Management

Diary and Time Management

Project management skills can make the difference between work success and failure. Some simple everyday habits will help you to become better at managing not only your workload but your time more efficiently. They will give you peace of mind allowing you to stop worrying about the little things, and focus on producing work and hitting deadlines.


1. Put Critical Dates in your Diary

Believe it or not, many people do not do this, but it helps to clear your mind and clarifies what you must achieve, giving you clear, realistic goals.


2. Use an Electronic diary and Sync to your Phone or a Mobile Device

Simply put, a paper diary cannot send you a reminder of an upcoming scheduled event. It can’t set a reminder in advance of a deadline, and you can’t snooze it if you are busy to remind you again later when its more convenient. An electronic diary is critical to ensure you stay on track with your workload and schedule your time efficiently.


3. Turn your Emails into Calendar Appointments

If people email you a list of meetings or deadlines, don’t let them sit in your inbox. Put them straight into your calendar and set reminders. There is no better time to do this than immediately when you receive the email. Emails very quickly move down your inbox and meeting times, and deadlines slip from your memory.


4. Use the Notes Field in your Calendar Appointments

Having everything on hand is critical, so you are prepared. Attach meeting agendas, questions you need to clarify, locations, contact details of who you are meeting, even attachments. Put as much as you can in your calendar entries so that they are on hand when you attend.


5. Invite People to Meetings using your Calendar

Don’t email people dates for meetings. Send them a calendar invite. You can track who has accepted and therefore, who to chase if you haven’t had a response. If someone can’t attend a meeting you have invited them to for whatever reason, they can suggest an alternative date to suit.


6. Allow for Travel Time and Send Apologies if you Can’t Attend

Arriving late to a meeting is not only rude but embarrassing so allow for your travel time. If you are running late, inform whoever you are meeting in advance of the meeting and give them your anticipated arrival time. If you are unable to attend, send your apologies in advance, so the meeting can either be rearranged or go ahead without you, with a smaller impact on everyone else’s time.


7. Set Reminders

Set calendar reminders to prompt you in advance of an event. If you have a meeting, set a reminder 15 or 30 minutes before, to give you time to stop what you are working on and prepare. If you have a deadline, set a reminder a few hours before so you can check your final piece of work. Don’t get caught short or side-tracked by other work and people. Allow yourself to focus on time-critical tasks.


8. Book out Time in your Diary to do Projects

If you are working on a project with a deadline, clearly mark out time to do this in your diary and create a to-do list. Use this time to focus on each specific piece of work on your list, giving yourself room to develop ideas and produce your work. Allocated time allows you to work with a clear head and therefore you will be more productive.


9. Do not Overcommit your Time

One of the biggest causes of a missed meeting or deadline is that you take on too much. Be realistic and learn to say no if you cannot fit in a meeting. People are usually flexible and will suggest an alternative date if it is possible.


10. Be Kind to Yourself but Learn from your Mistakes

Occasionally, a meeting or a deadline will be missed. It can’t always be avoided and often it isn’t your fault, but take the time to analyse what went wrong so you can prevent it happening again in the future.






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