Ideas, suggestions and general thoughts about project management for development.

Improve the Management of your Personal Time

b2ap3_thumbnail_managing-personal-time.pngIt is common to see project managers overwhelmed by the amount of work that lands on their desk and not being able to find enough time in a day to accomplish all that work. The moment the finalize a project report a new request comes asking for more information that will take a lot of work to get it organized. But the use of simple and effective time management techniques can help in getting more done each day. It will not only help manage the time more wisely, but can also help minimize stress and improve the quality of life.

Here are some tips project managers should consider in their day to day work:

Plan each day. Use a Project Log or Diary, and on the first day of the week write a to-do list of all the tasks assigned to you, write next to each item the date when the task is needed. This schedule of the daily activities will help minimize conflicts and last-minute rushes.

  • Prioritize your tasks. Prioritizing the list of task will ensure that time and energy is spent on those tasks that are truly important to the project. Mark the list with a simple code such as “A” for most important, “B” important and “C” less important.
  • Work on essential tasks first. Tasks or activities that are most important to the project (marked as A) should be done first, evaluate the time and ensure you block enough time during the week to do them. See if there is enough time to do some of the tasks labeled as “B”. Until all top priorities have been completed don't take on less important ones.
  • Delegate. Consider if those activities labeled “B” or “C” in the to-do list can either be postponed or delegated to someone else in the project.
  • Delete non essential tasks. Activities marked a “C” are less important, evaluate if they can either be moved to the next week, or deleted from the list.
  • Know when you work best. Some managers are morning people, while others work better in the afternoon. Know your most productive hours of the day and schedule the priority tasks to work during those hours.
  • Evaluate your progress. Every day revise the to-do-list and see how you're spending your time. Mark tasks as completed and evaluate if the to-do list of tasks need to be re-prioritized, also check for any changes on the due dates.

The 80:20 Rule

The Pareto Principle or the '80:20 Rule' says that typically 80% of effort focused on noncritical tasks generates only 20% of results. This means that the remaining 80% of results are achieved with only 20% of the effort on the critical tasks.  This simple rule explains that by prioritizing and selecting approximately 20% of the task on the to-do list you can achieve 80% of your work.

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Making the Right Presentations

b2ap3_thumbnail_making-the-right-presentations.pngHere are some tips to help you prepare for your next project presentation.

The purpose of any presentation, written, oral or visual, is communication; and to communicate effectively, the information must be stated in a simple, concise and interesting manner. Your audience should be able to understand the purpose of the presentation; this involves knowing the audience, the occasion, and the expectations of the audience. This will be a critical determinant in what information is presented and how it is presented. You have to tailor the message to the audience - understand their needs, desires, knowledge level, and attitude toward the topic while being concrete, specific, practical, and relevant.

People learn and retain more information when learning is reinforced by visualization. Simple, clear, concise visual images, will lend support to the spoken words. This leaves the audience with a positive attitude toward the content of the presentation.

A good presentation is made up of four basic components:

  • The Opening. Participants are introduced to the purpose of the presentation. It should be a brief summary or outline of the points to be covered. This helps keep your audience oriented properly within the framework of your presentation.
  • The Body. This is where the subject matter is presented. The body should be separated into smaller, easily assimilated modules. Each module or sub-section should make a single point or convey one idea. These sub-sections should each have their · own simple opening, body and summary.
  • The Summary.  This portion should be very brief and simple. It is a chance to reinforce the central theme and purpose of the presentation. The goal is to briefly emphasize the key points and main ideas of the presentation.
  • The Closing. The points that were raised during the question and answer session are summarized and any handout material that was not required during the presentation is distributed. This allows the audience to review the subject and assures that the ideas presented will remain fresh in their minds.

Using PowerPoint Slides

  • When making a presentation that is using a PowerPoint Slide or other type of visual aid, do not read the text, unless people in the room do not know how to read. Repeating the text that is on the screen is just a waste of time.
  • Make eye contact with all the audience and speak in a clear voice, adding more content to the ideas presented to draw the audience attention.
  • On the day of the presentation, arrive and set up early. Have spare projector bulbs and extra copies of the handout material close at hand.
  • Images and text should be legible for anyone; a good test is to go to the back of the room and see if the text is readable.
  • Try to use large letters and 4 or 6 lines of text per slide, don’t clutter the slide with graphics or use too many colors and different fonts. Use font sizes large enough to view from anywhere in the room try not to use fonts smaller than 28 points.
  • Excessive use of Clip art, sound, fonts, colors, backgrounds, transitions can be distracting and can misdirect the attention of the audience from the intended content.

Another good strategy is to deliver the hard copy of the slides at the end of the presentation that will keep people from reading ahead of you and miss your talking points. Make sure that you go over all your materials the day before the presentation to ensure that you have all that you need.

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