Project Management can be pretty challenging and we all know it.
As I was reading through tons of how-to articles, life-hacks and interviews with innocent accidental project managers (who woke up one day to find a giant project on their desk) , I realized it’s really the same advice all around the block.
To come up with some original stuff, I spoke to my colleagues and applied my own experience to compile a list of basic project management hacks.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – this is a great quote I came across, and it pretty much sums up how any project should begin. This presupposes collecting as much info as possible, putting down the precise requirements to eliminate miscommunication, keeping the estimates reliable, etc.
Have a clear road map. You have to know exactly where you’re going and why you are actually going there, otherwise no software or magic will ever keep you from failing. Plan into perspective, but remember it’s crucial to know what needs to be done on a daily basis. This applies to both your tasks as a project manager and the tasks you assign to your team.
Prioritize and focus. I hardly ever heard one person say that multitasking increases your efficiency, and I think only the toughest of us can handle spreading ourselves too thin (think Chuck Norris tough). If you do many things at once, you probably won’t succeed in any of them AND you may end up procrastinating, as there is no sense of achievement, which is vitally important for your motivation. If you still have too many things on your to-do list, try to break them down into separate small tasks, each completed one step at a time.
Make lists. Your brain needs rest, so why load it with extra effort of having to keep the to-do list in your mind all the time? I’ve been compiling lists for as long as I can remember, and it helps me immensely, because I tend to get really stressed if I can’t see my whole day structured at a glance. The pain is easily taken away by just making notes that ensure I will never forget a birthday or a call that I’ve promised to make.
Document. Keep a project log for the lessons learned on the way. Write it as the project keeps rolling, otherwise you will forget the important details over being ecstatic about the project having come to an end.
Keep everything in one place. Using project management software makes it much easier for us as a team, because we can access all the info instantly. You may find a different way to keep you going – like spreadsheets, Google Drive or any others – the ultimate goal is to be able to rise above the infinite little things and see the big picture.
Manage interruptions. It’s totally okay to put an obnoxious sign on your door that displays your schedule or simply says “Bug Off”. Just put your phone screen facing down, set Skype to Do Not Disturb and do whatever it takes to just do it. The best way to manage interruptions is to set expectations with your team.
Remember you work with people. Even if the projects are inanimate, they are still managed by people. Never forget about your team and get better at resource management: know their strong/weak points to articulate the right tasks. This will bring additional satisfaction as a benefit because people will feel they are doing their best and are good at what they are doing.
Go into detail and train your team. It will take time, but in the long run it will prove really effective. Make sure everyone knows where they are and what they’re up to. Each person involved needs to be 100% sure what he/she needs to do, otherwise it will lead to stress and ineffectiveness.
Don’t put things off. It’ll only cause stress/procrastination. If it takes up to 15 mins to fulfill the task, start straight away and just FINISH IT (yes, it’s a Mortal Kombat reference). If it takes longer, put it on your usual daily to-do list (which you’ve surely compiled by now).
Experiment to find the best way of doing things that works for YOU. Find the tools that suit YOU. Learn to manage yourself and your work. Learn about the times you are more/less effective, or when you need to take a break to take your productivity to the next level. Productivity is the new black, and you can definitely find articles like “We Know How to Make You Feel Your Day Has 25 Hours In It” without any additional assistance.
Stay positive. When all else fails, smile, because life is beautiful. Sometimes you may just find a miracle where you less expect it.
All of these tips come with a notice: they may or may not be 100% effective, because people are different, but by trying out new things, you increase your chances to succeed to up to 99.9% (that’s what British scientists say).
Share that one tip that works best for you – maybe that’s the one that would save someone a couple hours of not stressing out! 🙂