Time Management in Project Management:

In project management, time is a valuable resource that must be managed effectively to ensure successful completion of projects. Project time management is the process of identifying, sequencing, estimating, scheduling, and monitoring tasks and activities required to complete a project within a predefined timeline. Time management in project management involves developing a detailed project schedule that outlines when each task will be started and completed. Various tools and processes help to plan, monitor, and control the use of time within a project.

Objectives of Time Management in Project Management

Time is a critical resource in project management, and effective time management is crucial for project success. Here are the key objectives of project time management:

  • Helps meet project deadlines: A well-managed schedule ensures that tasks and activities are completed on time, helping the team to meet project deadlines.
  • Increases efficiency: By breaking down the project into smaller activities and prioritizing them, team members can focus on one task at a time, leading to increased efficiency.
  • Identifies potential delays: Estimating activity durations and creating a schedule allows project managers to identify any tasks that may take longer than expected and take preventive measures.
  • Enables effective resource allocation: With detailed knowledge of the project schedule, project managers can allocate resources efficiently to ensure that tasks are completed on time.
  • Facilitates communication: A well-managed schedule provides a clear timeline for activities and milestones, promoting effective communication among team members and stakeholders.

Importance of Project Time Management

Project time management is a cornerstone of effective project management for several reasons:

1. Efficiency:

Firstly, efficient time management enables teams to complete their tasks within the pre-defined timeline. This efficiency in execution not only optimizes resource utilization but also prevents waste of effort on unnecessary or redundant tasks.

2. Cost Control:

Secondly, there’s a direct correlation between time management and cost control. Delays often lead to cost overruns, as time and resources are closely intertwined in any project. Therefore, effective project time management helps keep budgets in check.

2. Quality Assurance:

Next, well-managed timelines ensure that the project team has enough time for quality control processes. Rushing towards deadlines could compromise the quality of deliverables, while good time management facilitates thorough testing and quality checks.

3. Stakeholder Satisfaction:

Furthermore, the timely delivery of project milestones and the final output enhances client and stakeholder satisfaction. It establishes the project team’s credibility, fostering trust and paving the way for future collaborations.

4. Risk Management:

Lastly, effective project time management also aids in risk management. Monitoring the schedule regularly allows project managers to identify potential delays or bottlenecks early on and implement mitigating measures.

5. Productivity Enhancement:

In addition to efficiency, another crucial aspect of project time management is its ability to enhance overall team productivity. By appropriately scheduling and allocating tasks, team members can focus on their responsibilities without feeling overwhelmed. It also allows for a smoother transition between tasks, thus reducing downtime and fostering productive work patterns.

6. Stress Reduction:

Effective project time management can significantly alleviate stress within the project team. When there’s a clear understanding of timelines and expectations, team members can better manage their workflows. This clarity can prevent last-minute rushes and reduce burnout, contributing to a healthier and more balanced work environment.

7. Learning and Improvement:

Project time management stands as a powerful tool for continual learning and progress. Despite unexpected obstacles and delays that may occur during any project, efficient time management enables early detection of these hurdles. This early detection is not only crucial for immediate problem-solving but also serves as a learning curve for upcoming projects, thus promoting a culture of constant enhancement. Various educational pathways aid in mastering project time management.

AIMS’ online project management PhD is best suited for academia or high-strategy roles. A Master’s degree in project management refines the ability to manage intricate project schedules and timelines, facilitating timely and budget-bound project deliverance. For those preferring a shorter educational commitment, an online diploma in project management and project management online courses cover the practical application of tools and techniques. PMP training and exam preparation equip you excellently for the exam and a successful project management career.

project time management

Key Characteristics of Effective Time Managers

Effective time managers exhibit several key characteristics that enable them to efficiently manage project timelines:

  • Strong Planning Skills: First and foremost, effective time managers excel at planning. They meticulously plan each phase of the project, carefully defining tasks, estimating their durations, and determining their sequence and dependencies.
  • Prioritization: Next, they are adept at prioritizing tasks based on their importance, urgency, and contribution to project goals. They employ techniques like the Eisenhower Matrix to separate important tasks from urgent ones and prioritize them accordingly.
  • Delegation: Furthermore, successful time managers know the importance of delegation. They understand their team’s skills and capabilities and assign tasks accordingly, thereby ensuring efficient completion of tasks and optimal resource utilization.
  • Flexibility: In addition, they are flexible and able to adapt to changes. They understand that project schedules can change due to unforeseen circumstances and can quickly adjust their plans to accommodate these changes.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Lastly, effective time managers are problem-solvers. They anticipate potential delays and plan for contingencies, thereby reducing the risk of timeline overruns.

Remember, these characteristics are not inherent but can be developed through practice and experience. Consequently, mastering these skills is imperative for successful project time management.

Tools for Project Time Management

To effectively manage time in a project, it is essential to have the right tools and processes in place. It is important to note that different projects may require different tools and processes for time management depending on factors such as project size, complexity, and industry. Project managers must carefully consider these factors and choose the most suitable tools and processes for their projects.

Here are some commonly used tools and processes for project time management:

  • Gantt charts: This visual representation of project tasks, their durations, and dependencies is a popular tool for scheduling and tracking project progress.
  • Critical Path Method (CPM): CPM helps identify the critical path – the sequence of activities that must be completed on time to meet the project deadline.
  • Schedule Network Analysis: This process involves identifying and analyzing the relationships between project activities to determine their impact on the overall project schedule.
  • Resource Leveling: This technique ensures that resources are not overallocated and that tasks are completed within the available resources and time.
  • Timeboxing: In timeboxing, a set amount of time is allocated for a task or activity. This helps increase focus and prioritize tasks.
  • Schedule Compression: This process involves shortening the project schedule without affecting the scope or quality of deliverables, often achieved through techniques like fast-tracking and crashing.

Steps for the Project Time Management:

By following these steps and setting realistic expectations, your project will be more likely to succeed:

STEP-1. Plan from start to finish:

Start by setting a vision for the result and breaking down the project into manageable chunks. Make sure you have an estimated schedule for each component of the project.

STEP-2. Set clear goals and milestones:

When setting project goals, make sure they are realistic and achievable. Use milestones along the way to show progress, so that you can adjust the course as necessary.

STEP-3. Establish a meeting schedule with deadlines established in advance:

Respect those deadlines, stick to them, and communicate regularly with everyone involved in the process.

STEP-4. Involve everyone at every stage in the process, from beginning to end:

For example, you can use meetings or other meeting tools like calendars or email alerts to keep track of who’s working when, who’s doing what, and when things need to get done next (and also when

“Time management in project management involves tracking time spent on tasks, estimating time needed to complete tasks and setting deadlines for completion. Project managers should track all project activities and assign resources as needed. Managers should be able to set realistic timelines for tasks and estimate how long it will take to complete each step within the timeline. This helps to ensure that projects stay on track and are completed on time.”.

Key Note!

Project Time Management Processes:

The Project Management Institute (PMI) identifies six processes that fall under project time management:

  1. Define Activities: Tasks and activities required to deliver the project are defined here. These are the building blocks of the project schedule.
  2. Sequence Activities: Subsequently, dependencies between these activities are identified and they are sequenced accordingly. This helps to establish the order of work and identify any critical paths.
  3. Estimate Activity Durations: In this phase, the time required to complete each task or activity is estimated. This is critical in building a realistic project schedule.
  4. Estimate Activity Resources: Once the durations are estimated, the next step in the project time management process is to estimate the resources needed for each activity. These resources may be human, material, or financial.
  5. Develop Schedule: Based on these estimates, a project schedule is developed that outlines when each task should start and finish.
  6. Control Schedule: Finally, the schedule is monitored and controlled throughout the project’s lifecycle. Any changes to the schedule are managed and communicated to all stakeholders. This ensures that the project remains on track to meet its deadlines.

Process # 1. Define Activities:

The defined activities process in the project time management is a further breakdown of the work package elements of the WBS. It documents the specific activities needed to fulfill the deliverables detailed on the WBS and the project scope statement. The key benefit of time management in the project management process is to break down work packages into activities that provide a basis for estimating, scheduling, executing, monitoring, and controlling the project work.


The following are inputs to the Define Activities process:

  • Scope baseline (deliverables, constraints, and assumptions).
  • Enterprise environmental factors (project management information systems).
  • Organizational process assets (existing guidelines and policies, lessons learned knowledge base).


The tools and techniques of the Define Activities process are as follows:

  • Decomposition involves breaking the work packages into smaller, more manageable units of work called activities.
  • These are not deliverables but the individual units of work that must be completed to fulfill the deliverables listed in the WBS.
  • Time management in project management activities will help in later planning processes to define estimates and create the project schedule.
  • Rolling wave planning is an iterative planning technique in which the work to be accomplished in the near term is planned in detail, while the work in the future is planned at a higher level.
  • It is a form of progressive elaboration. Therefore, work can exist at various levels of detail depending on where it is in the project life cycle.
  • During early strategic planning, when information is less defined, work packages may be decomposed to the known level of detail.
  • As more is known about the upcoming events in the near term, work packages can be decomposed into activities.

Expert judgment, in the form of project team members with prior experience developing project scope statements and WBSs, can help you define activities.

time management in project management


Define Activities in project time management has three outputs:

  • Activity list,
  • Activity attributes, and,
  • Milestone list.

A crucial outcome of the Define Activities process is generating a comprehensive activity list. This list ought to encapsulate all the planned activities for the project, providing a detailed scope of work description for each activity. Additionally, it must contain an identifier, such as a code or number, to clarify the nature of the work and its completion method for team members. Using transitional words, this process ensures streamlined project time management and fosters a clear understanding of project tasks among team members.


The characteristics of project activities extend through activity attributes, enhancing the detail within the activity list. Inevitably, these attributes change throughout the project’s lifespan as the availability of information increases. Initially, activity attributes often encompass elements such as the activity ID, the activity name, and the associated WBS identification code. However, as the project advances and evolves through various planning processes, additional details may be included. These can consist of processing and succeeding activities, logical relationships, leads and lags, requisites for resources, and any constraints or assumptions tied to the activity. Importantly, this process fosters dynamic project time management, adapting to the project’s shifting needs and circumstances.


In the realm of project time management, milestones hold significant importance. They usually symbolize the successful attainment of major project deliverables or noteworthy events within the project’s timeline. For instance, the approval and validation of the project charter might be viewed as a milestone. To effectively manage time in project management, it’s essential to document these accomplishments in a milestone list, specifying whether each milestone is obligatory or optional. Despite their resemblance to standard schedule activities in terms of structure and attributes, milestones carry zero duration. This is because they signify a specific point in time rather than a period of activity.

Process # 2. Sequence Activities:

Now that you’ve delineated the activities, it’s time to logically arrange them, recognizing any interdependencies among them. The project time management process involves sequencing activities, and utilizing a variety of inputs, tools, and techniques. This essential step primarily yields project schedule network diagrams. It’s worth noting that these diagrams can also have a consequential link to project cost management.


  • Activity List.
  • Activity Attributes.
  • Milestone List, and,
  • Project Scope Statement.

You’ve already seen all the inputs to this process. They are activity lists, activity attributes, milestone lists, project scope statements, and organizational process assets. We’ll look at several new tools and techniques next.


Sequence Activities in project time management have three tools and techniques, all of which are new to you:

  • Dependency determination.
  • Precedence diagramming method (PDM).
  • Applying leads and lags.

Dependencies are relationships between the activities in which one activity is dependent on another to complete an action, or perhaps an activity is dependent on another to start an action before it can proceed.


  • You’re going to paint your house, but unfortunately, it’s fallen into a little disrepair.
  • The old paint is peeling and chipping and will need to be scraped before a coat of primer can be sprayed on the house.
  • After the primer dries, the painting can commence.

The Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) is a powerful tool in the realm of project time management. It is a visual representation technique that aids in the understanding of task interdependencies and aids in sequencing activities in a project. Each task is represented as a node and is connected with arrows to indicate the direction and sequence of work. The PDM also supports four types of dependencies:

  • Finish-to-Start (FS),
  • Start-to-Start (SS),
  • Finish-to-Finish (FF), and
  • Start-to-Finish (SF).

They provide a comprehensive view of the project timeline.


Leads and Lags are another fundamental concept in project time management. They are utilized to fine-tune the project schedule, allowing flexibility in the sequence of activities. A Lead accelerates the successor activity, enabling it to start before its predecessor is complete. Consider it like a head start in a relay race. Conversely, a Lag delays the initiation of the successor activity. It represents a waiting period or a time cushion between activities, ensuring that all necessary preconditions are met before the next activity begins. Using Leads and Lags effectively can optimize the project schedule and ensure smoother execution.

“In this example, the primer activity depends on the scraping. You can’t prime the house before scraping off the peeling paint. The painting activity depends on the primer activity in the same way. You really shouldn’t start painting until the primer has dried.”.

Key Note!

project time

Process # 3. Estimate Activity Durations:

It is a critical process in project time management, where the project manager estimates the number of work periods needed to complete individual activities.


Essential inputs for this process include the activity list, activity attributes, resource calendars, and project scope statement.


The primary tools and techniques involve expert judgment, analogous and parametric estimating, and three-point estimates based on PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique).


Expected outputs are duration estimates and project document updates.

Process # 4. Estimate Activity Resources:

It identifies the type and quantity of resources required for each activity.


The activity list, resource calendars, and risk register stand as primary inputs.


Techniques used can include expert judgment, alternatives analysis, and project management software, resulting in a resource requirement breakdown and updates to the activity list and resource breakdown structure.

Process # 5. Develop Schedule:

This process synthesizes all schedule-related information into a timeline with planned dates for completing project activities.


Inputs include activity sequence, duration estimates, resource calendars, and project scope statements.


Schedule network analysis, critical path method, and schedule compression are some techniques employed here.


The outcome of this process is a project schedule that maps out key milestones and a project calendar.

Process # 6. Control Schedule:

It refers to monitoring project status to update project progress and manage changes to the schedule baseline.


Project management plan, project schedule, and work performance data are inputs for this process.


Here, tools and methods like schedule comparison bar charts, performance reviews, and variance analysis are used to ensure the project stays on track.


Change requests, project management plan updates, and project document updates are the usual outputs.


Successful project time management is a cornerstone of any efficiently run project. It calls for an in-depth understanding of a series of processes, including defining activities, sequencing them, estimating activity durations and resources, developing, and controlling the schedule. By employing various tools and techniques at each stage, managers can estimate the project timeline more accurately and adjust when required. Ultimately, effective project time management not only keeps the project on track but also contributes significantly to its overall success.

As we continue to embrace technology, the use of project time management tools will undoubtedly become even more integral to project management. These tools, providing real-time updates and streamlining communication, will further enhance the ability to manage time in project management effectively.