Earlier this week, we shared some helpful tips for multitasking when your project management workload seems overwhelming. Since we know that the challenges of juggling several projects simultaneously are ongoing, following are a few additional strategies to help you manage your busy schedule:
During extremely busy times (especially when you have a lean staff), project resource roles tend to blur. As such, Project Managers usually turn into project secretaries in order to stay on top of project activities and keep things moving (sending dozens of emails, requesting updates, sending reminders, etc). When this happens, don’t forget that your primary responsibility is still to lead and motivate. If necessary, don’t hesitate to rotate team members to different posts and/or move your resources in/out of roles — to the point that it makes sense for your project. Whether you are a Project Manager with a larger team and more specialized staff, or running lean with an “everybody wears many hats” approach, the key is to use your resources where they will be most productive at that particular moment in time.
Although you may have a strong urge to pull tasks away from your project resources and do everything yourself during the ever critical moments of a crisis, a “do it all myself” approach is rarely a recipe for project success. No matter how great you are, your most powerful leverage needs to be your team. Learn to use them and trust them. Your team best learns to work under pressure when they are taught under pressure. Let go and let them help you. Where possible, give your team collaboration freedom. So long as this is done within a set strategy and priority sequence of tasks, you’ll probably be surprised by their work ethic and results (even if they are not as great as if you were to do them yourself).
Form Good Habits
Humans are creatures of habit. They help us set a comfort level and give us a sense of control in our lives. In Project Management, however, bad habits have the exact opposite effect. If you are spending most of your day putting out fires and reacting to emergencies, it’s time to change your habits. Start by making them SMART:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
Because Projects in essence are SMART, forming SMART Project Management habits align your day-to-day work style to project conformance.
Create daily checklists: Monitor your project plan daily and use it to create daily checklists for managing tasks for multiple projects by order of priority.
Categorize your work: Reduce complexity by separating your daily checklist tasks into categories.
Sequence tasks: Ensure that for every project the tasks have been properly sequenced in a way that makes sense.
Create a dashboard: Create a dashboard to capture progress and report on projects.
Plan your time: Split your day up into slices and assign checklist item execution accordingly into the appropriate slice (this way you are sure there is a time allocated to every checklist item).
Communicate: Communicate project progress to clients and stakeholders. Each milestone should ideally be followed with communication on its completion.
Find Your Balance
Remember that family and health come first. Make sure you find a healthy balance of family-life and work-life in a way that allows you to be at peace with yourself and your loved ones. If they compete, it’s time to take a step back at work and reassess your project situation.
Don’t take shortcuts in order to take on more projects. If you can’t provide each project the amount of attention that is needed, let your management know. Better to offload a project than to fail at one or more of them. There’s nothing wrong with admitting when your plate is too full.
Demetrios Gianniris is Director of Project & Technology Management at Eze Castle Integration. He is responsible for overseeing the daily administration and operations of the Project Management team, including project design development, construction management, professional services and information technology consulting. Follow Demetrios on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dgianniris.