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Time management and meeting deadlines are complex, especially in IT teams or startups. Every CTO, sooner or later, will have to answer this difficult question: “How much time do we have and when this should be done?” Sometimes you’re given a hard “end date” your team must reach and deliver a product no matter what.
So how can you find time in high-pressure times where the tasks are growing? Check out some techniques proposed by an expert and get to know methods of reaching deadline without going grey.
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Dan Kennedy, in his book No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs, writes about time-management techniques that help every CTO or team leader stop wasting time. We chose 4 techniques that are the most helpful.
#1 Make a list!
It’s an old and trusted way of managing tasks on time. Make a list to keep yourself focused on the task at hand and follow the bullet points. You can’t store everything in your head and rely just on your memory.
Kennedy gives us 4 basic types of lists:
- General schedule – you make an overall plan for the whole year (month by month).
- Things-to-Do – organize this list by week and day and prioritize your tasks as A, B, and C (from the most to less important).
- People-to-Call/ People-to-Meet – prioritize this list from the most crucial calls
- Conference Planner – when you’re going to an event or meet-up, make a list of people and topics you want to discuss with them during an interaction. When you get a new idea or inspiration you want to share with a person (for example during their speech at a conference) – you just add it to your existing list and voilà!
Learn and practice making lists that meet your needs and work for your style of managing. For every CTO, saving time means saving money in the long run!
#2 Minimize meetings
As you may know, a lot of meetings are pointless and end with no real and satisfying business outcome. Before any meeting, consider whether it’ll be profitable for your company and how much time you can sacrifice. A great idea is to identify the most important points during the meeting and focus on those.
#3 Blocking Time
Kennedy’s schedule, as he reveals, has got blocked appointments with his work to do and… himself. Day after day you’re blocking your time for meetings, events, writing blog posts or working on an article. Good! Your aim is to fill these tasks in such a manner that you’ll have as little unassigned time as possible.
If you pre-block your time for certain tasks, you’ll get a hint of how much spare time you have. A good idea is to lock in your time months ahead. If you have any necessary phone calls that you make frequently, book them into one day in a week or month. Create a Phone Day and book calls ahead.
When your time is set in stone for essential things to do, you won’t waste it on unnecessary meetings or worthless activities. Thanks to that, you can plan and assign more time for discussing emergency issues with your team.
If you want to read more about managing an agile team in the IT industry, check this list of resources.
#4 Use your “additional time” wisely
A tremendous amount of valuable resources are portable now. You can watch a great TED talk online, read an e-book, study infographics or read articles on your phone. The access to information is really overwhelming. It’s a shame not to use it during a break!
You’ve probably thought about making phone calls, checking emails or texting when you read about waiting and spare time, well no wonder Kennedy advises something else. According to him, you won’t be focused enough to do those tasks well enough.
Use those moments for yourself! Don’t let anything or anyone steal them. It’s time for thinking, exploring, reading, considering and processing information.
Stuck in a traffic jam? Waiting at the airport? Is somebody late for a meeting with you? These additional minutes may serve as a moment to get inspired! Such discipline allows for minimizing the wasting of time.
Reaching deadlines in the IT industry can be a challenge, which every CTO knows well. Is a completely new product being developed? A new solution deployed? Then it’s that much harder to do it on time.
If you want to be innovative, you have to accept challenges. Be prepared for situations where your developers will be doing something for the first time or without enough knowledge and skills.
When planning such work, be careful and precise. it’s a good idea to follow an agile software development framework such as Scrum.
In an agile team, your planned project and its progress will be more stable, and any eventual problems or delays can be solved at the right time.
Communication with Clients
When you’re running out of time and the clock is ticking louder and louder, the most important thing (besides cold blood) is communication. Make sure that your clients are kept up-to-date on the project from the beginning – it really allows them to grasp the current phase of ongoing work and understand it.
By maintaining clear communication with your client, you can easily indicate where their time-connected expectations aren’t meeting reality. It’ll allow for making adjustments and reaching the goal and meeting deadline without too much pressure and stress.
One of your solutions isn’t working? Do you have to finish the project on time? Always plan some time for an emergency meeting and brainstorming! Taking that into account in your estimations will allow you to gather your team, re-think the strategy, and discuss any delicate issues.
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