Five ways to save time on driving

For many busy project managers one of the biggest time-wasters is driving.  I personally probably spend an hour or two per day driving, which is a large proportion of my time.  It’s a difficult one to do much about, but there are a few tactics I’ve developed over the years, and here are my top five…


First is combine trips if you can – do a round trip visiting several people in the same area.  If you have a map with all of your customers on there it may help you to think about who is near to whom (you can do this with google maps if you don’t want to have a big map on your wall).

Second is to use google maps traffic view on your phone so that you’re a step ahead of traffic jams – there’s nothing worse than getting stuck on the freeway and there isn’t an exit for miles.

Third is to park up and do some work on your laptop until the traffic clears – if you have the kind of job where there are quite big chunks that you can do on your laptop then you have to do them some time, you may as well sit in a café or even in the sunshine and get some work done.  It might even be a better working environment than your office!  So have your laptop in the car at all times, fully charged up, and maybe keep some jobs in the pipeline as fill in work for when you are stranded somewhere.

Fourth is to use talking books or record things from the radio to listen to as you drive, so the time isn’t wasted.  I guess they should really be educational stuff, but on the other hand driving is such a pain that maybe you DESERVE to have something exciting or fun to listen to at least some of the time.

The fifth way that I make use of my driving time is catching up on phone calls.  If it’s legal and safe you can use hands free to make calls – only ones that don’t require reading or writing things down of course – and I have a list of calls which are not particularly time dependent and which are likely to be long, and I make these from my car when I’m on a boring bit of road of when I’m stuck in traffic.  Again, an hour of phone calls made from my car saves me an hour a week of prime time in my office or with my family.

So those are my thoughts on driving:  joining visits together, google traffic, parking up till it clears, talking books and phone calls – are there any changes you can make in order to take advantage of all of those?


What exactly is a PID?

PIDS are the latest thing. Everyone’s got one. Have you?

PID stands for “Project Initiation Document” – it’s a PRINCE2 term originally, though now it’s used by everyone.

But what exactly is a PID?   What should be in one?

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time management traps and how to avoid them

The top Time Management mistakes made by Project Managers

Learn useful online project management tips with our regular blog – this post is about “The top Time Management mistakes made by Project Managers”:


These my top 7 pitfalls with tips on how to avoid them.  Time Management is important for everyone, but Project Managers are probably shorter of time than most professionals because by definition they have lots of deadlines and one big overall one.  Any time saved will make a difference!

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50 Shades of Project Management

I don’t think you’ll have seen anything quite like this before.  It’s a bit of fun!

50 Shades of Project Management

Sally had an appointment to interview Roger Prodger, the famous project manager. “I hope he’s my type”, she giggled to her friend Jenny, though deep down she expected him to be boring.

“What IS your type?”, asked Jenny.

“Well, I always insist on a PID” Sally replied.

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Five tips for defining project scope


How often have you been involved in a project that has ‘evolved’? A project that has become more intricate and involved as it unfolds, encompassing ever more people, a spiralling budget, and with an end date which seems to recede further the closer you get to it. It looks like Darwin was wrong – evolution isn’t always a force for improvement.

So how can we stop a project going the same way as the dinosaurs?

The success (or otherwise) of a project depends on many things, but chief amongst a myriad of factors surely has to be the accuracy of defining the scope of the project in the first place. How are we going to get anything achieved in a timely, structured fashion, let alone measure the success of outcomes, if we launch ourselves into the early stages without defining firm parameters?

And yet it’s astonishing how frequently this basic step is overlooked in the rush to find a solution and often, it seems to onlookers, instigate change ‘for the sake of it’. It’s really not a great way to win hearts and minds.

So to help you set firm ground rules on the scope of the project at the outset, here are five quick rules to remember when establishing the scope of a project.

1. Understand the problem
Take time to properly explore the problems and causes which lie behind the need for the project to be instigated. So often, early stages need to be revisited because someone saw a quick solution and rushed to implement it, only for it to emerge further down the line that in fact this answer only tackled the tip of the iceberg.

2. Dedicate enough time to this
Some methodologies recommend dedicating as much as 15 per cent of the total project schedule to this activity. Get all the relevant stakeholders involved in this early stage, and get them to focus on all the implications. Some may seem peripheral, but you’ll be surprised how it can reveal the bigger picture and avoid problems further down the line.

3. Start small
Try to build into the project a way to deliver a small element of the project in a useful format to a sample of the people who will be affected – and gauge their reactions.

4. Embrace conflict
Yes, it can be painful, and some people involved in the project will do almost anything to avoid it. But it can actually be a very good thing, as consensus on project scope is often cultivated in that same environment. The first step is to listen to and facilitate open, direct and honest communication. It’s useful to have some voting methods up your sleeve in case a little help is needed to edge towards a democratic agreement!

5. Think like the customer
It sounds obvious, but the most important stakeholder is probably the customer. They may not always be right. But they should probably be given a louder voice, right from the start. Try to avoid the tunnel vision of only focussing on internal stakeholders and their needs.

In essence, then, problems can (and do) develop at any point in the project’s lifecycle, but identifying them earlier is universally better. Project evolution doesn’t have to come out of the blue – like the dinosaurs’ meteorite! – if time is dedicated at the start to actually understanding and defining the scope of what you’re trying to achieve.

To learn more about our project manager courses online, click here. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a tweet @PracticalPs.