Time management is by far the most important skill any professional can possess. That is even more true for architects and city planners who work on their own. Add to that the ability to communicate with stakeholders, contractors, assistant teams and other third parties – and you will realize that without strict and efficient time management your architectural projects will turn into disasters.
There are hundreds of time management tools on the market and selecting one is a matter of personal preferences. Do what works for you, not for somebody else.
In fact, most tools are very similar. You often need to adopt radial mindset
Time management tools for architects
Project management tools
Industry-specific project management tools created for architects and city planners like PlanMan are great for time management even if they are not labelled as time management tools.
A properly planned, managed, and evaluated project with reasonable milestones and prioritized tasks makes all the difference in the world. Moreover, if your product management tool facilitates efficient client communication and data storage – that could be your largest time-saver.
Trackers, timers and alarms
As a professional you need to track your hours in order to bill your clients properly. Recording your hours manually can be a pain. Using timers like Toggl will help you effectively track your work time no matter what you do. A mobile app that is always with you also comes very handy 4 in-field work.
As you work on your clients’ projects, make sure to take frequent breaks because they boost your productivity. The Pomodoro system is popular – it requires that you take a 5 minutes break after each 25-minute work period. Consider getting a Pomodoro alarm clock (dozens of apps and physical alarms out there).
A lot of apps can be blocking distractions for you during your work time – social media, news sites or anything else you label as a distraction. These are useful not only for the weak-willed, but everyone else too. We often check social media almost instinctively, out of habit. These minutes and lost trains of thought add up to hours of wasted time.
Time management tips for architects and city planners
If you want to improve your time management, tools are not the only thing you need. You need to change your mindset and adopt healthy habits and work practices. Here’s a list of time management tips our architect clients have listed as helpful:
Track ALL time, including preparations and decompression.
Please make sure to record your “non billable” time and all the facilitation work you are doing around actual work. If you haven’t tracked it before – you’d be surprised at how much time you spend preparing for work. That’s where a lot of your productivity sinks.
No matter if you decide to bill your clients for that time you still need to have a clear picture of how much time exactly you spend on the client. A lot of beginner architects are wondering where their time went because they bill their clients only for the “actual” work while in reality they are spending hours before and after those activities.
Prioritize tasks and eliminate wait time
Parts of your project depend on the results of others one way or the other. You need to make sure that time waiting for other deliverables from other teams is minimal. When you have to wait for something – floodgates to procrastination open.
A properly organized to-do-list also helps a lot because you need to prioritize tasks well. All the larger project milestones need to be split into smaller ones, weekly objectives into daily ones, and every day you need to know if you’re on the track or not.
Set realistic deadlines
Make sure you set realistic and objective deadlines that take into account other teams, contractors, and general project limitations. If you are pressed by a tight deadline that you have yourself set in hopes to keep the client, you will experience extra stress. Stress will, surprisingly. contribute to distractions and even slower work.
Do not multi-task
Again, this is a skill that comes with experience. Seasoned architects know that you cannot work on several things at once. One client, one project, one activity at a time.
Of course, nearly everyone is tempted to use inspiration to work on something else – but that only shows bad project planning. It’s okay to adjust your schedule and adjust your weekly plans but once you set your tasks and priorities for the week do not jump on anything else until you’re done.
Delegate, and delegate early
There are many mundane and tedious tasks that are easy to outsource and delegate.
You will find it’s better in the long run to spend several days writing detailed instructions for a freelancer, than to spend the week working on something that kills your drive.
Remember: you are responsible for the project in front of the client, and for how “sexy” all of it is. No one cares about how well you gathered data or sorted columns. If you waste creativity and energy on something auxiliary that no one ever sees or understands – you are losing points.
Find helpers, train them, use their help for mundane work, and spare your creative potential for bigger and better things.