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Six Ways to Keep a Project on Schedule

Theresa Farrell | July 16, 2019

These days when you leave your office, you probably take your work with you. Even at home, we continue to check work email, catch up on industry news, or join the latest conversation in the work group chat. With overwhelming schedules, it’s hard to accomplish everything on your to-do list in a single work day and it’s incredibly easy to let it edge into your everyday life.

Concentrating on time management can keep you on schedule at work and allow you to relax more in your free time. By following these tips on time management, you can keep your project on schedule and find a healthy work/life balance at the same time.

Set Goals

First, figure out what you are trying to accomplish. What is most important? When is each portion of a project due? Then, create a schedule with this information. Effective time management requires you to set measurable goals with reasonable time frames. Goals and deadlines help to prioritize and provide you with the ability to measure progress. 

Goal Setting Tips

Create shorter tasks with shorter time limits. This can help you to better control the project and monitor progress.
Remember to be realistic when setting goals. Optimism is good in general, but it can lead to an inaccurate project plan. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Don’t count overtime hours into the schedule. Use it as a contingency. No plan is ever going to go perfectly, so if you set yourself up with unrealistic goals and no contingencies, you will most likely miss deadlines.

Stay Organized

Once you’ve created a prioritized list with due dates, you need to remember to keep track of your progress. To do so, you will need to devise an organization strategy. You’ll also need to set up a way to give and receive feedback.

Goals and progress can be tracked through project management software, task managers, a OneNote notebook, Outlook reminders or any other method you think will work for you. The important thing is to make sure you and your team are actively using your plan and keeping it updated. There’s no point creating a project schedule if you never check it and the information isn’t current.

Track Progress

Use your schedule and feedback information to create unbiased metrics with actionable data. You can use your organization tracker of choice to pull metrics to see if dates and goals are being met and which teams are on schedule or behind. You can track if a forecast was reasonable and how a missed deadline affects other portions of the project going forward.

Metrics can help you re-evaluate your proposed timelines. They can show you which aspects of a project are working and help you to evaluate the effectiveness of how tasks are being done. Use metrics correctly and they can accurately show the progress you are making and help you make better project choices moving forward. They are another important aspect to keeping your project on schedule.

Communicate with Stakeholders

It’s also important to make sure that everyone involved in the project is on the same track. Send a newsletter or weekly status report to the team to keep everyone updated as to where you are with your goals. This is a great time to use those metrics to provide a concrete understanding of what you’ve accomplished and what still needs to be done. It helps to see how all the moving parts are working together.

Newsletters can be used to encourage employees who have done good work or motivate team members who may be behind. In general, employees who are able to see the whole picture will be more invested in the success of their team.

Delegate

Busy doesn’t necessarily mean productive. Make sure each team member is working on what they can accomplish best. You can get more done in less time if you have the right people on a task. Delegating increases efficiency and can help you meet your goals.

If you constantly find yourself saying, “There’s just not enough time,” you might have to admit that you can’t do it all. Whether it’s asking a co-worker for help, working with another team, or hiring a vendor, someone else may be better able to do the work. 

Always Adapt

You’ve got your structured goals and your metrics. Your team is in the know and feels comfortable providing feedback. Now use all this knowledge to make sure that what you are doing is working! Adjust and adapt to changing circumstances. There will always be challenges, but if you are organized and aware, you can still accomplish your project on time.


Keeping your project on schedule isn’t easy, but if you follow these tips you are setting yourself up for success. Maybe you’ll even be able to enjoy some downtime without checking up on work – and still meet your goals.

If you need help tracking metrics, preparing status reports or creating project newsletters, don’t forget you can always delegate to IPS. Our program management services can help with all that and more.

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Theresa Farrell

Theresa Farrell

Theresa joined IP Services nearly a decade ago after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Finance. She previously worked on both the Fraud Prevention and Privacy & Compliance teams. For the past five years, she has worked in Program Management as a Program Support Specialist which includes event planning, metrics reporting, and communication management.