As a project manager, you have lots of different tasks to oversee. These come in all different shapes and sizes, with each one having its own level of priority. This makes completing even the simplest tasks more difficult.
But don’t despair. It doesn’t have to be this way! By implementing just a few of these task management tips you can ensure that you will stay on top of your task list and become more efficient in the way that you work.
Block out chunks of time
It’s amazing how often you sit down to start a task and immediately someone interrupts you to ask for help on something that they’re working on.
Unsurprisingly, this sort of stop-start regime is not great for productivity. In fact, one study has suggested that people spend an average of 11 minutes on a project before they’re interrupted. Let’s face it, you’re not going to achieve much in that time!
There is a solution. If you haven’t heard, the Pomodoro Technique is fantastic. On a basic level, its concept is to allow you to work for 25 minutes uninterrupted and then take a 5-minute break.
Try separating your different tasks into separate “pomodoros” and see if you can stay on track. You might be surprised at the results!
Recognise the importance of time management
We have previously written about the importance of time management to project success. A major part of this involves giving yourself enough time to complete your daily tasks.
So, what do you need to consider? For a start, decide what is a priority. Should you allocate more time/resources to these tasks? Or would completing smaller, but less critical ones first allow you to tackle the bigger tasks without distraction?
How you decide this will depend on the support you receive from within your project management hierarchy. If another member of your project team can spare some of their time to help you, it might just free up some crucial minutes that you can use elsewhere.
Wake up earlier to plan your day
If you’re not keen on early starts, you might not like this part.
But hear me out! Being a morning person actually has great benefits. One study has suggested that early risers are happier, healthier and more productive than night owls.
If you do tend to wake up earlier, you’re in good company. Former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher (5:00am) and Virgin founder Richard Branson (5:45am) are just two examples of successful people who prefer early starts.
The reasons why they do this are up for debate. Thinking logically, starting earlier means that you have more time to plan your day and assess what tasks need to be completed first. In a way, it helps you to be a step ahead of others who might prefer a lie in instead.
Use online task management software
Imagine this. You need one of your team members to complete a task urgently. As you approach their desk you can see that they’re not there. What do you do?
You could leave a sticky note. Not a terrible idea, but how do you guarantee that they will actually see it? We all know how easy it is to misplace one!
How about sending an email? This could work. However, with the average office worker receiving 121 emails per day there is a danger that your message might be lost in the sea of other emails clogging up their inbox.
There is an alternative. More and more project teams are using online task management software to manage not only their own tasks, but their team’s as well.
The leading platforms should allow you to:
- Create flexible task lists
- Assign tasks to individuals or teams and set priorities
- Set recurring tasks (such as payroll for example)
- Select teams or individuals to act as reviewers of documents
- Schedule auto reminders to keep people on track
Complete a time audit
For the vast majority of us, we start work at a certain time and then leave at a certain time.
During this time, have you ever broken down these hours to take a closer look at how you’re using this time?
I would guess not. When you’re already trying to manage a long to-do list, the last thing you want to do is to add another task for you to complete.
But completing a time audit doesn’t have to be time consuming. As outlined in this blog post by Productivity501, all you have to do is:
- Get some type of timer that can be set for a specific interval of time, (usually 15. 30 or 60 minutes)
- Each time the alarm goes off, write down what you are doing at that moment, reset the alarm, and go back to work
- Ideally, you should collect time audit data from several different days
- Once you have enough data, you should note what you were working on when the timer was stopped and how important a task it was
If you are finding that you’re spending more of your time working on unnecessary tasks, then you can then make changes to ensure that you’re focusing on the right areas.