Have you ever had a day start like this? You wake up groggy and tired, and muddle through your morning routine before heading off to face the day. There are some notes waiting for you at your office, but your phone rings and your emails start dinging you before you can read them. So you start to tackle the item you were phoned about – and you are interrupted with a call from your child’s school that she forgot to return her permission slip for the field trip that day. They are leaving in 30 minutes and she won’t be able to go without the note. So you head to the car and …

You can fill in what comes next, because I’m sure that you have had days like that – just as I have. There are certainly unscheduled interruptions which come our way sometimes, but there are also practices which we can put in place to override the affect of those. Some of these practices fall under the category of “Project Management.”

If you have ever hired a contractor to fix up your house, add an extension or knock down your conservatory, then they will likely have approached the matter first with some ‘project management’. What this means, is that they will have written a plan for the best way to utilize the time they’ve been given and their resources in order to complete the work.

This will take into account many different factors. For instance, they might choose to do the weather dependent parts of the job first. Why? Because that way, if it rains, they can bring forward the non-weather dependent work so that the time isn’t wasted. Meanwhile, they might choose to do jobs later that require certain materials they won’t get until later. In short, project management means designing the most efficient use of time in order to get work completed most quickly and with the least amount of delays.

Applying This to Your Work

That’s project management as it applies to construction and renovation, but it’s also worth considering that a similar approach can be used when deciding on how best to complete tasks that you have set for yourself in the office. Here we will look at how the principles of project management can apply in an office setting when working independently.

Dependent Work

As with building a conservatory, which is dependent on sunshine, some aspects of your work may be dependent on external factors – like the presence of a colleague or the availability of a certain system. By deciding to complete this work as early as possible, you can finish it as soon as this resource becomes available so that you aren’t let down when you come to do it later.


Multitasking generally isn’t effective, as the human brain can’t actually focus on more than one thing at a time. That said, some jobs are going to involve long periods of thumb twiddling  – such as calling a service that is likely to put you on hold. You can maximize those times by editing video or converting files. Likewise you might be able to use the phone while doing something menial like data entry.

In these situations, it’s a good idea to set aside tasks that are smaller and can be done easily

Leaving Some Time

In business, the saying goes that you should ‘under promise and over deliver’. This is true as well when it comes for planning your own work schedule – occasionally there’s always the chance that things won’t go as planned so it’s a very good idea to set aside some time at the end to deal with things which have cropped up.

When you “under promise” yourself as to what you can accomplish, then the interruptions and inconveniences won’t be as catastrophic. In fact, most of the time, when you mange well, you will “over deliver.”