ETP (Ireland) Ltd: Structured Programme and Project Management

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Do you want to train all your staff for less than 5,000 euro?

4 March 2015

Would you be interested in training all of your staff in Project Management and Time Management for just € 4,950? It’s possible with ETP’s subscription service. During the recession, to help our clients in whatever way we could, we introduced this service. The way it worked was that for a single annual fee of € 4,950, an organisation could send as many people as it liked on any of our public courses over a 12 month period. There were no catches, no wait listing or limits of any kind. (We also offered discounts for registered charities – so if that’s you, just contact us to discuss this.) The service proved immensely popular and as a result many organisations availed of it. Since then many have renewed these subscriptions year after year, with the ETP subscription becoming a permanent feature of many of these organisations’ training budgets. The subscription covers both our legendary "How to Run Successful Projects" workshop and "The Power of Doing Less" Time Management course (contact us for more details on these courses). Given its popularity and even though the recession appears to be at an end, we have decided to continue the subscription service. You can see our public training course schedule here on our website. (Depending on the take-up of this offer and in order to keep class sizes manageable, we may add more Dublin dates.) You can see what other people have said about our training also here on the testimonial section of our website. If you would like to avail of this offer or need further information, just contact our office either on email (support@etpint.com) or by phone (045 523959).

Multitasking is disastrous for productivity so why does everybody do it?

6 June 2017

I’ve consulted with more than 500 companies and organizations since I started my company, ETP (www.etpint.com) in 1992. I can’t think of one of them that doesn’t engage in multitasking i.e. where a pool of people is spread across and works on a series of projects / activities (‘things’).

Generally then, every person multitasks i.e. spends time on more than one thing. And I’m not talking about just two or three things. It’s much more likely to be 7-10 things. I’ve seen people multitasking across twenty things.

But multitasking is catastrophic for productivity as the following simple example shows.

Let’s say I’m running a project. The project consists of a number of jobs that have to be done. Let’s say one of those jobs is estimated to be 10 person-days (PD) work. Charlie’s assigned to do it and Charlie is not multitasking – he’s available full-time, 5 days per week (dpw). Then the job will take two weeks.

Now suppose Charlie is multitasking and he’s only available 1 dpw. Then the job will take ten weeks.

But there’s more.

There is now the additional time involved in Charlie putting the 10 PD job down, picking it up again a week later and getting his head back around it again, back to where it was when he put it down. (There isn’t a lot of research in this area but google on ‘the cost of task switching’ for some representative figures.) Based on this research, an estimate of 15 minutes to get his head back to where it was wouldn’t be unreasonable. So that’s an additional 10 [weeks] x 15 minutes that has to be added on to the initial 10 PD.

And that’s not all. There’s another catch. The 1 dpw that Charlie is giving to our project is – most likely – not going to be one full day, as in, for example, Monday. It’s much more likely to be something like this: a couple of hours on Monday, half a day on Tuesday, nothing at all on Wednesday, an hour for a meeting on Thursday and then a bit of a flurry on Friday to hit some mini-deadline or milestone. So instead of the initial 10 put-down-pick-ups, we’re much more likely to have 4-5 put-down-pick-ups per week. Over 10 weeks, that’s 40-50 put-down-pick-ups. At 15 minutes per put-down-pick-up, that’s 10 – 12½ person-hours added on to the initial 10 PD – so this is very non-trivial.

But let’s pretend this doesn’t happen – if only because we’re not quite sure how to measure it – though clearly it does. The difference between Charlie working 5 dpw (not multitasking) and Charlie working 1 dpw (multitasking) doesn’t seem that serious. On a big project you might not even notice it. Hey, on a small project, with Charlie sitting beside you or just over the partition, you’d see him on his computer, making phone calls, going to meetings, you might think ‘Charlie’s doing my stuff’. Yet, this one small thing – the difference between 5 dpw (not multitasking) and 1 dpw (multitasking) – can potentially cause an 8 week delay on this project [the difference between 2 weeks and 10 weeks].

And remember this is just one job in your project. Is this happening on all jobs that Charlie is doing on your project? Of course it is. And is this happening on other jobs on your project? Most likely it is, since most everybody is multitasking.

The resulting stretching / delay on your project can be colossal.

So why does everybody do it?

Is it because nobody has thought about the problem? Or people think there’s no alternative? Or what?

Because of course there is an alternative. And it’s this:

1. Prioritize the list of projects that have to be done.

2. Flood the most important project with people who are not multitasking (or who are doing as little multitasking as humanly possible) and aim to get the project done as quickly as possible.

3. Working down the list, do this for the following projects until you run out of people.

4. Don’t start the remaining projects until people become available from projects as they complete. The remaining projects will still be done quicker than if you had been multitasking.

5. Do this and you’ll be amazed at the quantum leap in productivity you’ll achieve.

 

'I had a productive year last year'

8 July 2015

In something of an understatement, Fergus explains how he wrote three books last year, all of which now have been published.  

The new books are:

You'll find them all on Amazon.  

 

Top Ten Tips For Doing Less

2 August 2013

 Top Ten Tips For Doing Less

 

We’re all busier than ever before. We are busy in a way that our parents or grandparents never were. Work now intrudes into our personal lives in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
If that wasn’t bad enough, most of this increased workload is not by choice. Far from it. These days this workload comes with an implied threat that if we don’t do it, then very bad things – redundancy, outsourcing, downsizing, offshoring - will happen. Work seems to be consuming our lives, so much so that we are losing sight of what life is really about, of the things that really matter to us, whatever those might be – family, children, loved ones, hobbies, ambitions, hopes, dreams.
But there is a route out of all this.
And you have the power to take that route.
All you have to do is one simple thing.
You need to do less.
So here are the top ten tips for doing exactly that.

 

1. Know what you want. If you’re going to do less of some things, then you have to know what those things are. To put it another way, you need to know what you want to do more of – the things that matter to you.
2. Figure our your ideal day. The absolutely best way to do decide what matters to you is to figure out how you’d like to spend your time – an ideal day, an ideal week, an ideal year. (Notice that even if what you want is ‘to be as rich as Croesus’ you’ll still have to figure out how you’re going to fill your days.) The book has checklists.
3. Get buy-in. Once you’ve figured out what matters you’re probably going to have to agree it with someone else. In work this is most likely your boss. In your personal life it’s people like wives, husbands, partners, children, girlfriends, boyfriends etc. Go do that.
4. Do what matters. Now just start doing more of the things that matter and (literally) not doing the rest.
5. Learn to say ‘no’ nicely. To not do the rest, you’re going to have to learn to say ‘no’ nicely. (The book has at least forty ways of doing that.)
6. Learn to prioritise. Prioritising is looking at a list and deciding ‘if I could only do one thing what would it be?’ That becomes your #1 priority. Then look at the remaining list and ask the question again. Repeat this process until the list is prioritised.
7. Test what you think is important. Maybe you think that everything you do (in work, for example) is incredibly important and really matters. Test this. Don’t do the least important thing and see what happens. If the sky doesn’t fall then it doesn’t matter and you shouldn’t do it from now on.
8. Go to less meetings / write less reports. Meetings and reports are particularly promising contenders for the treatment in tip 7.
9. Take an hour to just ‘be’. Take an hour – just one hour - in the week to just ‘be’. To think about work or about life and what you’re doing with yours.
10. Pass it on. Pass these tips on to one other person whom you think could do with them.

'The Power of Doing Less' is published

24 July 2013

Fergus' new book, 'The Power of Doing Less: Why Time Management Courses Don't Work and How to Spend Your Precious Life on the Things That Really Matter' is published on August 16.  

 

If you're a person who's got too much to do and not enough time to do it - whether in work or outside of it - then this book will quite literally transform your life.  

 

ETP runs a 10-week online course based on the book.  You can find out more about the course here www.etpint.com/courses/the_power_of_doing_less_-_online_course/.

 

To mark the publication of the book we are offering four free places on the course to your organisation.  (Further places can be booked at just EUR 49 / GBP 39 / USD 59.)  To book your free places, simply email info@etpint.com with a title line 'The Power of Doing Less'.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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