Project management is one hell of a job. The expectation of multitasking is almost a given. That doesn’t mean, however, that it comes naturally to everyone.
Learning how to prioritise and multitask is of massive benefit to any project manager for three distinct reasons:
Optimum productivity – We can all hope to use our time wisely and get the most from the hours we spend. Learning how to prioritise and multitask will ensure that we both reach deadlines and exceed expectations.
Minimal risk of error – Being able to multitask effectively will help avoid things slipping because tasks are getting on top of you.
Proactive project planning – Every project manager seeks the perfect balance of efficient reactive responses and a clear proactive approach to developments and pipeline projects.
There are several reasons why a project manager is integral to the smooth and effective schedule of any project. Understanding what it takes to invest in your business, from the recruitment of your team to the decision to grow, is essential.
We explore seven tips for project managers of all levels to gain perspective on how to effectively multitask.
Give yourself space
Distraction is often the thief of productivity. While it’s necessary to be contactable, setting aside time and space to work through your to-do list is essential. For every phone call you take, every passing conversation you fall into, it takes around 23 minutes for your mind to get back on track. This level of distraction will drain productivity.
Schedule catch up calls with people instead of making off the cuff calls to manage your time – and your distractions.
Order your priorities
By understanding what takes priority each day, you’re already working ahead. One of the best pieces of advice we’ve ever had is to start the day with the task you least want to do. Don’t put it off. It might feel like an uninspiring start to the day, but actually, the sense of achievement you’ll feel from being able to cross it off the list will give you the boost you need. The weight of the task can slow your day down.
Timeshare of tasks
We’re all guilty of investing too much time into the lower priority tasks, for a variety of reasons. The best way to avoid this is to create a daily/weekly schedule which defines the time commitment you are going to make to each task. While it may be tricky to follow this to the letter, it will be useful in defining boundaries and setting deadlines.
Eliminate pointless tasks, or shorten the time spent on them. You can easily see what’s essential using priority columns in Eylean Board.
Schedule calls and meetings
Check-in on progress regularly. This will keep your team on their toes and create the opportunity to address issues sooner rather than later. As a project manager, the goal is to be aware of what’s going on – every step of the process.
By organising regular calls and meetings, you’re also allowing all stakeholders a forum for feedback. This prevents curveballs from hitting in the final stages.
Always set an agenda and follow up
Take ownership of your meetings by communicating what is expected of every attendee of the meeting. Establishing a plan will help you understand who needs to be present and what the goals are from sitting down together. Meetings for the sake of meetings can be a real strain on productivity, so ensure that only those that need to be there are invited.
Use the resources you have and play to the strengths in your team. Not all tasks should sit with you. Focus your time on understanding and tracking the wider scope of the project and lean on team members for support. In your regular calls and meetings, identify where tasks can be delegated.
If you can’t delegate them, can they be automated?
Take regular breaks
A simple hack, but an important one. Spending long bursts at your desk can impact productivity. Get up every two hours, even if only for a 10-minute fresh air break.
Taking breaks is also useful in time management — reward completion of a task with a break away from the screen.
As a project manager, the primary tool of your trade will be your ability to manage several things at once. These failsafe steps will only further help to maintain an evolving workload. Take action back when you can, to evaluate your work process and refine your approach.
About the author – Dom Stapleton works as a digital marketing manager at Boost Capital, provider of small business financing. He has over 10 years of experience in marketing, including email marketing, SEO and social media. He also runs a small retail business in his free time.