Deadlines are an inseparable aspect of project management, but stress shouldnt be. In fact, removing stress from your workflow is one of the best things you can dofor both yourself and the team. In addition to improving your health and well-being, a stress-free process allows you and your teammates to think more clearly and deliver better quality work.
I know it sounds impossible, but you can eliminate stress from your deadlines. There are multiple angles you can take, such as those listed below. Combine theses tips for maximum effect:
Find a Better Way
Often, one of the reasons deadlines stress us out so much is because tasks just takes too long to accomplish. This is especially true in project management, where everything is laid out in steps, procedures, and workflows that are dictated from above. But you can still manage to squeeze in some extra productivity even while working within imposed restrictions.
Pick apart your personal habits and see what you can do to maximize your available time. Even just an extra ten minutes will be enough to give you some breathing room, which you can spend either resting or getting something else done. And dont restrict yourself to office hours, either. Take advantage of whatever free time you have, even if its during your commute to work.
If youve got some administrative weight to throw around, consult your team and see if there are any improvements you can make to your work process. But make sure management is okay with it, otherwise youre going to get slapped down.
Ask for Help
Many project managers are well-rounded generalists who can do nearly any task the project requires. But the problem with being able to do everything is that, sooner or later, you do end up doing everything. Project managers soak up extra work like a sponge, because we want to make sure our team is focused on their specialties, and not distracted by tasks that you can do yourself.
While its good to look out for your team, there is only so much a single person can achieve, no matter how many hours or minutes we wring out of our overflowing schedules. Sooner or later, you will eventually have to dump some of your tasks onto other people in order to meet your deadlines. Dont be shy about asking for help, but dont be obnoxious about it either.
Start Saying No
You have to know when enough is enough. Juggle too many deadlines, and youre going to end up dropping all of them. Set limits for yourself and your team.
Saying no doesnt always mean flat-out turning the task down. Work with the person making the request and come up with alternatives that get their task done but with a minimum of stress on your part. Can you refer the inquiry to another project manager with more time, or who is more qualified? Are you able to push the deadline back to a later date, when youre not as loaded? Can you outsource the task to a contractor?
No one is ever going to be happy about deadlines, but with these tips we hope you meet your next deadline in a calmer mood and with a clearer head.
Do you have any home-grown tips for taking the stress out of deadlines? Share them with us below!
Image credit, Jamiesrabbits, Flickr