UX Project Management Series: Time Management and You (Part Two)
Welcome back to our UXproject management series – if you missed yesterday’s installment you can find it under the UX Daily tab on our website. We’re look at some basic time management skills that can help creatives meet deadlines and find a better work-life balance.
Say “No” But in the Right Way
One of the easiest ways to protect your time is to learn to say “no”. However, a blunt refusal to do something is likely to get you into trouble. A much better way to refuse is to offer a good reason for not doing something. This is easiest if you keep a nice visible list of activities and projects that you’re working on. When someone comes to try and add something to the pile you can say; “I’d love to help but as you can see my schedule’s really full. What would you like me to deprioritize to work on this project?” That way, if you do get stuck with something else – you get rid of something from the pile too.
Get Your Head out of Your Inbox
The biggest time sink in the modern working environment is e-mail. People have become ridiculously used to sending an e-mail and getting an instant response. The best way to deal with e-mail is to check it 3 times a day – first thing in the morning, just after lunch and then just before you leave for the day. Set up an auto-response message like this one; “Hi, thank you for your e-mail. I check my e-mail at a 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. and will respond at that point. If you have a particularly urgent concern please call me or come and see me and I will try to help.”
That way people get a response (there’s no need to disappoint them) and you can manage your e-mail sensibly.
If you find that you’re always getting side tracked when you should be working; it’s best just to eliminate distractions. Turn your mobile off. Switch your answer phone on (but leave a message). Close your IM clients. If you need to cut out co-workers a pair of headphones can be invaluable too (they don’t even need to be plugged in – just the sight of someone intensely concentrating with headphones off can deter the unwelcome visitor).
Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
If you’ve achieved a certain seniority – it’s because your time is too valuable to waste on minutiae. That means you need to learn to delegate. Work should end up with the person who is paid the least amount of money but can still complete the task satisfactorily. Many people try and cling on to responsibilities as they climb the ladder – it’s a bad idea. You need to learn to trust others and then push work down to them. If they don’t deliver – hold them responsible and accountable for their failures but do try to ensure that you’re communicating what’s needed and when it’s needed properly first.