Time is Money

November 15, 2018

A delayed SEC filing might cause share prices to drop. A prototype developed faster could help you get to market quicker and start bringing in new revenue. It’s true what they say—time is money. Here’s how to schedule, meet, and prioritize your way to increased productivity and a better bottom line.

Schedule Smart

Scheduling and success go hand in hand. Completing projects on time, under budget, and as specified requires teams to schedule projects effectively and stick to established timelines. 

Every company is a hybrid. In some ways, it’s like a machine that requires fuel and maintenance, and in other ways, it’s like a living entity which must respond to an unpredictable environment. Effective project management and scheduling balance those two aspects, providing enough structure to keep the work on track, plus the flexibility to respond to problems and opportunities that arise unexpectedly.

Project management tools are an essential aspect of team management, especially as project teams become more likely to be distributed and work becomes more and more digital. Choosing the right tool, onboarding new team members effectively, and integrating the tool into daily workflow are essential.

Meet Wisely

Scheduling unnecessary meetings and letting meetings go on too long are two of the quickest ways to waste time and money. Steering clear of those two pitfalls benefits the bottom line directly by making teams more productive and indirectly by demonstrating to employees that their time is valued and that they are respected.

Use these techniques to keep meetings—and teams—on track:

> Start on time. The meeting leader should respect attendees’ time by calling the meeting to order at the scheduled start time. If someone arrives late, don’t restart the meeting or go back and review what has already been covered.

> Have a clear purpose. Don’t assume the reason for the meeting is obvious or that everyone attending remembers the reason stated in the invitation. Begin by saying what the meeting is intended to accomplish and provide an agenda.

> Stay on topic. One person should have the role of interjecting if the discussion drifts away from the agenda. The meeting leader could do this, but sometimes it’s more effective for the leader to encourage discussion and assign one attendee the role of “topic cop.”

> Get clarity and commitments. Be clear about decisions made regarding each agenda item, next steps, and who has committed to take action.

> Keep a record. Even if the meeting is not formal enough for minutes, the meeting leader should distribute notes within 24 hours, including decisions, next steps, and commitments to act.

Prioritize Ruthlessly

With limited time, seemingly unlimited demands on team members’ time, and an ever-changing mix of large and small tasks, it is vital to prioritize. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said he was guided throughout his career by this principle: “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” Urgent tasks are those that require immediate attention, the items on your to-do list that demand action as soon as possible, while important tasks usually do not require immediate attention but have a much greater impact on success.

Urgent tasks often have an insidious way of stealing time from important tasks and pushing them lower on the priority list. Team members need to understand which tasks are the important ones, and give them the time they need, because they are far more likely to influence the bottom line.