It’s so easy to feel like a busy fool at work these days. In an increasingly connected world, we are never very far away from a distraction that can easily pull us away from completing a task and for busy project managers this can be tricky; creating chaos and disorganization as we flit from one task to another, never quite sure if we are prioritizing correctly and using our time efficiently.
In the world of project management time is golden, in these six tips we hope to help bring you some realistic solutions to managing your time more efficiently and getting projects completed effectively and on time.
Keep a tight schedule
Sitting at the top of the list of priorities for your busy week, or even your busy day should be your plan. Without putting some thought into how to prioritize your tasks, consider your goals and how you and your team might meet those goals you are going to struggle with. You need to decide what your priorities are and in what order, singling out those critical tasks on which all other, less important tasks tend to hang, factoring in the meetings, the resources and the time and availability of others.
You should also consider employee capacity planning to ensure that your team is not spread too thinly and everybody working on the project, remotely or in-house, can meet their deadlines and complete their tasks effectively. A great way to achieve this is using software (such as Asana for example) to keep track of what is happening, who’s doing it, and when it’s likely to be completed. This way you will be more able to keep on top of the project outcomes and be able to mitigate any obstacles should they arise. Your plan should include regular milestones that everybody can achieve and a vision for the project to ensure that no obstacles are the result of a lack of project clarity.
Separating urgent and important tasks
There’s an old saying that ‘not everything that is urgent is important and not everything that is important is urgent’ and it’s a good idea to follow this advice when setting about your priority list. Completing the project on time is important, completing the project on a budget is important, making sure your team meets their deadlines effectively is important, yet none of these might be urgent on day one. Getting the report you’ve been asked to complete today is urgent; it’s happening now. There are low important tasks and non-urgent important tasks. These things are fluid and likely to change from important to urgent as time moves forward and the trick is to identify exactly what should be focused on and when. Leaving important tasks too close to deadline creates high importance, high urgency task and that can lead to otherwise preventable pain points.
Filter those priorities
Once you know what’s important, or even urgent, you need to put them into some sort of priority order. It’s all too easy to consider everything equally important but that generally isn’t the case. You need to think strategically and determine the value of the items on your list. Consult with your team and get to the heart of the most important tasks; almost every time one or two tasks on your priority list will rise to the top when considered strategically. Focus on the bigger picture and you can help yourself and the project team avoids burning out trying to achieve everything at once.
A great way to achieve this is to utilize the Pareto Principle (otherwise known as the 80/20 rule) that states that 20% of your efforts will achieve 80% of your results. If you can identify the 20% of important tasks that will likely generate 80% of your project outcomes then you are far better able to prioritize efficiently.
Make sure everybody has access to project assets
Every project is likely to have a multitude of digital assets that may be used throughout the project; from logo and brand-specific imagery, through video, photography or audio content and even data and written content. Not only will there be lots of potential content, but there will also likely be many people requiring access to it. Regardless of whether it is your in-house team or your design agency that needs to get hold of the right asset at the right time, you must have a solid digital asset management plan in place. Ideally using a robust and reliable software solution similar to the type offered by digital asset management experts, Brandfolder, for example. The alternative is a scattered approach, likely to waste precious time as people need to ask or search for what they need; managing your digital assets effectively will keep time management on track.
Don’t be afraid to delegate or ask for help
If your project management team is on the same page; using collaborative software solutions to manage project assets and assess each other’s status and availability you will be in a great position to delegate tasks as required, ask for help when you need it and be able to offer your assistance where required too. People are a significant resource and your time management responsibilities extend to their time too; effectively managed you will find your team is happy to delegate and be delegated to whilst not being afraid to ask for help when tight deadlines loom.
Manage your email inbox effectively
Project managers, and managers in general, all know the dreaded feeling that arises from a full inbox at the start of an already tightly packed day. How do you get through all those requests for help and demands for your time whilst still achieving the goals you’ve set yourself in your priority list?
It’s so important to have a strategy to deal with email otherwise it can quickly become an inefficient and stressful time-suck. You must stay organized; only you will know how you work best in terms of your inbox. Is it a to-do list that you are happy to delete once a task is complete? Do you keep everything and use increasingly sophisticated searching capabilities such as you find in Google’s Gmail to find what you need? Find a system that works for you and stick to it.
Try not to treat each email as a conversation as that can lead to significant drains on your time. One way to mitigate this is by being clear about how you operate your inbox so that everybody knows what to expect. 80% of urgent requests will not actually be urgent so try adding an autoresponder to your email that tells people that you check and answer your emails at, for example, 9am 2 pm and 5 pm. Mention that emergencies should contact you by telephone. You’ll quickly discover that people can cope without you more than you think and allow you more time to focus on core tasks rather than engaging in back and forth email rallies all day. You could also add a simple FAQ to your auto-responder containing answers to the questions that you already know most email inquiries are about.
A bit of forward planning, tight teamwork and well-managed project assets and in-boxes can make all the difference to your time management.
Originally posted 2020-02-21 19:43:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter