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Time Machine: Tips for Harnessing Time to Ensure Success in your eLearning Projects

August 11, 2011

Alarm ClockTime: it marches relentlessly on – we can’t stop it, change it or rewind it (yet!). We squander it on the wrong things, complain when it goes too slowly and when it goes too fast. In this posting I’ll share three tips for making the most of the time you have, so you can maximise the success of your elearning projects.

There is a pub that I often walk past, which for years had a fairly bad reputation. It was not a place you’d choose to drink in unless you were a local. Now I don’t know whether it was taken over by new owners or the current publican decided to change its image, but 12 months ago I started to see the landlady outside every morning, rain or shine, working on the exterior of the pub.

She meticulously filled in holes in the plaster, painstakingly sanded down the woodwork and vigorously wire brushed all of the ironwork. The pub sign was renewed, a smart new brass brewer’s plaque added next to the entrance and everything given a new coat of paint. Fitting this additional work in around running a busy pub meant it took her several months. She took great care and attention with the work and now the pub looks as smart as a new pin. This got me thinking about time and its importance in elearning projects and projects in general.


Now that landlady is as time-poor as any of us, probably more so, working longer hours than most, but she made the time to do a good job. If you added up the hours she actually spent on the task it would probably only be a week or two, however she spread the work out and gave herself time to do the job well.

I would argue that time is the single most important ingredient in any successful project – more important even than budget. Here are some time management tips to try on your next elearning project:

  • Project planning and reflection time

Plan the project tasks well in advance. Get started on the initial design ideas as soon as you can and allow some reflection time. My best ideas often occur once I’ve immersed myself in the course material and have allowed it to ‘simmer’ in the back of my mind for a few days. Give yourself time to think and come up with the ‘killer’ idea that will save you time and effort in the long run.

  • Be realistic

Be realistic about how long things will take. The concept of rapid elearning has led to some people having unrealistic expectations about how long elearning content takes to produce. Effective elearning content can be produced quickly by expert designer-developers but don’t expect a novice to produce award-winning content within a week of purchasing a rapid author tool license.

  • Free up your own time

Identify tasks you spend the most time on and look for ways to streamline these. For example, seek software that will automate time-intensive tasks or streamline internal processes to save you time. If you don’t already do so, turn off email alerts and respond to your email at set times each day. This single action will hugely improve your personal productivity and give you time to focus on the important project tasks.

There is a saying that I over-use that goes:

“You can always make more money, but you can’t make any more time.”

This keeps me focused on what is important in life and reminds me that time is finite. It should be spent carefully, wisely and on those things that matter. I hope these tips will help you make best use of your time in making your elearning projects a success.



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