Efficient time management in a project is crucial to its success. However, according to a 2021 PMI survey, still only 55% of projects get accomplished on time. Most often, Project Managers face problems due to unrealistic schedules, lack of flexibility or inappropriate tools. After all, time management is about planning, monitoring as well as controlling project time, while the Project Manager is responsible for setting goals and establishing priorities to ensure tasks are completed on schedule.

Time management in project – table of contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. What is time management in a project?
  3. Time management problems in the project
  4. Project time management methods
  5. Pareto method
  6. ABC method
  7. Eisenhower method
  8. Summary


Projects need to get finished within a certain timeframe, according to a set schedule, in order not to incur losses and pose a threat to the organization. Moving deadlines generates additional costs, affects other tasks in the company and leads to a buildup of tasks and a rapid increase in project complexity. So how to get down well to time management in a project already at the planning stage?

What is time management in a project?

Time management in a project is all about:

  • planning,
  • monitoring, and
  • ongoing monitoring of the timing of individual tasks and sub-goals.

The Project Manager should set goals and establish priorities to ensure that the project stays on schedule. To this end, the Project Manager should carefully plan each stage of the project, taking into account the time needed for each activity and the most likely obstacles to their completion.

Time management problems in the project

The most common time management problems in a project are:

  1. Unrealistic schedules – especially when working with a new team or in a high-risk field, creating an accurate schedule and setting realistic milestones requires experience and is very difficult; therefore, it is common to create schedules during project planning that are impossible to execute in the allotted time.
  2. Lack of flexibility – Lack of flexibility is a time frame that is set too tightly, lack of time provided for the implementation of new team members, or lack of a contingency plan for downtime due to a lack of raw materials or expected market interest.
  3. Inadequate tools – Project managers often apply inadequate time management tools, leading to errors in estimating task durations and dependencies.

Methods of time management in the project

To avoid these problems or reduce the associated risk of project failure, the Project Manager should take a close look at the project’s time management methods and tools: the Pareto method, ABC, and the Eisenhower method.

Pareto method

The Italian scientist Vilfredo Pareto grew peas in his garden. In doing so, he noticed that as much as 80% of pea seeds are found in 20% of the pods. Since he was mainly concerned with economics, he soon found that this principle also applied to other areas of life. For example, in his time 80% of the land in Italy belonged to 20% of the population.

It soon became clear that the application of the Pareto method is really wide, especially in the business area. It helps, among other things, to identify:

  • The most important tasks to perform in the project, as well as
  • The type of tasks that most often cause delays,
  • The most common causes of delays, regardless of the type of task.

The Pareto method is based on the assumption that 20% of activities produce 80% of effects. In practice, this means that to avoid delays Project Manager should focus on:

  • Identifying the top 20% of tasks in the project and ensuring that they are done first,
  • Detecting the tasks causing delays and understanding their cause,
  • Defining the 20% most common causes of delays and work to eliminate them.

The Pareto method gets often visualized using a Pareto diagram. It combines a bar diagram with a line diagram, where:

  • On the X-axis, for example, the causes of delays are marked, arranged in order from the most common,
  • On the Y-axis is the number of their occurrences and the percentage of the total number of delays,
  • The line graph makes it easy to identify which causes of delay fall into the most important top twenty percent.
time management

ABC method

The ABC method involves labeling tasks according to their importance – A, B and C classes. Class tasks:

  • A – are the most important and require the most attention,
  • B – are important, but less urgent,
  • C – are irrelevant and can be postponed.

This allows the Project Manager to focus on the most important tasks and not waste time concentrating on the less important ones.

The ABC method is simple to apply and easy to understand. It’s particularly handy in projects with plenty of tasks that have similar importance.

Eisenhower method

The Eisenhower method, also known as the Eisenhower matrix, is perhaps the most widely used tool for prioritizing tasks, goals and even entire projects. The method involves dividing tasks into urgent and non-urgent, important and unimportant, and then focusing on those that are both urgent and important.

It is usually presented with two intersecting lines dividing the sheet into quarters.



IMPORTANT To be done right away To be scheduled soon
INVALID To be delegated or performed as time permits To be rejected

The Project Manager should figure out whether the tasks are urgent and important, only urgent only important, or neither urgent nor important at all. This way, one can focus on the most important tasks and not waste time on those that bring little to the project.

In order to effectively use the Eisenhower matrix, you need to regularly update the status of the tasks placed in it. This is because often a task jumps to the category of the most urgent ones overnight.


Time management in a project affects the quality and success of the project, so the Project Manager should know and use tools such as the Pareto method, the ABC method and the Eisenhower method, and keep the status of all tasks in the project updated. To do this, he should constantly communicate with all parties involved and adjust the schedule to accommodate changes that may occur.

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Time management in project | #43 Getting started with project management caroline becker avatar 1background

Author: Caroline Becker

As a Project Manager, Caroline is an expert in finding new methods to design the best workflows and optimize processes. Her organizational skills and ability to work under time pressure make her the best person to turn complicated projects into reality.

Getting started with project management:

  1. What is a project?
  2. What is project management?
  3. How to manage projects?
  4. Project management methods
  5. Types of projects
  6. 4 examples of projects
  7. Prioritization of projects
  8. Areas of project activity
  9. Definition of success in project management
  10. Why use project management software?
  11. How to choose the best project management software?
  12. Overview of project management software
  13. Project life cycle
  14. What is the project vision for?
  15. Project goal. What is it and how to define it well?
  16. Project initiation phase - what to pay attention to?
  17. The domain of planning in project management
  18. What is a project schedule and what is it for?
  19. How to use milestones in a project?
  20. Project execution
  21. How to prepare a successful project contingency plan?
  22. Importance of project closure
  23. Project failure. 5 reasons why projects fail
  24. 4Ps of management: project, product, program and portfolio
  25. Most important tasks and responsibilities of the Project Manager
  26. Most useful project manager skills
  27. How to become a project manager?
  28. 5 books every project manager should read
  29. How to set up a project team?
  30. Work breakdown structure - how to delegate work in a project?
  31. How to lead a team during hybrid work?
  32. Challenges project managers face when working with a team
  33. Types of project meetings
  34. Project monitoring. What parameters to watch?
  35. How to write a compelling
  36. How to define the scope of a project and avoid scope creep?
  37. Feasibility study – can we implement this project?
  38. Risk analysis in projects and tools to facilitate it
  39. How to create a project charter?
  40. What is a stakeholder register?
  41. Gantt chart in project management planning
  42. How to create a project budget?
  43. Time management in project
  44. How to create a project risk register?
  45. Project risk management strategies
  46. Project marketing
  47. Sources and areas of change in the project
  48. Project management change models
  49. What's after Agile? Methods in project management