Our relationship with time is very personal. We all perceive it in different ways. On a world scale, that can manifest as time culture. How well do you understand your relationship with time? Socrates said, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” The idea of knowing oneself is paramount to team and personal success. To reinforce that, Sun Tzu, the Chinese military strategist, and philosopher is often attributed with the maxim, “know others and know thyself, and you will not be endangered by innumerable battles.”1
What is your relationship with time tracking?
How well do the people on your project team manage their time? Are deadlines frequently or infrequently missed? “Procrastination is perpetuated by good intentions combined with bad habits.”2 Procrastinators can inadvertently sabotage themselves by putting off difficult or challenging tasks until tomorrow. It is human nature to dodge discomfort, uncertainty, or change. The trick is to put effective time tracking techniques and systems in place to trick ourselves – to trick our brains – into staying on task when we need them to.3
By contrast, our relationship with time management is not necessarily unique and can be commonly held. Typically, people in the West say that time is money. Cultures and organizations that hold a black and white perception of punctuality are said to be monochronic. People comfortable with this form of time usage are task oriented and emphasize the value of being prompt. Polychronic culture places a different emphasis on time that might be seen as more emotional and event driven. “Their concept of time is free-flowing, and changes depending on each situation. Distractions and interruptions are a natural part of life, and have to be taken in stride.”4
Consider time management software
Systems and tools such as LiquidPlanner serve as a means to bring together diverse groups, so they are literally on the same page. A dedicated and purpose-built platform enables collaboration in a manner that is not possible using something simpler like Microsoft Excel. For example, a bespoke tool ensures good data quality, so insight is relevant, timely, and actionable. To be clear, when time management is a concern, a best-in-class software solution can swiftly solve these time tracking challenges. By employing a dynamic scheduling engine that is integrated with time tracking, your project schedules are updated in real-time as progress is logged. Notably, LiquidPlanner offers this functionality and enhanced planning intelligence, enabling teams to both visualize where time has been spent and optimize future workload plans or forecasts – ultimately reducing your risk of error and delay.
When it comes to time management skills, it is human nature to underestimate the time taken to complete a task. The effect of this psychological phenomenon5 can be mitigated in several ways. Rather than estimating a single completion target, one effective tactic is to provide teams the ability to report a range of possible completion dates. LiquidPlanner not only satisfies this need, it also offers this functionality to all team members, at any stage during project delivery, when better information emerges. Such dynamic ranged estimates can be subsequently employed by modern tools like LiquidPlanner to generate predictive insight where it is possible for “group superforecasting methods to achieve 80-85 percent accuracy.”6
Finally, it can be noted that dedicated project management tools also provide teams the ability to capture insight consistently, or reference class7 data, that allows them to learn more effectively from past experience, make more accurate estimates, and better manage what everyone may agree is the most precious of scarce resources: time.
Is your project team empowered to create time management techniques that better enable all individuals to successfully meet your project and business commitments? If you have not tried it already, LiquidPlanner can help teams better communicate revised forecasts and more effectively navigate uncertainty in the face of known and emerging risks.
About the Author
With more than 20 years’ professional experience, James Arrow has played a key role in successfully delivering critical capital assets, in a variety of locations, around the world. Having had the opportunity to work with diverse teams across the globe, James is well-versed on project best practices and applies exceptional communication skills to lead multi-disciplinary teams. An effective hands-on team-player, James is also an acclaimed writer and speaker on topics concerning project risk management, data analytics, data science, including digital disruption in the engineering and construction sector. In recent years, on several occasions, James has been formally recognized by his peers for his contributions to the profession.
1 Ralph Sawyer, and Mei-chun Lee Sawyer. Sun Tzu the Art of War. 500AD. New York, NY, Barnes & Noble, 1994.
2 Combs, Jeffery. The Procrastination Cure: 7 Steps to Stop Putting Life Off. Pompton Plains, NJ, Career Press, 2011.
3 Levitin, Daniel J. The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload. New York, NY, Penguin Random House, 2014.
4 Group, United Language. “Do You Experience Polychronic or Monochronic Time?” Www.unitedlanguagegroup.com, 2022, www.unitedlanguagegroup.com/blog/polychronic-monochronic-time#:~:text=Polychronic%20means%20a%20culture%20does%20many%20things%20at. Accessed 14 June 2022.
5 Wikipedia Contributors. “Planning Fallacy.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 8 Sept. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planning_fallacy. Accessed 14 June 2022.
6 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, And Medicine (U.S.). Emerging Trends and Methods in International Security: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC, National Academies Press, 2018.
7 Wikipedia contributors. “Reference Class Problem.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 14 Dec. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reference_class_problem. Accessed 14 June 2022.