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Task Lists, Time Management, and the Project Manager

written by: eschulze • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 6/30/2011

If you are a Project Manager, you probably got to that position because you have a propensity for lists. Whether it be task lists, or tracking your time on paper, the ability to not only write a list but make it work for you is a powerful tool.

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    How many lists do you have going at one time and where do you keep them?

    The problem with technology is overload, in many cases. You might have a list in your project management computer application or your Palm Pilot or BlackBerry or Outlook calendar. You may share lists with other staff or begin a new list every day. You may back it up to a flash drive or call your phone and leave yourself messages. All of these work, but how about compiling everything into a cohesive plan so that you can succeed in getting those pesky items off your project task list?

    Advice can be given and you may even consider ideas you come across, but the bottom line is that it is up to you to choose what task management application you are going use and not only adhere to it, but update it as well.

    • Start with a non-project. Practice at home with your honey-do or chore list. On Sunday, map out what you want to do on which day and enter it in the device you choose with the software you decide to use.

    • Set aside a specific time every day to update the list and rearrange your tasks. Shuffle things around to fit better into the next day’s schedule. When you find the system works and your discipline to complete the designated tasks have been affected by the new system, you know you are on to something.

    • If you have the ability and technological know-how, syncing your phone or palm device and computer is the most effective way to track your tasks. Sit down with your administrative staff for an hour or two and have them tutor you on the computer application you are using. Be careful to acknowledge their value as an employee and don’t take over their duties, but knowing your software will allow you flexibility throughout the project and is a sign of a good manager.

    Project Managers are often defined as self-disciplined and pragmatic, but many times that is not the case. Often a project manager is more of a glorified coordinator who is independent and responsive. If you lean closer to the coordinator than the project manager, you need to teach yourself better task management to be useful to your boss. Getting control of task lists and better managing your time indicates self-discipline and an action driven personality, characteristics valued in a project manager.

    Determine your end goal and don’t give up until you achieve mastery of the task list.