Project managers often oversee multiple projects simultaneously, meaning that they may work with several stakeholders, teams and strategies all at the same time, both online and face-to-face. For anyone prone to procrastination, the intense, deadline-filled world of project management can certainly present a challenge.
As a project manager, you may feel at times that it’s not as easy to focus on several tasks at once and find yourself dragging your feet. Even the most experienced project managers may at times find themselves procrastinating. The reality is that most people DO procrastinate. So instead of beating yourself up, apply some of the following simple tips to help get your work habits back on the right track.
Multiple projects and tasks can be overwhelming, so the most important thing to do is take a look at the bigger picture. Which projects and tasks are the most important, and how is their importance determined? Also, ask yourself ‘who is the project for?’
One interesting approach is this: allow yourself time to spend on one of your personal goals at the beginning of your work day, thus opening up time and mental space to focus on your professional tasks.
You can also implement the urgent/important grid, which categorises and prioritises projects into the following areas: urgent and important, urgent but not important, not urgent but important, and not urgent and not important. This simple yet highly effective method works well for many professionals.
2. Create a schedule
Email calendars can only help so much: think of your schedule like a project schedule. Take the time to actually construct a detailed schedule, starting from when you will begin working on a task to when you intend to complete it. For each step of the project, determine how much time it will take and then work within that time frame. By doing so, you will have a visual representation of the work that remains and will more likely to be motivated to keep yourself on track.
If you’re not sure how long certain tasks might take, or are curious about how you are using your time, try keeping a time log for a week. Jot down everything you do during the day, from rising in the morning to checking email to going for a run. This is a highly effective way of identifying time wasters, such as repeatedly checking online headlines or chatting with a co-worker.
If your company can afford the investment, consider implementing a project management software solution. These programs are amazingly powerful for all aspects of your project management and, among many other things, can help you with all of your scheduling.
Effective project management requires excellent delegation skills to succeed. An important thing to remember, however, is that your reasons for delegating must be clear to you and your team. Give careful thought to what you are able to do and what you will assign to qualified team members. Never delegate tasks randomly: make sure you assign work to those most capable of completing the job according to your time frame.
By streamlining the different pieces of the project puzzle, you can fend off the urge to procrastinate because while others are working on some parts of the project, you can be doing something you are good at and also enjoy.
Another important delegation tip is to be specific and realistic with your team about the deadlines and guidelines assigned to each task. Finally, once you have delegated, step back and let those involved apply their own creativity and skills to the job you’ve assigned them. Don’t become a micro-manager.
It’s important for every project manager to know his or her personal and professional limits. If you’re a procrastinator, knowing that you want or need to change is the first important step. As soon as you start to prioritise wisely, schedule your days in a way that works for your unique personality, delegate responsibilities and you’ll see those procrastinating tendencies start to quickly fade away.