What is Hybrid Agile?

The objective of this Blog is to explain the relatively new Project management techniques of Hybrid Agile and how they can potentially help you in managing your projects.

What is Hybrid Agile?

Hybrid agile is a blend of traditional Waterfall Project Management and Agile Project Management in the appropriate bespoke proportions for your projects.

Hybrid Agile Diagram

Traditional project management Follows the “waterfall” approach as shown above in the blue side of the diagram.

Agile Project Management comes from the “agile manifesto” developed circa 20 years ago by software experts. It now broadly means anything that adapts, evolves and provides incremental benefits as it proceeds.

These days the smart people use a bespoke blend of Agile and Waterfall methodologies to suit the project or process.

It may be heavily traditional, heavily agile or balanced between the two.

Lots of people and companies throw about the “agile working” words without knowing what it really means.

Why should I Go Hybrid Agile

You should consider going to hybrid agile where improvement in your process and delivery can deliver benefits. You need to do a business case to satisfy yourself and your management clients that there is value in the investment. Additionally, in a rapidly changing environment If you don’t implement you risk being left behind.

Typical Benefits Realized from Hybrid Agile

Please see the following lists of typical benefits realized by going the Hybrid Agile route.

  • Best of both worlds
  • Reduced process cycle times
  • Reduced costs
  • Better team spirit
  • More satisfied clients

My Hybrid Agile Journey

My Hybrid agile journey started back in 2016 where the Project director gave me a bunch of KANBAN books one morning and requested that I implement for the project. I then Bought a white board and a whole lot of colored magnets.

The KANBAN Pilot Started with procurement and fabrication and then extended to engineering, subcontracts and close out. Over the following months we achieved good measurable successes.

Next was a program of smaller brownfield projects for existing UK North Sea offshore assets. Again, good measurable successes.

At that point stepped out to work as independent consultant and was invited to support a US Gulf of Mexico $14B project undergoing hook up and commissioning.

We are now currently providing remote support to a project team in Houston, and UK. This has resulted in the development of new tools /techniques and a Hybrid Agile course.

Business Processes supported.

The following list summarizes the business processes currently supported.

  • Subcontracts
  • Rentals
  • Integrity Management (500+ scopes)
  • Asset Maintenance
  • QA Non-Conformances
  • Plant Shutdowns
  • Materials Disposition
  • Contract Transition

Hybrid Business Process

The above figure illustrates the Hybrid business approach.

At the top is the “Blue” strategic fixed high-level procedures for the program or project. These are purposely not too detailed to allow the implementation team flexibility in their working processes.

The “Green” working processes are the actual working processes, “warts and all” and are mapped and iteratively improved  by the team whilst aligning with the “Blue” strategic processes. This gives the team flexibility to self-manage aspects of their processes.

At the bottom is “Yellow” the supporting KANBAN boards where the working process uses standard KANBAN techniques to manage the scopes.

Case Study: Integrity management

For our case study we will consider a program of circa 500 minor maintenance projects per year which were originally managed on a large excel spreadsheet.

The team experienced the following pain points resulting in stress and low efficiency.

  • Multiple Non-Aligned Spreadsheets (COVID Hangover)
  • No Visual Perspective
  • E Mail inundation
  • Missing/Lost Emails
  • People developing individual approaches.
  • Once weekly spreadsheet update

Post Implementation of a Hybrid Agile solution the team has realized the following benefits:

  • Real Time data
  • Visual communication (1000 times quicker)
  • Everyone engaged.
  • Less emails
  • Team focused on same issue at same time.
  • Team cohesion/team spirit
  • Fewer meetings
  • Estimated 2 hours saved per week per person (EMs)
  • Hand off to reporting (Blue Cat)
  • Hand off to Analytics (NAVE)
  • Data driven insights to decision making.
  • Continuous improvement retrospectives

We find that initial improvements can be seen in 2 to 6 weeks with significant improvements and Hybrid Agile process maturity within 4 to 6 months.

Next steps for a Mature Hybrid agile implementation

Continuous incremental improvement is the name of the game for Hybrid agile with the following now being implemented for the above case study.

  • Data Analytics Approach
  • Blue Cat/ Power BI Management dashboards
  • Advanced Hybrid Agile Coaching
  • Exploration of appropriate AI

Data Analytics

Clean data is vital to allow insights into the processes to be realized and to support decisions. By applying standard data cleansing techniques and coding data for easy analysis/manipulation a lot of value can be leveraged to assist in process pinch point identification and resolution.

Hybrid Agile Software Platforms

The main software system that we use is Trello, a cloud-based KANBAN system. This has been chosen as its feature rich and supported by a number of third party “Power ups” or Apps which increase the functionality. There are other software systems available which can be used in similar manner including Teams planner, Azure , Monday, Kanbanize etc.

One of the most powerful features of Trello is that it is a visual system with people estimated to assimilate visual information up to 1000 times faster than written text. This combined with sophisticated filtering and labelling capability allows mtg appropriate custom views to be shared with teams at the regular synchronization meetings .

Trello Cards

Hybrid Agile Coaching

Hybrid agile implementations do not succeed based on a “teach and walk away” approach. It is important to continue to support and coach all team members to build their skills and to ensure consistency of approach.

Artificial Intelligence considerations

With the arrival of Artificial Intelligence, a Structured Hybrid Agile process using data analytics methods lends itself to the use of appropriate AI to find insights not easily visible and to support management decisions.

Hybrid Agile Process

The Hybrid agile process is summarized below.

  • Position Statement
  • Process mapping
  • KANBAN Board
  • Reporting
  • Analytics

Position Statement

This is a structured approach to get all stakeholders to the same understanding and agreement on sequence of actions. Please see Position Statement

Process Mapping

The actual working process is mapped warts and all in order to get all parties to understand and agree on the whole process. This process is then used as a basis for continuous improvement.


A KANBAN board is then built based on the agreed working process and populates with the cards containing the individual work items.


Reporting is provided at two levels.

A “ Power Up” called Blue Cat up is used to provide simple reporting. Configuration of this simple reporting can be taught in circa 1 hour.

More complex reporting is provided via hand of to Power BI which requires Power Bi skills.


A further feature of Trello is An Analytics Power up with automates KANBAN analytics and provides insights in to process bottlenecks and issues which can then be used to prioritize work and process improvements


Cumulative Flow Diagram

The Cumulative Flow Diagram shows the amount of work in each process stage at a given time and can be used to identify emerging bottlenecks and to review process stability.

NAVE Cycle Time

Cycle Time Scatter Plot

The cycle time scatter plot captures the cycle time for each scope in the selected parts of the process and more importantly a trend line on how cycle time is increasing or reducing.

Hybrid Agile Success factors

For hybrid agile to work there are several “Success factors to be considered.

  • Project Management Training and experience
  • Awareness of change impact on people
  • Well developed “soft skills”
  • Attendance at a Hybrid Agile “Super users” course
  • A continuous improvement mindset
  • Enthusiasm

What Does the future Look Like for Hybrid Agile

  • From Teams to Enterprises
  • From individual process to Value Streams
  • From Project to Product Management
  • Team Leadership to Executive Leadership
  • Cross Fertilization between Industries/Geographies

We see Hybrid agile spreading from individual teams and projects to complete enterprises as experience is gained and  the culture and mindsets are adopted.

We also see clients starting to complete value stream mapping across their processes when aligning with Hybrid agile. The KANBAN process also allows the enterprise to model its entire business of completing projects as a process.

To work the executive teams, need to fully engage with hybrid agile concepts and to get their “hands dirty” in order to fully understand the tools. And finally different locations from the same enterprise can share learnings and best practices vis appropriate forums.

Conclusion and next steps.

Hybrid agile delivers measurable project and program business improvements with result in lower costs, reduced duration , less team stress and more satisfied clients

If you are interested in finding out how Hybrid Agile can help your organization, please contact us for a no  commitments initial discussion.

What a Project Engineer Does

What is a Project Engineer and what are their roles and responsibilities?

It is estimated that there are circa between 100,000 and 200,000 Project Engineers (PEs) in the worldwide Oil and Gas industry, so you are or will be part of a very large community. The term Project Engineer (PE) covers a multitude of areas and varying degrees of technical knowledge, project size and responsibilities, all having the common feature of accountability for the delivery of projects or part of a project

Project Engineere Responsibilities

Project Engineers work for Oil & Gas operators, engineering contractors, equipment manufacturing subcontractors and maintenance companies. They have an essential role to play within technical project teams in ensuring that engineering/construction/maintenance projects are completed safely, within budget and in a timely manner.

A Project Engineer may be responsible for managing a project from thousands up to many millions of dollars. They may be part of a project management team responsible for parts of a larger project, or they may be responsible for managing a portfolio of smaller project scopes. The role of the Project Engineer can often be described as that of a liaison between the Project/Contract Manager and those within the technical disciplines relevant to the project. The Project Engineer is also often the primary point of contact for the client.

As a PE, it is standard for you to be responsible for successful delivery, and for managing scope, cost, schedule and risk. The greatest accolade a Project Engineer can receive is a simple two words: “You deliver!”

A Project Engineer Understands Why the Scope is Needed

Many projects run into problems because the scope is either poorly defined, poorly understood, or both. The Project Engineer needs to fully understand the scope and why it is needed so he/she can provide the optimum solution using the resources at his/her disposal. A structured technique for defining, agreeing and maintaining scope alignment is  explained in the “The Position Statement.” See Project Engineer’s Toolkit course.

Generates the Big Picture

The Project Engineers needs to set the direction the team will proceed in and supports team members in reaching the goals.  Sometimes the individual engineering disciplines/subcontractors are so focused on their individual scopes, that they may not appreciate the bigger picture. By taking time and discussing with both internal and external stakeholders, the Project Engineer can build the “big picture”, manage the interfaces, and communicate to the wider team.

Being able to simplify and communicate complex issues and scopes is a vital Project Engineering skill because it allows team members to understand the overall scope, and thus be better able to understand where their contribution fits.

Responsibility for Scope, Schedule, and Costs

In most projects, the Project Engineer is responsible for scope cost and schedule, although this can vary on the specific project.

  • Scope is what we are going to do.
  • Cost is normally the budget of the project.
  • Scheduleis when we are going to do it.

Managing Change

Change is in the nature of projects, be it scope, schedule, cost or other influences. Badly managed change can result in cost and schedule overruns and an unhappy client. However properly managed change ensures that there are no surprises and that changes are agreed before implementation.

On many projects, the Project Engineer is responsible for managing change requests/variations and for submitting them to clients for approval. Some lucky Project Engineers may have a Change Coordinator to assist them with the workload associated with the changes. The job of Change Coordinator is an excellent position for new recruits/graduates as it exposes them to all areas of the project and reinforces the importance of change control from day one.

Poor management of change is a common reason for a “bad” project. Change is integral to all projects and properly identifying and managing change is an important skill for the Project Engineer.

A Project Engineer Coordinates Resources

Coordinates Engineering Resources

The Project Engineer will be responsible for coordinating engineers from various disciplines including Process, Structural, Piping, Instruments, and Electrical, to name but a few. I have specifically used the word “coordinate” because in many projects, the Discipline Engineers report to their discipline leads for work allocation and technical guidance, although their efforts are coordinated by the Project Engineer.

The simplest way to view coordination is that the Project Engineer represents the client’s interests while simultaneously being a customer for the Discipline Engineers.

Coordinates Vendors and Subcontractors

Almost all projects will require the services of subcontractors and vendors.


Subcontractors are suppliers that enter into specific work contracts with the main contractor to work on major projects or for companies that need specific tasks to be completed within a limited period. Companies usually enter into subcontracting arrangements because they do not have the expertise in-house.


Vendors are suppliers that sell identical or similar products or services to different customers as part of their regular operations. Examples include procurement of catalogue parts and components.

Project Engineers are often responsible for coordinating and integrating subcontractor and vendor services into the overall project delivery. Many PEs are employed by subcontractors and vendors responsible for their company’s contribution to the greater overall project.

Typical organisations

Project Managers and Project Engineers can exist at all levels in a project as illustrated below. Defined roles and responsibilities are more important than job titles.

Typical Project Organisation

A Project Engineer Provides Leadership

One of the most important traits of a good Project Engineer is excellent leadership skills. However, do not worry if you do not currently rate yourself as a strong leader since leadership skills can be learned and practised. Most people already have some leadership skills, and in this book we will look at techniques to develop those skills.

Resolution of issues.

In projects, many issues are not black and white and will call for some project support to resolve. The Project Engineer will be able to facilitate resolution of multi-discipline and multi-company issues. Guidance, support, and coaching in resolution will normally be provided by the Project Manager or other more senior Project Engineers.

The key to resolution is to fully define the issues, communicate to all the required people, and work systematically to an agreed upon and documented solution.

Defusing issues

As your experience develops you will be able to anticipate problems and defuse them before they impact the project. To outsiders, some of the most successful Project Engineers seem to be calmly sailing along without any issues, but underneath the surface they are working hard to identify and prevent problems from building up. This should be your aspiration.

Making decisions

Often you have to facilitate a decision to progress a project scope, and you may have to do this based only on partial information. Depending on your project, you may work through an issue with the team, document it, and having the bigger picture, `make a recommendation to be ratified by your manager. All project decisions should be recorded in the project decision register including at a minimum, the decision, date of decision, decision parties, and any key document attachments. Making difficult decisions will develop good judgment; you might not always get it right, but when you don’t, you will certainly learn for the next time.

Client interface

The Project Engineer is normally the direct single point of contact with the client’s representative for the project or part of a project. This will require regular verbal and written communication. Your people management skills will be developed and tested as you work with clients ranging from pleasant, challenging but fair to downright rude. The key is to remain polite and professional at all times since you are the face of your organisation.

Approving Expenditure

As a Project Engineer you will normally be responsible for elements of the budget and for approving expenditure up to a certain authorised level. You will need to be able to challenge the contents of an estimate when required to ensure that both your organisation and your client are getting value for money.


When asked, “What are the three most important aspects of Project Engineering?, my answer is: communication, communication, communication. You cannot over communicate. In the fast-moving pace of a project, miscommunication means errors, schedule slippage, and cost increases.

By good communication, I do not mean endless e-mail trails and turgid texts, but rather simple, concise communication that provides the right information in the right format to the right people. People are busy, so time spent on producing concise and accurate information will get results.

Communication Methods

Less is more

When people are busy and swamped with data, take time to distil your message to the relevant points and actions and send only to the required people.  This allows for more information to be received. Less is indeed more.

Differences Between Project Engineering and Other Technical Disciplines

A Project Engineer will not normally complete the detailed engineering deliverables, but will be responsible for coordinating and managing the efforts of the technical disciplines and other specialists. To do this effectively you will have to develop and enhance your people skills. You will not need to get involved in every last detail and instead will sift out the important items from the “chaotic noise” to assist the team in delivering.

You need to be delivery-focused and able to self-manage. To be able to lead and manage a team, you first have to be able to manage yourself.

Typical Qualifications

There are three main routes for Project Engineer entry:

  • Academic
  • Project Management.
  • Experience-Based.


Although the education and training possessed by Project Engineers varies by field, most hold a degree in engineering, construction management, or business management. Some Project Engineers also choose to earn a bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree in Project Management. There are many excellent Project Engineers who had minimal qualifications but came up through the ranks.

Project engineering/management professional qualifications

Within Project Engineering/Management, there are several International Project Management organisations that are worth considering joining to gain certifications by demonstrating experiences and passing exams. These certifications provide common Project Management language and industry-accepted levels of competency.

Project management organisations include:

  • Project Management Institute                                   pmi.org.
  • Association for Project Management                           apm.org.uk.
  • International Project Management Association           ipma.world.

Your employer may already have corporate membership with one of these organisations.

Personal attributes

Project Engineers need to have to have something more than just intelligence and training. They need to have the right personal attributes, which includes:

  • Good problem-solving skills.
  • Logical structured thinking.
  • Dogmatic
  • Good people skills.
  • Being cool under pressure.
  • And above all, a determination to get the job done.


As you have now seen, Project Engineers do a lot and are normally very busy people. If you like a multifaceted challenge, then Project Engineering may be right for you. Armed with the basic toolkit in this book, you will be better able to face the numerous challenges that are part of a Project Engineer’s daily work life. As your experience develops, you will be able to add additional tools and techniques to your toolkit.

By continuously putting yourself slightly out of your comfort zone, you will develop in Project Engineering/Management skills. Over the years, I have worked with many Discipline Engineers who have made the move into project management. The majority of them like the additional breadth, challenges, and increased satisfaction, and do not wish to return to their disciplines.

The most important attribute for a budding PE is a positive delivery-focused “can do” attitude.

 Some say that “Project Engineers oil the wheels of a project.”

I personally like to think that Project Engineers do ”whatever needs to be done for the project to succeed.”



engineers pointing to work in distance

The Position Statement

How to scope an Issue or Part of a Project

Many projects can become confused and muddled, especially those with urgent scopes, rapidly evolving definitions and little to no control. This adds easily avoidable costs, delays, and stress to the project itself and the project team. The following Position Statement methodology is a proven, structured method of controlling the workscope and coordinating the activities of both the internal team and wider stakeholders

Position Statement Mindmap

Objective of the Position Statement

In my experiences, many urgent and fast-track scopes are typified in long e-mail chains that are distributed to a wide audience in which key points and actions are unclear and buried in the text, and meetings are often too free-flowing with inadequate minutes taken.

The objective of the Position Statement is to provide clear project status that allows efficient and effective coordination of all stakeholders.

Initial Generation of the Position Statement

As the Project Engineer, it is incumbent on you to clarify and maintain the scope definition. Start by collating all the available information relating to the scope, such as e-mails, reports, meeting minutes, discussions with stakeholders, and so on.  Review the input information and generate a draft document of your understanding of the

  • Problem definition.
  • Scope requirements.
  • Schedule
  • Internal and external stakeholders
  • Next steps and actions.

Armed with this first draft, you will then review it with your internal project team. Figure 10.1 shows the iterative process of generation and update.

Position Statement Process

1st Draft Review

You now have an internal baseline document that you can review with the entire internal team, which will provide additional information and clarifications. At the end of this review, your internal team should have achieved consensus on the issues, scope definition, and next actions. The next step is to widen out the consensus of the project team to the external stakeholders.

2nd Draft Review

This step involves reviewing the position statement and scope with external stakeholders, who might include client, subcontractors, and certifying authorities. At the end of this review, you should have gained accurate information on the issue and the proposed scope in a concise format. During face-to-face meetings or conference calls, walk the external stakeholders through the position statement to obtain their input and clarification. At the end of this stage, all the external and internal stakeholders should be on the same page regarding project scope and next actions.

Tip: Remember the team and stakeholders are busy people who do not have time to wade through long e-mail chains and potentially misinterpreted requirements.

Final Document

Further iteration

The position statement should have a date and revision at each issue. For ease and speed of assimilation, I suggest that changes from the previous versions are highlighted in a different colour.

On very urgent and fast-moving scopes, it would not be unreasonable to update the position statement daily, reducing frequency as the scope definition settles down

Benefits of a position statement

I have been using the position statement methodology for years and have coached many Project Engineers on its uses as an effective and time-saving tool. The position statement:

  • Provides a clear unambiguous scope baseline at a point in time.
  • Can be used as the basis of a more detailed scope document.
  • Can be used as the basis for formal change control.
  • Can be revised as scope changes.
  • Assists in managing challenging clients.

Duration to complete position statement

The preparation of a position statement is an investment that will save time and reduce potential confusion, especially from those further from the centre. Typically, once input information has been reviewed, the position statement can be completed within an hour. As Project Engineer, you must perform the information review legwork for the entire team.

Typical sections

Typical sections of a position statement are shown below, although I recommend you modify them to suit your particular scope:

  • Background on the issue.
  • Work completed to-date.
  • Identified solutions.
  • Issues requiring further discussion.
  • Single point contacts.
  • Next steps.

Position Statement Summary

Using a position statement brings all the stakeholders to the same place. It is relatively quick and easy to do, and it reduces stress on the organisation as a whole. Try it with your next scope!

“Sometimes when co-ordinating stakeholders, it feels like you are trying to herd cats.”

Blue and white graphic image of cogs

Time Management

Time Management

We have all seen colleagues, clients and even ourselves juggling meetings, replying to e-mails in meetings, and taking urgent calls. In the world of interconnected project communities, it is easy to be accessible at all times. During your career as a Project Engineer you will often hear:

  • “I never have enough time!”
  • “I am constantly interrupted!”
  • “I have to multitask continuously!”

Sounds familiar…Yes? I agree that as a busy Project Engineer, you will probably never have as much time as you wish, but armed with the tools described in this chapter, you will be able to maximise your effectiveness within your available time.

Time Management Mindmap

Sure, we are busy, and we like to be seemingly indispensable, but stop and think: Are you truly being effective and efficient?

Managing the "Chaos of Inputs"

Chaos of Inputs

One of the key skills to develop as a Project Engineer is effectively managing your time. It is not a case of working harder or longer but working smarter. If you don’t, you will be at risk of failing to deliver and “burnout”.

The inefficiencies of multitasking

Research (Gorlick, 2009) has shown that too much multitasking will actually slow down your cognitive processing. You will be unable to organise your thoughts or filter out unnecessary information. As a result, your efficiency plummets alongside the quality of your work. You are effectively spending your mental energy getting up to speed with an item, only to put it down before you have done any real “work” on it.

Multiplication of effort

As a Project Engineer you will be managing numerous resources. Hence, the better you manage your time, the more comprehensively you can manage and support your teams with a “cascade” improvement effect.

Time Management Techniques

Time Management Methodology

The following section is intended to provide a methodology to allow you to incrementally improve your time management skills. As all the tools in this book, you will use the basic tool and shape it to your own specific requirements. The more you practice it, the better you will get. The following simple steps are suggested as a basis to develop your own system. Practice this religiously for six weeks and you will not go back to your old ways. I promise!

Weekly sort out and de-clutter

If your desk and e-mail files are cluttered, your brain will also be cluttered, and your project team will be less clear and focused. I have seen people proudly boasting that they have a thousand e-mails in their inboxes, and their desks are stacked high with paper. They advise that they are too busy with “real work” to organise themselves. In reality, they are just less effective and efficient.

Allocate regular time

Set aside some time every week, preferably the same time, to declutter and plan your time management. I set aside Friday mornings as there are fewer disturbances. This is one of the most important and effective things to do in your working week.

E-mail triage

Work through all your e-mails in your inbox. I call this “E-mail Triage”. Decide what does not require any action or filing and delete them. Decide what needs done by you or a delegate, and add it to your action list. Finally decide what needs to be filed in your structured project filing system and add it in.

Hard copy triage

Repeat the e-mail triage exercise for your paper documents and working files. There will always many documents you can simply recycle.

Action list

You are now ready to generate your project action list(s). You will have a pile of actions, both electronically and physically:

  • Identify actions that are urgent and important, and group them as priority one.
  • Based on the client and management expectations and demands, prioritise these actions in the order they should be completed.
  • Identify actions you must do yourself, and those that you can delegate to others.
  • Go back to the priority one items and plan some time in your schedule to complete them.
  • Group the delegated items into lists that you will be able to share with the wider members of your team.

What you have now just done is de-cluttered and removed the “noise”. You will be feeling less stressed and have a clearer perspective of what is urgent and important, and when it will be achieved. Your wider team also benefits as you will be able to clearly advise actions and priorities.


Many people continuously juggle activities throughout the day and suffer from multitasking inefficiency. The trick to resolving this issue is batching. Only look at your e-mails twice daily and perform a mini-triage. Do not jump onto each e-mail as it comes into your inbox and feel the need to instantly reply.

If you are dealing with repetitive things like variations/change orders, do them all at the same time since they use the same thought process. Batch all your regular tasks to free up quality time for more value-adding activities.

Weekly Worksheet

Project Engineering/Management can be tough. There will be short durations where 100% effort “sprints” are required. However, your project career is a “marathon,” and you must take care of your prime asset: Yourself.

Most Project Engineers are time-limited and it can be very useful to plan out various aspects of your life and allocate the time each deserves. Set aside time for family, socialising, exercise, hobbies, etc. It is important not to neglect important areas of your life as this will also impact your work performance.

There is an excellent time management template in, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change,” by Steven R. Covey, upon which the following template is based. A download of this template is available at www.cranstoneng.com

Weekly Worksheet

Like de-cluttering, the preparation of the weekly time management worksheet can be practised and fine-tuned to best effect.


Delegation sounds easy but is one of the most challenging skills to develop. Correctly used, it is highly effective in multiplying your effectiveness and freeing up your time.


Being correctly prepared for meetings can be a very efficient use of time, and as a Project Engineer you will attend and chair many meetings. Imagine a series 1% improvement in all your projects meetings and the impact that it would have on overall project and organisation.


Incorrectly used, e-mails will waste an incredible amount of time. It is quite common to receive long e-mails and attachment trails copied to everybody, and in which you have to laboriously wade through to understand the real issues. Whenever possible, I much prefer in-person conversations or online meetings (such as with Skype) with visuals. We are designed for speaking to each other with instant feedback. Once information has been communicated, by all means follow-up with a short e-mail of agreements and actions for the record.

Managing Distractions

There will be many times, especially if working in an open plan office, where there are distractions from other colleagues talking, phones ringing, etc. When you have a task that requires lots of focus, consider working from home or finding a quiet room in the office. If it is not possible to do this, headphones with suitable music can help.

Proactive and Reactive

Proactive activities are planned in advance and are more efficient than reactive activities. Try to plan 70% of your weekly available time and keep the remaining 30% for unplanned reactive activities.

Do not try to plan 100% of your schedule as you will always fail due to the emerging reactive items. At the end of each week look back and see how many of the planned activities that you have completed. There will be times when there is simply more reactive activity, but planning ahead as much as you can will always be best.

Mobile Phones and Social Media

Mobile phones are a mixed blessing. You can be contacted at any time via voice, text, and many other systems. I keep my mobile phone at my desk unless I need to call people into meetings, or allow contact by reception, etc. Answering texts and taking calls in a meeting is just bad manners and raises the question of what value you are adding to the meeting if you are not giving it your 100%.If there is something really urgent, which is rare when you effectively manage your time, someone will come to the meeting room and call you out.

You can get Twitter, Facebook and many others feeds. There is an instant endorphin “fix” in reading that text or looking at Facebook, which is why we feel driven to check these platforms often. The downside is that this is wasting valuable company time. Try to ration your looking and responding to social media to once or twice per day in order to increase your productivity.

Time Management Summary

Practice the above time management principles and you will see continual improvement. More importantly you will feel less pressured and you will be more effective.

 “In Projects you will normally be able to get more resources, and potentially budget but once a date has passed you can never get that time back. Therefore, spend time wisely.” – Ian McKnight