Updated: Oct 1, 2021
If you find yourself consistently working more than 8 hours in a day, you're wondering if the 8 hour workday is a thing of the past. If you're experiencing 10-12 hour workdays for an IT Project Management job, it's time to evaluate where are those hours are being spent and realize not everything was "due yesterday."
First, think about your current workday and itemize what your activities are during those days. Are they filled with meetings? Are you trying to finish absolutely everything before you walk out the door? How are you organizing your day?
What follows are 7 of the ways for IT Project Managers to start the journey toward a normal 8 hour workday...
There will be meeting requests that will come in on a day where you have urgent to do tasks. Evaluate the urgency of this meeting and if it requires your immediate attention. If this topic can be discussed later you can propose a new time indicating that you have urgent things to do. Or, you can delegate the call to someone that will get back to you with status.
For example, if the meeting is for a requirements gathering session the Business Analyst should be accountable for this meeting anyway. Ask that person to get back to you if they need your help and to pull you into the call.
The exception here is if this is a call relating to an urgent action that cannot wait and could impact the project timeline. You need to put things aside and attend to this call. If you were working on an important action, let the person know you need to attend urgent calls so they are not left wondering why the task is not done.
If you're in the office and you have urgent items to work on be honest with people who just want to casually talk and tell them you're too busy to talk right now. When you waste time, you only delay the inevitable.
Block out time on your calendar for to do tasks
Take a look at your calendar and see if there are about 2 hours you can block out. These 2 hours don't have to be consecutive as you can have 1 in the morning and one in the afternoon. Decide on timeframes where you normally have a down time of meetings or where calls are usually not urgent. It doesn't specifically need to be 2 hours but decide on an amount of time that works for you.
This is especially effective if you work with remote or offshore teams because , if they're seeking to set up a call, they will see that your time has been blocked and won't book during that timeframe.
Don't multitask during meetings
The meetings that you attend should be meetings where you will either be presenting or giving feedback. During these calls, do not multitask because you will miss important actions or decisions that may lead to re-work later on. Make sure you are noting: decisions made and next actions so you have an inventory of tasks to help you manage your day.
Ask for yourself to be optional for meetings such as: technical designs, test script development or any other type of deep technical discussion. Notify the person accountable for these meetings that they can reach out to you with any urgencies. If you micro-manage to be involved in every meeting then you will have less time to get your administrative tasks done.
Put an end-of-day reminder or notification to summarize your day
When you reach the end of your day, leave the last 15 minutes to outline what needs to be done tomorrow or the rest of the week. Don't just get up and go when the clock reaches 5 o'clock. This way, you're not walking in tomorrow wondering what you need to take care of first.
This is where you can use a good personal organizer. You can leverage online tools such as the free Google Calendar or buy a traditional book planner.
You don't have to do everything today!
Understand that you can leave less priority tasks for later in the week. For example, if you have status reports due every Friday, why would you work on them on Tuesday or Wednesday? Leave this task for either Thursday afternoon or early Friday to get done.
It's totally fine to walk out of the office with tasks not finished. Just ensure that these tasks are not high-priority where people are expecting a response before you leave. For less priority tasks you have the rest of the week to get them done.
Don't procrastinate on communications that need to be done
Communicate with people as early as you can because if you procrastinate, you run the risk of your action item being delayed. This is especially true when you need to have a difficult conversation with someone. The longer you delay, the longer it will take to set up that meeting.
Delaying too long may throw you into a situation where you now have a "fire-drill" and are now forced to work extra hours.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
When you are in meetings and people are trying to give you action items always question why you should be the one owning that action. You are the project manager. You should be giving action items to your team not not the other way around.
For example, if a developer is asking you to raise a ticket to the support team for them to get their work done - why should you? The developer owns the milestone where they're delivering the product so they should take care of any related actions and not you.
Would you ask a developer to complete your project status report? Of course not. This is why it should work the other way around.
Also, if you have teams in the same time zone but not yourself, have those teams schedule calls during their time zone and establish a delegate that can report back to you. This will help to reduce your before and after hours.
Today's IT world is changing ever faster requiring more project to keep up with the changes. However, it doesn't mean you need to work 24/7 to keep up. One of the main keys to getting back your 8-hour workday is managing your time effectively.