Does my organisation have the capacity to undertake this new task or project?  This is one of the common questions that many companies, especially those experiencing strong growth and with limited resources, ask themselves every day.

How do you know if your resources can manage the increasing number of tasks and projects in the days, weeks and months ahead?  Managing under-resourced companies growing at a fast pace, I have learned that the most important point is to know the capabilities of yourself and of your team and then to be able to decide which projects or tasks to execute, which to put on hold and which to abandon altogether.

A way to manage this is situation is by following these two steps:

Estimate the time every task will take. This must be discussed and agreed with the person or group of people
that is going to perform the activity, trying to consider all relevant aspects.  Measure and register the actual time spent in every job done every day, every hour.  It is key to report the spent time frequently and consistently to be accurate.  People forget what they did the day before or how much time it took.

As Peter Drucker once said, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” If all team members register their spent time in any of the activities, tasks and projects that are being pursued, then project managers are immediately aware of such important things as:

• Are we ahead or delayed in the execution of the task?
• Was the task/project estimated time correct?
• Are we spending too much time on a task? Does it need improvement or re-engineering?
• Do we have free time to add a new activity, task or project?
• Do we need to reprioritise, put tasks on hold or abandon any of them?
• Do we need more resources to undertake existing or new tasks or projects?

Following this process also helps team members to look back and review their progress, to see what was achieved on a certain date and fulfil the humans’ inherent need for progression and growth. This helps to alleviate any feelings of frustration that employees often suffer from perceiving a lack of progress, overload or lack of direction.Following this pattern of project or task management has the longer-term benefit of changing employee behaviours. Since everybody becomes more aware of both the limited time available and pre-existing workloads, organisations become intrinsically better at organising and prioritising tasks and projects.

Alfredo Puche – The Alternative Board Nelson and Marlborough

Blog Working Time Management