The Top 10 things that will help you better manage your time as a team
In a few words, this is all you have to take a look into when managing your and your team’s working time …
There are plenty of articles online giving you tips and tricks to hack your productivity, better manage your time and projects. They are all over the place and many of the content is redundant. So we wanted to create a well-organized list that allows you to have most of these methodologies, tips, and tricks available […]
Implementing all of these may not be relevant to you but going through it you will identify the TOP points you may want to implement right away to increase your productivity, your teams’ efficiency, and better manage your work, projects, and time.
At planless.io, our job into help you skyrocket your productivity so if you need any help implementing these tips, feel free to get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to help you achieve better results.
This list is organized in 3 main sections and each one of them counts a huge number of tips:
Being more productive starts with your own personal productivity before even thinking about others’. Here is a list of things that really will help you focus and get things done
On all the things we have to do, most of them are not really adding value to our goals. Focusing on the things that really move the needle and actually make things move forward will help you deliver more.
Prioritize what you have to do and focus first on the things that will bring more value to your actual goal or that unblock other tasks that can achieve that. If something doesn’t really add value, remove it from your list or postpone it.
Ask yourself “Is that really necessary?” as often as you can. You’ll realize that most of the time the answer is: NO. So why do this that don’t really matter?
We have a limited ability to remember things. And keeping things in our memory is not making that part of our brain available for other things. If you want to really be effective on what you’re doing right now, you should unload all these thoughts.
It’s like a computer… when the disk or the memory starts to be full, it slows down… We work in the same way.
So you want to write down your thoughts and ideas to liberate that space and easily come back to it later.
planless.io private todo list of your dashboard is a great way of managing that easily and never lose track of them.
This is a classic but if often forget about it. It is so much easier to say YES. Saying NO is making us uncomfortable but we too frequently say Yes to things we don’t really want.
There are enough opportunities out there and saying YES to only what will really be worse our time is a huge time saver.
Further reading on this: The art of saying no
When we are in our work we often forget to step back and ask ourselves the right questions. Am I doing the right thing now? Does that really matter?
Taking a break will allow you to think about what you’re doing and reposition yourself.
In addition to that, you need to manage your energy, and taking breaks is important for that.
Another important aspect of breaks come when they are taken with others. Look at FIKA, this Swedish coffee break habit, and how it boosts your productivity.
To really focus on work and move things forward we should get rid of what distracts us. We’ll need a lot of time to re-focus on what we were doing and every time we get distracted is making us unproductive.
If you really want to move something forward, switch off your phone, notifications, screens if you can.
For interruptions caused by colleagues coming to ask you something, follow our tip: We all on the team have a little cuddy toy and when it’s on the top of our desk, it signals to others that we don’t want to be disturbed. We all respect that rule and will only talk to this person if it’s an emergency.
A cluttered space means a cluttered brain and that means you can’t get stuff done. Cleanup your working environment, the simple the better. You only need your laptop and a notebook on your desk, all the rest are distractions. Keep your desk as simple as possible, you don’t really need anything else…
If you can, try to take care of your recurring tasks in 1 day instead of spending them out through your week. Take care of all of them during one day, remove all other distractions, and just focus to get them all done during that day. That will allow you to focus on your work the other days of the week more deeply and don’t have to do small things every day.
This will make you focus on the right things at the right moment and avoid having every day some small chunks of work.
Decision taking is killing your brainpower. Put in place systems and rules that allow you to remove decision making.
One of the most redundant decisions we are taking every day is what we should wee work on next. What now? If you put in place the right systems, these types of decisions will be much less painful. For this particular decision-taking, implementing a tool like planless.io will remove this decision process or reduce it drastically.
In add-on to that, plan your days in detail and stick to it. Planless can tell you what you should work on today but you can go further by defining in the morning what you will do hour by hour. Mapping out your day every morning will make you hyper-productive and really keep your focus on achieving what you want.
Don’t do multiple things simultaneously. This creates every time a switch of context and it is proven that it will take on average 25 minutes for you to focus back on the task you were doing before.
If you use a project/task management tool, avoid having more than 1 task in progress also. That’s counterproductive and makes your planning actually wrong.
In planless.io we decided to block that, people can’t have more than 1 task in progress. That makes it clear what each one really is working on and gives much more focus to people.
Don’t let phone calls, messages, or apps interrupt you during the first hour of your day. Use this hour to think about what’s ahead of you during the day, use it to read a book, and enjoy your breakfast and your family.
Before you stop your day of work, make it habit to take some minutes to plan your next day. Set your priorities and map out your day. It allows you to start the next day knowing exactly where to start and how to move what you wanted forward. Don’t “go with the flow”, preparation is half the way to achievement.
We spend too much time thinking or said differently worrying. Don’t think too much, just go into the action and DO. See what happens and if it works continue, if not move to the next thing.
Most often seen in corporations, some businesses have a very bad habit of doing a LOT of meetings to look important and procrastinate work. Please STOP this waste of time, you have better to do.
Putting in place a lot of tips and tricks to boost your productivity and doing it only some days won’t work. Everybody wants to bee an achiever but if that’s what you really want, be consistent. Be a productivity beast and act like one. Every single day.
The time of the day or the day of the week you’re going to do a particular task is very important. Not every moment is the best to do something.
Try to think about your tasks and about when are the best moments for you to do them. Is it better for you to this type of task early in the morning, after lunchtime, at the end of the day, early in the week…
Mornings are generally moments where we have more self-awareness and self-control. These are great times for team meetings and decision making.
Small things can compute to an insane amount of hours. Learn some Keyboard shortcuts for things you often use in some apps, learn speed-reading, or even speed up your mouse… these seem stupid things but it can make you win hundreds of hours during the year.
Learning takes time but you largely get this time back afterward.
This principle was created by an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, and it is the basis for what is popularly known now as the 80/20 rule. It’s the idea that approximately 20 percent of what we do (our most important tasks) generates about 80 percent of the value in our lives.
Choose wisely at the beginning of your week the 1 or 2 tasks that will have the most outcome for you and make them your top priority.
You’ll discover the domino effect of accomplishing that simple action(s) and that will lead you to accomplish more than you thought you could.
A study made on 44,000 participants showed that the most motivational technique before you start something is self-talk. It works better than picturing yourself doing something successfully or planning how to do it.
Before you even start tackling your tasks, talk yourself up telling yourself “I’m ready for this” or “I will be successful today”, “I got this”, “I’m going to outperform”…
According to researcher Janet Polivy, our brains don’t work well with big, complicated projects, making us avoid working on them.
You have to break up your projects and tasks in small chunks. On the planning side, if a task is more than a day of work, break it down in different parts to optimize planning and resource allocation.
When it comes to starting to work on a task, break this task down in chunks of 20 minutes maximum, and create your todo list. You’ll then be able to easily tackle one step after the other removing your brain freeze on tackling this huge task that looked like climbing a mountain and that you were just trying to avoid.
Setting goals is the best way to not lose focus and productivity. Start by defining your long-term goals and then define milestones to go there.
Then break down the next milestones in steps and the next step in tasks.
You can easily go form a 5 or 10 years long-term goal to yearly milestones, monthly steps, and weekly tasks.
Review this every week or month to stay on track with them and do the necessary adjustments.
Productivity and efficiency are all about focus. Multi-tasking is counter-productive and you should be constantly defining one single thing to focus on.
Ask yourself what’s the most important thing right now, or what is the one thing you could do that would move your next goal the most forward.
You can not only define what is this one thing today, but you can define your “one thing” for the week, the month, the year, or even YOUR one thing, meaning what’s your mission.
Write your one thing down, it’s proved that your much more likely to achieve things when you write them down.
We all have a ton of these little tasks that take 2 minutes every single day.
Getting them done will help you build and maintain momentum throughout your day just because of the sense of accomplishment of getting things done.
The 2min rule will help you manage your todo list more effectively.
Read this article by James Clear in which he succinctly explains how you can use the 2-minute rule to beat procrastination if you’re still not convinced.
When you have a huge task in front of you it’s difficult to tackle and keep you moving until you finished it.
Break it down in small chunks will help you achieve it easily.
Let’s say your goal is to write a book of 250 pages, that on average 60,000 words.
Put yourself a daily goal of writing 500 words and in 4 months your book will be written.
It’s much easier to think every day about writing 500 words and will take you 2 to 3 hours of work instead of focusing on writing and writing until it’s finished.
We are addicted to looking at our emails. It creates a rush of dopamine but this actually exhausts you. This makes you feel tired and unproductive at the end of the day.
Turn of your email notifications, define 2 moments on your day to check them and resist the urge of checking them more often.
Never check your emails first thing in the morning. Start by working on something important for 30 minutes to an hour and only check them after that.
This works mainly because as long as you are unaware of everything going on out there, you will be able to totally focus on your work.
Check out this great article to know even more about it: https://sidsavara.com/do-not-check-email-in-the-morning/
This recommendation goes for other things also, like your phone and all possible notifications. That’s our next point…
Our smartphones are a living hell for productivity. Every notification is an occasion for you to go out of your deep work and you’ll need 25 minutes to get really back to it.
When working on something, turn of your notifications and if possible even switch off your phone (or put it in do not disturb mode).
It feels good to receive messages and notifications, I get it. But it’s totally counter-productive.
You work will expand to the amount of time you’ve made available for it.
If you plan 4 hours to do something it will most likely take you 4 hours even if it could have taken you less.
Reduce the amount of time you’re allocating to your tasks and it will force you to try to get them done in that amount of time allowing you to move to the next task faster.
You have to schedule your unscheduled time. Define fixed buffers in your day will give you time for unexpected things, phone calls, emergencies, or simply allow time to recharge yourself.
You will quickly find out that it’s during these buffer times that you get the most stuff done during your days.
When you’re blocked on something or simply don’t feel you’re making real progress on a task, stop for a minute and talk about it with a colleague or friend.
This often goes a long way toward helping you refocus on it differently and unblock the situation. Even if that person won’t help you fix the problem, the simple fact of you talking about it and brainstorming will help you refocus differently and unblock the situation.
Unfortunately, we often forget about getting help when we’re getting stuck. We try to force our way through it instead of stepping back.
A simple hack to get your monotonous tasks done is to make a game out of it. Set a short timer and try to finish it in 10 or 20 minutes. Get yourself up to a challenge and make it a game for you to finish it in the given time.
Even though you should do the things that take less than 2 minutes immediately and get rid of them, it is recommended to start tackling your hardest or least favorite tasks first thing in the morning.
That’s where your energy and focus levels are at the top and once you did these challenging tasks, the rest of the day just seems easy.
I do that on Saturday mornings but you can do that on Friday afternoon or when it’s convenient for you.
Ask yourself some key questions:
Doing this at the end of each week allows you to take some time to think about these things and the chances that you’re going to do the same mistakes again are extremely low.
Make it a habit and you’ll get better week over week.
For some people it’s in the morning, some in the afternoon, it’s really different for each one of us. For me, it’s early in the morning…
Make space for this special moment because if you don’t use it, you’ll lose your peak of productivity and you’ll finish your day with the feeling you didn’t achieve anything.
Don’t schedule calls or meetings, turn off any distraction possible, and just use this time to do the most of your day.
And remember that the hardest is to get started, so tell yourself you just do 5 min of something and once you started you’ll just finish it.
When we are in a Deep work mode, we often have things coming to our mind like that we need to pay a bill or a new idea of a blog post or how to do X for a certain project or client.
Don’t let these thoughts disturb your deep work period, they don’t deserve your attention (at least not right now). Just write them down and forget them… You’ll get back to them once you finished your session.
Always keep a note pad and a pen next to you for that.
The Eisenhower Matrix, used by Dwight Eisenhower to make decisions during his time as a general, was popularized by Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It helps you to quickly determine what you should work on and what you should ignore.
To create an Eisenhower Matrix, make a 2 x 2 square. On one axis, write “important” and “not important.” On the other, “urgent” and “not urgent.”
If something is Important and Urgent, just do it.
If it’s important but not urgent, plan it.
Not important but urgent, delegate it.
Not important and not urgent, eliminate it.
It is simple and very powerful to make your decisions about stuff you have to do very straight forward.
You’ve probably already heard of the 80/20 rule from the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto (also called the Pareto Principle) that states that, in any pursuit, 80% of the results will come from 20% of the efforts.
Now you can bring it to another level by applying the 80/20 rule to itself, meaning that 4% of our actions lead to 64% of the outcomes.
Think about it, look at everything you have to do, and tell yourself what is this 4% that will lead to the 64% results? If you have 50 tasks in your pipeline, pick the 2 that will make the difference and get them done.
Nobody can be focused during a long period of time. Our focus span is actually pretty small and if you want to keep your total focus and have great productivity breaks are something crucial.
The Pomodoro technique is quite powerful when it comes to that.
The principle is simple. Work for 25 minutes, take a 5 min break. And after 4 sessions of work take a 15 to 30min break.
This way of working allows you to have a total focus in your working sessions and keep that focus and energy throughout your day.
We receive and send so many emails every day. Email is a productivity killer. So the 1st thing we already mentioned is to check it only 2 times a day. But you can also improve the quality of the emails you are sending to avoid back and forth.
Spending a little more time on writing an email but making it clearer and reduces the number of emails you’ll have to read and write.
A typical example is when you’re writing an email to set an appointment or a call. Don’t just ask when will be a good time. State why you want to do this call, what would be the agenda and propose different possibilities of date and time.
That way, the recipient of your email halal the information needed and can just pick the best moment for him. He won’t send you another email asking why, what’s the content of this meeting, ask for an hour that won’t fit you, and avoid many back and forth that at the end will make you lose much more time than writing a clearer email at the start.
Highly productive people don’t wait to get motivated or inspired, they just start working.
If you are waiting to get motivated or inspire it is probably because you’re looking at the huge amount of work in front of you and it is intimidating you.
But just get started…. Action leads to more action and this leads to motivation and inspiration. Don’t lose time waiting for you to be ready to climb the mountain, just do the first steps, then you’ll be all ready on your way and it’s much easier to continue that to start.
Like Abraham Lincoln said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”.
Getting yourself prepared to perform a task is as important if not more than actually executing it.
The same goes for productivity, if you set up your environment and habits to be productive you did half the job.
Spending time on preparation isn’t a loss of time, in the end, you’ll win time.
You can’t be the best at everything. Keep your focus on what is really important and what you’re good at. Delegate the rest.
Refer to our point about the Eisenhower Matrix and if something is not important but urgent, delegate it.
If you have no one in your team you can delegate your task to, outsource.
Steve Jobs said that what made Apple Apple was not so much what they chose to build but all the projects they chose to ignore.
Keep a list of things you did and should do anymore. List unproductive or counter-productive things and keep a record of them will allow you to not repeat the same mistakes of doing thongs that won’t set you up for success.
If you take 30 minutes every morning to go to work and 30 minutes to go back home, you actually spend 6 work weeks on the road per year.
Use this time efficiently, listen to audiobooks, podcasts are you commute driving. Read if you are commuting in public transports. Use this time to get better!
Why going to the supermarket or to the gym when it’s the most crowded? Why are you heading to work when there is the most traffic?
Avoid peak hours will make. You save a lot of them!
To be a top performer, do things the right way the first time. So many of us are focusing on getting the job done and end up having much more work afterward fixing their mistakes.
Get the things done properly the first time will save your days fixing them.
Start with next month. What are the main things you want to achieve and what are already your meetings, events during this month? Now define for each week of the month when you want to get them done.
Now take the next week. Look at what you defined on your month planning for this week and split it up day by day. Define exactly what you will do each day.
Now take the next day from this week’s calendar and split your tasks by hours.
Take a habit to prepare your next day at the end of every day, your next week at the end of every week and your next month at the end of each month.
You can push the system further to the year also.
Setting this habit will allow you to keep focused on what you want to achieve and you won’t work on stuff that isn’t aligned with that.
There are hundreds of project/task management systems out there. Find the one that works for you and stick to it. Don’t try constantly new ones, it’s a waste of time.
Have a look at planless.io as you are here as it provides all the tools you need to manage your work and offers on top of that intelligence that will save you a lot of time planning and managing people’s workload.
Use the “Sent from my iPhone” signature at the end of your email even if you sent it from your computer. That way people won’t think you’re being rude by sending a one-sentence email. Don’t abuse from that technique but it’s a great way to send quick emails without offending the person that gets it.
We all receive too many emails. Once per month or per quarter, check your inbox and do a massive cleanup unsubscribing from emails you don’t really care about. That will drastically reduce the amount of undesired content you receive and the time you spend every day on checking them.
First, get rid of most meetings. Most of them are useless. But some are necessary… So group them!
Grouping your meetings one after the other will avoid you to switch context between meeting and work.
Schedule meeting free days is also a very productive way of having days focused on producing.
The most you can do the better. At least, set 1 day per week as meeting free where you will really be able to dive into focused work.
It’s 10:12 am, we had a meeting scheduled at 10 and we are still waiting for the last participants to arrive.
That’s a HUGE waste of time. People are always late and this is a lack of respect. They are wasting others’ time by being late and you shouldn’t accept that (neither should you be the one late).
Get your teams to be on time at meetings and respect the schedule. The same goes for the duration of the meeting.
So if you have planned 30 minutes, stick to it.
Tracking time is often badly perceived. Time tracking allows you to know how much time you really spent on things. But it’s also a great way to see what are your time-wasting culprits.
Make a habit to track the time you’ve work on every single task will give you great insights on how to get better organized and better plan and estimate your work.
Use a tool like planless.io to have that natively integrated into your project management tool.
Even if you don’t necessarily have a deadline for a task, set one. It will force you to commit to finishing it on time.
Knowing that you only have a certain amount of time to do something will help you ensure that you won’t spend time on unnecessary things.
Always have backup tasks. There are moments where you will be blocked on your plans. You need some information from someone that isn’t available, you need to wait on someone to finish something before you can start and he/she is late on what was planned, …etc.
Always have other options available for these moments where you can’t get what you’ve planned done.
A great way to manage that automatically is to use planless.io prediction engine that will tell you at any time what you should work on if you’re stuck.
When you stumble upon interesting articles, don’t let them interrupt you right away and break your productivity.
Keep a reading list and in these cases, just add them there.
You can read them when it’s a good moment, for example on a commute or on dedicated learning/reading hours you’ve defined. (I have 1 to 2 hours reading session every evening).
The same goes for books, keeps a list of books you want to read.
We spend an average of 8 years and 10 months of our lives watching TV. Instead of watching so much television you could be doing much more productive things or learn new stuff.
You don’t need to sell your TV, but reduce the amount of time watching it will be a great time saver.
The time you’re spending trying to decide on something could be spent on more productive things. Make decisions, fast, live with them, and move on to the next thing.
Define a day for taking care of your errands, cleaning, laundry…etc. Doing so will not let these things over your head while you’re trying to focus on what you’re doing.
You have so many small tasks that are repetitive and that you can automate. We say that a good developer is not someone that is coding fast but that finds a way to write code that is reusable and so he won’t have to rewrite it again and again.
The same goes for so many things, from scheduling meetings, recurring billing, or following up by email.
If something can be automated through software, spend the time to implement it and you’ll save a lot of time in the future.
Elon Musk is a very busy guy. He runs his companies by breaking up his days in 5 minutes increments, even his lunch.
Read more about it here: https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-productivity-schedule-hack-2017-6
A consulting firm studied the difference between working in a normal office versus working in an airplane.
They found out that one hour of uninterrupted work in an airplane yielded the equivalent of three hours of work in a normal office environment.
The lesson of this is the word “uninterrupted”. In an airplane, you can really focus on working on something without being disturbed. Your phone isn’t ringing, you don’t have internet access (even if now it’s possible), no colleagues can come and tap on your shoulder….
So should you fly more often? No, but that can be applied to our actual environment. Enclose yourself for skyrocketing your focus and productivity as if you were in an airplane for some hours.
Stephen R. Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, explained this principle where you schedule a time for your most important tasks first. Imagine them as “big rocks” filling a jar. If you start with “big rocks,” and then put in sand or smaller rocks, all the gaps and cracks will get filled.
Apply that to your work, talk first the m most important stuff and it leaves then space for the rest. If you start with the small and not so important things, you won’t have space to fit all your big rocks.
Focus@Will is an app that not only removes distractions, it also increases productivity. How? It discovers the type of music to put your brain into a “flow state.”
Like they state, it is “Personalized focus music to help you get stuff done when you’re stressed and under pressure”.
If your goals are:
It will make them much more achievable and clear.
Don’t focus on lag indicators.
We too often focus on the outcome… Like in sales where we focus on revenue.
But these are lag indicators. If you look at them you’re reacting too late down the chain.
Instead, you should focus on lead indicators. Measurable things that lead you to the outcome.
So instead of focusing on how much you’re selling, focus on the number of leads you’re bringing in, on the number of phone calls you did…etc
On average we have 27 different login/passwords we use. And sometimes we forget about them. The time you lose recovering passwords from apps or online services is huge.
Use a password manager so you’ll never have to remember any of them anymore. Just don’t forget the access to your password manager 😉
Actively listening and getting all your focus on a conversation is the best way to avoid misunderstanding and having people needing to repeat themselves.
You’ll boost your productivity and save a lot of time by being an active listener, reducing the length of your conversations, and avoid mistakes on execution due to not having understood well what was asked to you.
Conventional wisdom says that finding the ideal office temperature is important to worker productivity. A difference of just a few degrees can have a significant impact on how focused and engaged employees are.
More details here: https://www.thoughtco.com/how-temperature-affects-productivity-1206659
Studies have found that we “become more trusting, relaxed, and nicer towards each after interacting with a canine.” Furthermore, playing with your best friend reduces stress. This isn’t a problem if you work from home, but what if you can’t bring your dog to work? Looking at pictures of animals can have similar effects.
Do you have clear goals? Things you want to achieve? Great!
Now multiply them by 10 or even more and set this as your new goals.
It will become so simple to achieve your old goals when your target is much higher.
Even if you need to focus on your most challenging tasks first, you sometimes just need something good to happen to set you up for success.
Getting a simple task checked as done or simple things like making a colleague feel great (make a nice compliment) and getting their smile in return get you with positive energy and set you up with a strong winning attitude that will allow you to tackle anything.
Did you finish something ahead of schedule? YOu’ve found the time to give a phone call to a friend and have a nice chat with him/her?
That feels good…
Always try to end your days with something that makes you feel great and you will want the same tomorrow!
Even though thousands of tools and apps can assist you with time management and productivity, don’t go hog wild. Having too many of these tools and apps is counter-productive. Limit yourself to the essentials.
Tools like planless.io will have most of what you need in a single app. Manage your projects, plannings, workload, collaborate, chat, store your files, track your time…
Why having 5 tools is you can have 1.
When a quote or anything else is something motivating to you, print it and put it on the wall.
Having visual motivators surrounding you often come handy when you’re struggling and keep you motivated.
A mentor will share with you the tips and tricks that have worked for them, as well as the mistakes to avoid.
Perfection doesn’t exist. Why are you always worried to get things “perfect”?
Do you best and keep moving forward. Remember that only 20% is responsible for the 80%…
At the time we are writing this most people on earth are kinda forced to work remotely because of the COVID pandemic.
The fact is that changing your environment and setting your office at home or elsewhere can help you really focus and work on the moments where you’re really the more productive.
Office environments can be very ineffective when it comes to productivity. Between chatty coworkers and constant interruptions, you might want to escape the office chaos and get into your bubble to really move stuff forward.
We all run into problems on a daily basis and it causes stress. But we have to overcome that and one (maybe stupid) technique is to be very pragmatic.
If there is a problem, there are solutions. If there are solutions, there is no problem…
Just tackle it. List the potential solutions, and solve it. It doesn’t get more complicated.
Know that everything will get done. You got this.
Don’t let meetings take too much time. There is a reason for that meeting and a desired outcome.
Don’t let people starting to off track. That’s the best way to have endless and unproductive meetings.
Focus on the subject and the outcome and kept it as short as possible.
Imagine your team as a boat with 10 people. There are always 2 that drive thereat forward, 6 that watch them doing the hard job, and 2 that slows it down.
If you have the power to do so, fire the 2 last ones, motivate the 6 guys, and read the 2 first ones.
If you don’t have the power to decide, avoid the downers. Nod at them in the corridor and avoid them as much as possible. They will just bring you down with them.
Instead, spend time with the doers and challenge yourself to be better than them. They will help you get better and that’s the kind of environment you’re looking to be in to be productive.
It’s always easier to finish working on something without interruption that getting back to it. If you can always try to finish what you start at once.
If you can’t, get back to it and finish it. Don’t leave too many tasks unfinished. It will need so much mental strength to get back to them one by one and finish them later.
You need to persevere through things in order to be highly productive. If you start being stuck on a task, just keep trying to do it.
It is like a muscle. The more you’ll rain yourself on overcoming challenges the easiest it gets. Learn to become autonomous and don’t call for help as soon as you’re a bit blocked. (don’t stay there too much though – at some point, you really might need some help).
Too often I saw people working with low-quality material. Just buy the best machine you can afford… it will remove 200 times per day 2 or 3 seconds of waiting time. That’s 10 minutes at the end of the day or a complete workweek at the end of the year.
It’s really worth the investment.
You’ll lose a lot of time with unidentified calls. They will even stress you out. Take the habit to constantly add new numbers to your contacts so that you can always quickly choose which calls are worth your time or not.
Make sure no one is looking and just jump a few times at your desk. You’ll be surprised. It gives you a short energy boost and jostles your body and your brain.
Working in a collaborative environment doesn’t help to focus on work. People come up to you asking for all sorts of things and taking you out of your work.
Wearing headphones will tell them that you are in your bubble and they’ll think twice before coming to disturb you.
You don’t even need to listen to music, just wearing them should give you some peace.
What would be your ideal day? How will it be? Hour by hour? From when you wake up until when you go to sleep…
Now that this is done do the same for your week. Basically copy-paste your ideal day and do some adjustments to incorporate recurring tasks, buffers, moments for deep work, ..etc.
Look at your ideal day every morning and at your ideal week every Monday morning.
It will allow you to picture it and the probability that your actual days will end up that way is much bigger.
The following “Healthy” tips and tricks will allow you to keep your energy to the highest levels, every single day.
Don’t neglect the health factor in your productivity and performance. If you’re not good in your mind and body, you can’t achieve great results.
It is obvious but at the same time, so many of us underestimate the power of exercising. Some may say that they are more tired after exercising but the truth is that exercising daily will make you fitter and more energetic, happier, and smarter.
Make it a routine and define 30 minutes at least every day to workout.
Laughing reduces stress and if you want to be productive, stress isn’t good for you. Make it a habit to laugh, if you didn’t get your share of laugh during the day, take some minutes to watch some funny videos.
Things don’t always go as planned and sometimes we have bad news or we just simply screw up… Don’t let that dictate the rest of your day. Take some time for yourself, go for a walk, do something else, and reset your mindset.
Don’t stay in a negative place, go back to positive things, and go back with a great mindset.
In the chaos of our lives, it’s sometimes easy to forget what really matters to us, why we are great, and what really drives the needle for us.
Write down some pages about who you are, what you want to achieve, picture yourself, write down your goals, your rules, your principles, some quotes from books that you want to remember and read that document as often as possible (if possible every morning when you wake up)
It helps you stay focused and boost yourself.
Studies showed that chewing gum can increase your productivity. It speeds up your reaction time by 10%, it boosts cognitive abilities making you more prepared to think about complex problems, it combats sleepiness. This is a weird tip but try it out and judge by yourself.
Stress and anxiety are some of the top things that will lower your productivity. Mindfulness is “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”.
Instead of thinking about your work, your due dates, or what you should say during a presentation, focus on yourself and on what surrounds you. Listen to your breathing, to the flow of your fingertips hitting the keyboard, or just stop for a second and get lost in your thoughts by listening to the noise around you.
It will help you remove your worries and focus on what you’re experiencing at the moment.
Whether you’re a morning or evening person, set a constant routine on these key moments.
Morning routines set you up for success, prepare you for the rest of your day. Always wake up at the same hour, have a great breakfast, define your daily goals, and how you’re gonna tackle that, …etc.
Evening routines are also very important. They allow you to analyze your day and prepare you to have a great night of sleep. Focus on what went well during the day and ask yourself what you could have done better. Clarify what you need to take care the next day and focus on activities that prepare you for a good sleep after that.
Setting up these routines will help you be prepared for anything throughout your day and keep your energy at the maximum by helping you recover correctly.
Willpower is a muscle. The more you use it, the easiest it becomes. But no one has unlimited willpower.
Habits are a very effective way to reduce your dependency on willpower because it removes the amount of decision making and reduces the effort needed in our daily routines and responsibilities.
Build great habits and kill the bad ones, will definitely set you up for better productivity.
Most of the people are stressed. Researches show that people that think stress is hurting them, is really hurting them. On the opposite, people that don’t see stress as a bad thing are not really affected by it and actually helps them outperform even in challenging situations.
They use stress as a weapon instead of letting it hurt them.
So next time you feel stressed, think about this and instead of letting it hurt you, let it boost you.
Yeah, that sounds crazy, but studies proved that a standing desk increases productivity by 46% compared to sated desks.
Some of the benefits are:
We recommend to start small, first some minutes per day and slowly increase your time working standing.
With this new habit, your day will pass quicker and you will be able to concentrate more on your work.
It takes 21 days to build a habit, right? Well not really. It actually takes between 18 to 254 days. On average it takes 66 days.
So if you want to build a new habit, the key to success is consistency.
Most people fail at building habits because they start strong and give up too fast.
Here’s where a proven productivity hack by Jerry Seinfeld commonly known as the ‘Don’t Break The Chain’.
Put a calendar on the wall and cross-out every day you executed your new habit. Create a chain of some days in the beginning and never break the chain. You will love to see your chain growing day after day and week after week and the longer it gets, the less likely you will want to break it.
Get proud of your huge chain and soon your habit will become automatic.
Every time you need to make a decision it eats up a little part of your brainpower. This is not only for work or business decisions but it can come done to simple things. Remove all possible decisions on your daily life will help you keep the most of your brainpower for your work.
Take the example of Steve Jobs that was always wearing the same black turtleneck. It just limited one decision he had to make every day.
You can find many of these small decisions you have to do every day and find a way to remove them.
If you’re stuck, take a break. Have a walk, go to a coffee, and change your environment.
According to a study from the Journal of Consumer Research, the amount of noise in a coffeehouse is just enough to stimulate creativity.
Get yourself moving and in another place will help you energize and get on track when you’re back in your working place.
If you aren’t thinking straight or have trouble focusing, take a look at your personal habits. 6 or 7 hours of sleep isn’t necessarily enough for you, maybe you need 8 or 9. And are. You sleeping deeply? Do you really rest while sleeping?
Bad sleep affects your productivity for days. Not just the next one.
Having a good sleep is necessary for you to maintain a high level of focus and energy.
For managing that, define routines. Always wake and got to bed at the same hours (even on weekends) and have an evening routine that prepares you to be relaxed and have deep sleep. Get rid of thoughts and worries.
Keeping you fit and in shape is an important part of productivity. But many people don’t work out, or not every day, or once a day.
Set a habit to workout, even simple workout, and do it twice a day in smaller sessions.
Do one session first thing in the morning and another one at the end of the afternoon.
Doing one big session in the morning will reduce your energy and you’ll feel very tired in the afternoon.
The late session will give you the right fatigue to get a good sleep and will move the stress accumulated throughout the day.
So many good things happen when you are doing nothing. Don’t forget about getting lost in your thoughts. Go to a coffee or a park and just do nothing. Switch off your phone and stay just with yourself and your thoughts.
So many good things happen at these moments. Keep a habit of doing that regularly.
Breathing can change your perception of time. First, we need to breathe with our belly using our diaphragms like babies do (we just forgot to do it with time).
Second, we need to breathe slowly and deeply.
You don’t need to do it all the time, but doing it during some minutes in the morning before starting a certain task, before a meeting or when you feel stressed, will allow you to expand your perception of time.
I personnel started waking up at 6am some months ago and want to go now to 5am.
It’s incredible how much more time you’ll get by doing so, and the feeling of having done an entire day of work at lunchtime is just amazingly motivating.
It will take some time to get this habit but you won’t regret it. (my personal tip: wake up at this hour even on weekends, it helps to keep the same rhythm and build the habit)
Ask yourself this question every morning when you wake up. Learning is one of the most important things to do for you to be better tomorrow. Keep a habit of learning.
Not necessarily do you need to learn a new skill every day. You could be wanting to learn something about your business, about a colleague, or about a client.
Set new learning challenges for yourself every single day!
To keep your energy high, eat the right foods that will help you maintain energy. Avoid sugar, pasta, bread, and junk food…these give you only a temporary boost but it doesn’t last and is more harmful than anything else.
Use caffeine strategically: It takes 20 minutes to kick in, so drink it 20 minutes before you need to power up.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated, a glass of water is often the best answer to tiredness.
Getting a glass relaxes, I get it. But don’t do it before sleeping. It will prevent you from getting restful sleep.
If you need a drink, do it some hours before going to bed but avoid any alcohol one the 2 hours before you’ll got sleep.
This one is weird, I know…
“Research from Ohio State University found that sniffing lemon improved people’s moods and raised levels of norepinephrine, a brain chemical linked to executive decision-making and motivation. Another study found that students exposed to a citrus-scented cleaner were more likely to clean up after themselves, while in a Japanese study the scent of lemon improved typing accuracy, with workers making 54 percent fewer errors.”
Meditation is a common practice of many extremely successful people, and with good reason.
Most things in our life are outside of our control. We cannot control the world around us, or what other people say and do, but through meditation and hard work, we can control our own minds. A trained mind can be the best friend you’ve ever had, and with it, you can accomplish things you never thought possible.
Read more here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/287524
Take a minute to consider what your body is doing right at this moment. Are your legs crossed or stretched out? Are you smiling? Is your back hunched? Where are you resting your elbows? Are you looking at the screen with a dazed appearance on your face?
Whether you’re aware or not, everything the body does will communicate something to the brain and to those around you. Although a few bodily gestures might send more obvious messages than other ones, even the most subtle positions may affect your mood and impression you make on friends, clients, and colleagues. Therefore, if you already are sending messages with your body all the time anyway, why not leverage body language to your advantage?
Read more here: https://www.inc.com/murray-newlands/7-body-positions-and-gestures-that-can-improve-your-productivity.html
Natural light and sun exposure will boost your energy and focus, reduce your stress, and help you even sleep better.
It is well known, even though we forget to use this natural help and take advantage of it.
Smiling boosts your immunity, makes you happier and look younger, helps you deal with stress and focus on the bigger picture, makes others trust you more, and of course, feels great.
More on this: https://alifeofproductivity.com/7-ways-smiling-will-make-you-more-productive/
A healthy and yet different way to do a meeting…
Instead of sitting down in a meeting room, take your peers out there for a walk and make your meeting walking.
It reduces stress and improves collaboration!
When achieving something important, don’t forget to celebrate your victories and allow yourself some reward!
We all need this for our mental health and it makes us want for more.
Do the same with others, don’t forget to celebrate their victories and congratulate them.
It’s totally normal to have a little dip after your lunch. Our bodies want to sleep after 7 hours awake and the digestion amplifies this desire.
Most offices are not open on napping but if you can (for example if you work at home) take a 20minutes “power nap”.
A great hack we discover and that actually works is to take a coffee just before doing your nap. Caffeine will kick in just when you need to wake up and you’ll feel rested and with all your energy back, ready for another round!
If you can’t do a nap and you feel sleepy, go for a walk or work on something less demanding for your brain until the sleepiness passes.
If you don’t want to end with serious back pain, keeping a good posture while working is important.
But it also helps to better breathe and therefore reduces stress.
So this is a vicious circle as stress leads you to adopt bad posture.
If you start to feel some tension on your back and shoulders, stand up, stretch out, walk a bit and go back to work trying to maintain a better posture.
I hate this one… but some of you might like it.
It’s the Death clock. It is a chrome extension that shows up when you open a new tab and tells you how many days, hours, minutes and seconds you have left before you’re expected death date…Pretty morbid.
Just remember that you won’t get time back, make each minute count!
Without a good process for managing multiple projects, it’s hard to know what work to prioritize, how to help your team effectively manage their workload, and if everything is all getting done on time.
Fortunately, there is a better way. Whether you’re struggling to organize and manage work across multiple projects or ensuring your team has a manageable workload, these strategies will help you keep everything on track.
There is a HUGE mistake people are doing when it comes to organizing their tasks. They try to figure out what they should be doing.
The fact is that planning is a humanly impossible task. There are simply too many variables to take into account to manage all possibilities and dependencies in our work.
Use a tool like planless.io that can do this job for you and ensure you always have the best organization in place.
You’ll stop wasting time thinking about what you should do next and just move forward knowing what is the most appropriate task for you to tackle next to move everything forward the best possible.
Business workflows are generally complex and a lot of time is spent on useless planning. Having a vision of your business over the next months is vital to be sure you achieve your goals.
Planning in the future will ease your job when it comes to defining the best things to do and what projects to start or not.
Use this in addition to an automated planning and workload management tool like planless and your business vision will take another dimension.
If you want your team to accept the plan, involve them. Defining responsibilities and priorities together makes people feel considered and they understand better why things are planned that way.
Using planless to automatically generate planning is a no brainer as for the increase of efficiency it will bring but that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be involved. The opposite actually. If everyone on your team updates the plan constantly, your plan will be much more exact than if a single person updates it.
What is a project? it isn’t only the work you have to do for your client but everything.
Setting up that new sales software? That’s a project. Expanding your network? Yep, that’s a project, too. Growing your business? That’s a collection of projects!
It is important that all of these come also into your projects list and planning.
We often forget to treat these things like projects and the amount of time they are taking from us and our teams.
When defining your yearly goals and splitting them up month by month, you should actually eliminate 3 months from your calendar.
Don’t put goals for these months and work your goals planning for the rest of the year.
Generally the 3 months people consider as low season are July/August/December. But that’s not necessarily the case for your business.
Don’t forget to take low seasons into account when planning your goals and work.
Get your teams and key people in your organization to buy into your strategy and planning process. If you don’t get people understanding the purpose and reasons for your plans you can’t have results. Don’t forget, you can’t get it done alone.
Don’t write your plan in stone. Good strategies are flexible, fluid, and agile. Don’t hesitate to change your plans as necessary. The world changes fast and so should you if it does not make sense.
Adopt a tool that can manage change for you and adapt your plans at any change. Try out planless.io and get the power of automated planning, resource allocation, and workload management to help you this time-consuming task.
If you fail to plan, you are by default planning to fail. Tip number one is to force yourself to plan no matter how painful and time consuming it may seem. Big business or small, planning is vital to your success.
There are tools like planless.io that can really simplify this task for you and make you save a lot of time. Use them…
Anticipate problems and provide preventive actions and contingency plans in important high-risk situations.
You need first to have a plan for that and to set deadlines for everything. If your plan constantly updates you should see risks coming and react to them before it’s too late.
In planless.io, as soon as a deadline starts to be at risk or in danger you’ll immediately know it and as planning is constantly updated automatically, you’ll never miss on these anymore.
If there is something in your work environment that is restricting you from achieving success, request a meeting with your superiors, and discuss the issue.
Come prepared and have a possible solution prepared before you go to the meeting. That way, they won’t just think that you are making excuses and you might actually get exactly what you want out of it!
There are so many great tools out there but you should find the ones that really simplify your life and give you results.
If you haven’t done it yet, try out planless.io and intelligent project management and collaboration platform that will plan work for you and give you all the tools you need to keep track of what matters while automatically managing the planning, task assignments, and people’s workload.
Choose the tools that work for you and gives your results, not the fancy ones.
Your project plan should be linked to your project team’s timesheet app. This means that as they work on tasks and make progress towards completing them, the schedule will automatically update to say that the work is underway. It’s a fast way of getting status updates where no one has to do any extra work.
In planless.io all of this is integrated and a timer starts. Automatically when someone starts working on something. All your team’s time tracking and project update in one place with no efforts.
Take a baseline of your plan. This is a snapshot in time. It’s useful because you can then look back and see what was originally agreed and how things have changed since then
Each task on your plan should be assigned to a person, rather than floating in the breeze with no accountability. That not only helps you understand who is doing what, it helps them see their complete work program and plan their time accordingly.
If you want that to take less time and be automatically managed for you, you should definitely look into planless.io.
The critical path is the shortest path through the project. If anything on this route changes, such as more work being added, then the project will take longer. If you know the tasks on the critical path, you can make sure that they don’t slow down so you will reach your end date as planned.
In planless.io, this is automatically managed for you but if you’re using other tools, keep an eye on your critical path and constantly adapt to keep your projects on track.
Dependencies are the way in which tasks link to each other (or projects or phases). Sometimes one task has to finish before another one can start. Or a task has to start at the same time as another task. It’s easy to add dependencies planless.io and it will automate the planning to show you how long the work will take once all the dependencies are taken into account.
If you are the only person who can update the plan, then more of the work falls to you. Find ways to let your trusted project team members update certain tasks so that you split the burden between you. This could be automatically through an interface (like planless.io) or directly into the plan itself.
Scope creep is where extra work is added to the plan in an uncontrolled way. Make sure that everyone on the team knows that all changes have to go through the formal process so that you don’t find yourself working on a never-ending project.
Make sure your plan is accessible to everyone on the team and involve your clients and partners. Someone will spot something that isn’t accurate, and together you will be able to work on it and get a better quality plan as a result.
planless.io lets you have all your team working on it and invite your clients/partners as viewers. You can control exactly what you can see and do what so that everything is under control.
We all lose so much time looking for a certain document or information. Like the right information and files to every part of your projects in a tool like planless.io will allow anyone on your team to find the right information at the right place and stop losing time looking for it under a pile of emails and other files.
Performance reviews should not be just an end of year appraisal. Instead, they should be about life, in the moment inspirational and developmental feedback and coaching every day. If you embed this culture, then the annual and half-yearly performance review should be the fastest and easiest conversation you have all year as the differences between perception and reality on performance have been continuously calibrated throughout the year.
Keep your knowledge constantly updated, trying to develop new capabilities and remaining flexible in terms of project management methodologies to use, etc. Things can change very rapidly in this field, and as the leader of your team, flexibility and a listening ear are most important to manage the risks and change.
Have you ever looked into planless.io? The new possibilities it offers in terms of how you manage your team’s work and your projects are something you should be aware of and would most probably be a very helpful new way of doing things for you.
Most of the time projects always have a common structure or are you have created a process that you always follow.
Create templates that you can use to quickly start a new project and add it to your planning.
In planless.io, we have a trick to create templates and when you’re ready to create a new project with one of them, your planning is automatically updated as soon as you add it. Ask us and we’ll show you how to do it and how powerful it is.
First, understand the work/culture/situation, and then make your moves/changes. PMs always want to do something new and different based on their experiences, which is a good thing but do it smartly.
You can’t just jump in and start making changes to the system without understanding it; every company has its own limitations, constraints, and culture. Make changes in such a way that they get absorbed in the right attitude.
Learn that project management can be as much about politics as handling projects. Remember that not everyone working on the project is actually for the project. Learn the motivations and intentions of not just your team, but also upwards to the stakeholders and business users.
Foster a culture where everyone’s ideas are heard to allow more innovation to take place. The added bonus is that the project team itself becomes a lot stronger — team members are far more open to suggesting and working through ideas if they know they’ll be heard, rather than thinking they’ll be shouted down all the time.
The methodologies are great if well-used, but they won’t work if you do not remember that you are working with other people. Human responses are not always logical or predictable.
At planless.io, AI can plan the work for you and your team but don’t forget your team needs to be involved in the usage on a daily basis so that things work out.
Technology is great but it’s only help.
Determine your specialization and go for it. The best thing you can do is to decide what sets you apart and make that shine. Remember you are turning concepts into realities and it takes creativity to get you there. Develop a thick skin and never fall in love with your first draft, no matter what it is.
When someone makes a suggestion, I like to follow up with background questions: When and under what circumstances have you implemented that in the past? Why was that approach successful? What made it more efficient, cost-effective, etc.? Then I broaden my scope of understanding.
Do not always look at things from a process perspective. Governance is important, but when it impedes progress then there is an issue.
Watch for ROLE creep, which is similar to scope creep in a project. In role creep, your role as a PM might be under constant pressure. This is because there are so many forces at work around a substantial project, especially in a non-projectized organization where there is no discipline to comply with standardized and repeatable project management processes.
There will be pressure to be innovative, be creative, and be an agent of change, and you will have managers asking you to list all your accomplishments. Your ultimate role is always to deliver what is in the WBS and project plan, use a designated process for scope change, risk monitoring, and issue management, and maintain good communication.
A PESTEL analysis or more recently named PESTELE is a framework or tool used to analyze and monitor the macro-environmental (external environment) factors that have an impact on an organization or a project. The result of which is used to identify threats and weaknesses which are used in a SWOT analysis.
PESTELE stands for:
P – Political
E – Economic
S – Social
T – Technological
E – Environmental
L – Legal
E – Ethical (NEW)
To know more about it follow this link: https://www.professionalacademy.com/blogs-and-advice/marketing-theories—pestel-analysis
During his work at the Stanford Research Institute (1960 – 1970), Albert Humphrey produced a team method for planning which was named SOFT analysis, this has developed into what we now know as a SWOT analysis which stands for:
S – Strengths
W – Weaknesses
O – Opportunities
T – Threats
The theory seems simple enough, you use it to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats that are involved in a project. You will specify the objective for the project and then identify the internal and external factors that will have a positive as well as a negative impact on the objective.
It is worth noting that you should set the final objective after completing the SWOT analysis. The reason for this is to ensure that the objectives are achievable and not unrealistic given the current internal and external environments.
More on it here: https://www.professionalacademy.com/blogs-and-advice/marketing-theories—swot-analysis
Before kicking off the project, connect with all the key stakeholders in 1-on-1 sessions to get their input on the project, their goals, their level of support, etc. This will uncover hidden “gotchas” and misalignment that may come up later if you don’t do this.
Getting stakeholder buy-in on the outcome and benefit of completing the project is more important than stakeholder acceptance of the scope, schedule, and budget.
If decision-makers believe in what the project will achieve, they will be more likely to accept changes to the scope and tolerances if you can show that it will lead to a better outcome. If all you’ve sold is a budget and a delivery date, you’re doomed to failure.
Failure is optional. Fail fast so you can recover quickly and learn.
A high percentage of projects fail because they don’t deliver what the business needs. Even when you have that nice 400-page requirements document that was signed off on, it does not mean everyone understands what is being delivered.
Gain as much experience in project management as you can. Books, theory, and concepts are all fine, but real-life situations are much tougher. The more you face these situations, the smarter you become. There is no better way to learn project management than to expose yourself to real-life situations.
Don’t give up. A Manager position is not a rewarding job every day. You have to work really hard to get things done, so you have to rely on your people skills a lot. (Keep those sharp!) In the end, you will persevere, and when the project finishes successfully, you will love that feeling of success.
As a project manager, you can talk all you want. But if you don’t walk the talk, then you’ll have a tough time motivating your team and keeping your project on track.
People will be looking at you throughout the whole journey. This means you’ll need to demonstrate excellent leadership, communication, and organizational skills – from start to finish.
Along the way, you might need to upskill in certain areas, or even admit to your limitations. However, this is all part of leading by example and making sure the project is carried out in the best way possible.
When it comes to project management, planning is one of the most important aspects. But great planning takes a lot of organization, forensic attention to detail, and the involvement of all your team.
Also, keep in mind that project priorities change during the course of a project. You’ll need to constantly revisit, reshape, and refine your plan to make sure you’re adjusting accordingly.
To help you with that, look at tools like planless.io to automatically adjust your plan when things change.
Old-fashioned project management methodologies don’t always work well in today’s fast-paced business environment. Naturally, new methodologies do.
Responsiveness to rapid changes is the name of the game, and the rise of Agile methodologies are a testament to this shift over the past 10 to 15 years.
Maybe you should look into the next thing and have a look at planless.io and new possibilities it offers.
The greatest project managers lead, they don’t cajole. They also understand their own limitations, have faith in their team, and try to steer clear of micromanagement.
Keeping management to a minimum will help give the project room to breathe, and ensure you’re hitting milestones and achieving deadlines.
Having a project fail isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important to learn from your mistakes and make the right changes going forward.
This is why feedback is so important. Encourage everyone involved in the project to express their opinions and concerns openly and honestly. This will help you avoid mistakes and make sure the next project is successful.
With so many responsibilities to take care of, you might not always be around to physically oversee things. But this doesn’t mean you’re not available to offer guidance or answer questions.
Communication is crucial to successful project management – between you, your team and your clients. The more open you are to communicate with everyone the more successful your project will be.
Use collaboration tools like slack or planless.io will ease your task.
How is the end result created on an assembly line? Simple – one step at a time. Breaking a project down into manageable parts will make it seem less intimidating and more achievable.
Approach each step in a logical manner, and get feedback and approvals along the way to make sure things stay on track.
In today’s landscape, a project is usually bound or “constrained” by three elements. This is called the Triple Constraint Triangle Theory – also known as the Iron Triangle in project management. It usually looks something like this:
Scope, time, budget
Scope, schedule, cost
Good, fast, cheap
As a project manager, it’s your job to not only balance these three variables (whatever they end up being), but to make sure you use them to your advantage to finish projects successfully.
You are hired to manage projects; your team is hired to be the technical expertise to deliver that project. Therefore, if they are telling you something, it’s usually a good idea to take in what they’re saying and, in some cases, challenge it. If you’re not technical, ask for clarification on points you genuinely don’t understand. You can also seek advice from colleagues who are more established as a technical project manager. That’s normally enough for technical teams to make them think through their explanations, so they’ll carry out an internal check to ensure their thinking is sound.
The only way a house can be constructed is if there is a strong foundation. The same is true of project planning; without meticulously studying the finer points, then you will not produce a solid project. Like a house without a stellar foundation, your project will wobble, sink, and inevitably implode.
So, to make sure planning is effective, you need to incorporate these tricks into your management:
One more thing: an in-depth project strategy should include the roles and responsibilities of each team member.
The dog is no longer man’s best friend. It is technology.
The business world has done an incredible job adapting to changing conditions, advancing digital tools, and maximizing these opportunities to maximize profit. Of course, there are some outliers, but most companies are utilizing the latest and best hardware and software to get the job done.
You, as a project manager, can do it too.
There is a lot of software out there that can complement your management style. The best program is something that combines collaboration, time management, communication, planning, and document sharing into a single ecosystem.
For sure, you may try planless.io and we’re pretty sure you’re like a lot, and unless any other tool, it will manage the planning, resource allocations, and people’s workload automatically for you so can focus on working the plan instead of planning the work.
In the end, it is important to perform an exhaustive review of the project. We’re not just talking about perusing the finished product and ensuring that every goal, need, and task was completed. Instead, you will need to examine every phase, assess each sub-phase, and perform introspection of your project management skills (were they the best they could be, or is there room for improvement?).
By reviewing the beginning, planning, executing, and closing, you can improve upon something, maintain its efficacy, or establish the best course of action.
Talk about profit growth, not budget; talk about time to market, not schedules; talk about opportunity, not risk. Research shows that senior management support is one of the most important factors in project success. – Paul Naybour, Parallel Project Training
An exceptional project manager maximizes transparency and doesn’t use information as a means of control. They communicate clearly, completely, and concisely, all the while giving others real information without fear of what they’ll do with it. – William Bauer, managing director at Royce Leather
Greg Smith, project manager at Brailsford & Dunlavey, says he often sees project managers get very set in their ways. They don’t talk about the importance of understanding who you are and where you could improve, and working to build different attributes.
Project management can be very result-driven, which is good. But if you deliver on the project objectives, much of the time you aren’t given feedback, or you don’t pay attention to constructive criticism. Instead, focus on being self-aware and accepting of criticism.
Successful projects require realistic expectations, built-in buffer time, and a backup plan.
Less than half of teams track their time. Due to this, it’s hard to establish accurate estimates for knowing how long a project will take or how many resource hours you’ll need.
By tracking your team’s time for the project, you’ll have a solid estimate of the average time-specific tasks take. You’ll know how much time projects took in the past, and you’ll be able to use that information to gauge the average speed of each team member for each project.
This is important when deciding how much time to allocate for each team member in the future.
This is probably the most important part which often gets overlooked. Many people feel they have thankless jobs, and compliments can make a person feel really good.
Go out of your way and thank them. Leave a positive review on their LinkedIn profile. Tell their boss what a great job they did. – Thomas Wooldridge, Relamark.com
Build in a buffer and follow up prior to your soft and hard deadlines. Human nature tends to wait for a deadline to begin a task. – Mike McRitchie, career and small business strategist
Look over the project plan each week and identify the gaps in your project. Pay attention to scope, time, cost, and where you should be via your deadlines and project objectives.
Once you identify the gaps, take the necessary actions to close them. Don’t let weeks or months go by where you do not deal with your gaps, or they may get too big to overcome. – Ben Snyder, Systemation
As project managers, it’s our job to give options. We will always be presented with the impossible, improbable, highly unlikely, and the completely unreasonable. It’s our job to figure out what can be done and provide options.
Lead with “yes.” Yes, you can move up the deadline… but it will require either a major reduction of scope and/or an increase in staffing. If you present all of the possible options and the impact, the asker can usually come up with the “no” answer on their own. – Liz Helbock, Events.com
External contractors are important to the delivery of small and large projects. All too often organizations don’t get contractors involved in projects until it is too late.
Inviting them to review the approach early can pay dividends with new ideas or innovative ways of delivering projects. – Paul Naybour, Parallel Project Training
Every new project manager confronts the issue of someone on your project missing a deadline or deliverable. Remember to communicate early and often with each person on your team to achieve the best results.
Sharing why the due date is the due date and what happens next has a huge, positive impact. – Gwendolyn Kestrel, Digital Advertising Works
To be a better project manager, you must be intimately familiar with each team member’s strengths and weaknesses. David Revees, project manager at Luxe Translation Services, takes time to familiarize himself with each person’s talents on his team.
By knowing who would and who wouldn’t be good for the job, he can better predict what challenges may arise.
It’s easy to obsess over time, budget, and scope management—after all, that’s our job! But beyond all that, project managers are there to help people.
We help both our teams and our clients stay on track, prevent them from getting overwhelmed, and protect them from opening cans of worms. – Rosie Brown, Sterling Communications
Don’t forget to plan approval times. That these approvals or internal or external, don’t omit to include them in your planning.
In planless.io, we use an APPROVAL team member with an APPROVAL skill to create tasks in between others (dependencies) and define the minimum and maximum amount of time we think the approval will take. That way our plans are always taking this into consideration and we won’t have people stuck on their work because they’re awaiting approval on something.
Always set a deadline when asking someone for approval, special with clients, and explain to them that their project will be delayed if you don’t get their feedback on time.
You need to make sure that everything is working fine for you and ensure that the project plan is followed. This is done constantly throughout the project timeline from start to finish. It helps in measuring the project performance and matching the results with your set targets.
You will need to set your concerned project KPI’s during the project planning stage, and need to monitor and control your actions to help meet your desired goals.
What happens when you and your team complete a milestone or victory, like completing the project ahead of schedule? It’s time for you and your team to celebrate.
One of the most popular ways to celebrate is by taking the team out to dinner and having a couple of celebratory drinks. You can also show signs of appreciation by knowing the team’s success during your next meeting, creating a brag board that highlights an exceptional team member, offering meaningful rewards, and simply just thanking them personally.
A project manager is not solely responsible for the success of a project, even if it sometimes feels like it. It’s important to rely on the expertise and support of others, particularly when you’re a new project manager. Keep your sponsor informed and engaged, and don’t be afraid to escalate problems to him or her.
For example, if you just lost a key project resource, your sponsor may be able to find you a replacement much quicker and easier than you can. It’s critical to build a team of competent people you can trust and rely on. Make use of subject matter experts and resources who have been on similar projects in the past. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for advice.
If your organization has a lessons learned database, do some research on similar past projects to better understand best practices, tips, and advice. You can also speak to other project managers who may have more experience in a particular area.
Doing kickoff meetings at the start of a project is very important and done wrong or not done often put a project at risk even before it started.
You can do it with your client and/or internally (I recommend both) and it should define everything that is necessary for the project to flow.
I recommend ready this article that explains this very well: https://thedigitalprojectmanager.com/project-kickoff-meeting/
There are a number of reasons why breaking down a large project is beneficial. It helps you to:
All of these benefits essentially arise from working with chunks of a project that you can accurately visualize rather than trying to digest and interpret a mysterious and overwhelming task in one fell swoop.
Further reading: https://www.lucidchart.com/blog/how-to-create-a-work-breakdown-structure-and-why-you-should
You do not have to be a formal project manager to lead a project initiative. However, you should apply the tools, logic, and steps of project management to clarify your objectives, detail the work, and build a team to execute while you manage it all.
When it comes to project management on a small team, it’s important to remember that everyone is a project manager. Everyone has to communicate and deliver work on time. Everyone has to work towards their small wins and the greater deadline.
Look for unexpected strengths in the people around you, and find the right people for the right tasks. Don’t put the person who always procrastinates in charge of enforcing deadlines.
Maybe put the server who always arrives early in charge of updating the project board. If one of your baristas is a natural communicator and establishes an easy rapport with customers, assign them the responsibility of checking in with other team members and making sure everyone is communicating effectively.
While you may be in charge of overall project management, make sure you’re assigning the right tasks to the right people for better productivity.
If your team needs to access client files, where do they go? You shouldn’t have to spend time emailing back and forth to chase down the latest version of a document or hunting down receipts in your glovebox. If you are, you could be wasting the equivalent of a full workday every week searching for information. Instead, save time by creating a clear filing system, whether digital or physical.
Google Drive and Dropbox offer free and paid file storage and sharing, and free apps like Shoeboxed can help track receipts and mileage on your phone. Project management software like planless.io also allows users to attach documents and edits to individual tasks. Like project planning, organizing resources may take more time on the frontend but will save you valuable time in the future.
To be a good project manager, it’s important, to be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot do. Can you really hold morning staff meetings, or are you usually onsite with clients? Do you thrive at planning out projects, or is it better to leave the small details to someone else? Are you better on the phone vs. email? Would you rather spend more time doing the work instead of managing?
The more you know about yourself going into the project management process, the better manager you can be for your employees and the better service you can provide to your customers. If there are skills you need to learn, consider taking free classes or joining an online community of other small business owners. Find out if your employees have outside passions or experience they can contribute. In small business, everyone wears multiple hats, but some fit better than others.
More than half of IT projects fail. One meta-analysis of failed projects concluded that a vast majority of IT projects fail because of process mistakes (45%) or people’s mistakes (43%).
If you’re dealing with technical work, one of the most important things you can do to improve your success rate is to use better scheduling and estimations. Technical work has a tendency to “bloat” beyond your original estimates, leading to budget inflation and delivery delays. It doesn’t help that the people involved in scheduling and estimating – project managers – often don’t have an understanding of the actual technical issues involved.
One way to solve this problem is to use developer-based estimating. This means giving over the reins to your development team and asking them to create a schedule. Since these are the people closest to the work, their estimates are liable to be more accurate.
Other ways to improve scheduling is to use algorithms such asplanless.io
A common cause of project failure is that important stakeholders and sponsors aren’t alerted to issues until it is too late. Problems that can be solved by senior people often linger at the bottom of the organization for fear of rebuke or censure.
You can combat this by creating an issue escalation process for the project.
Start by developing an issue escalation matrix as part of your project management plan.
This matrix should have two key components:
Besides the issue escalation matrix, there are a few other best practices you can adopt to ensure that issues are resolved correctly:
When escalating issues, identify the intensity of the problem, give contextual data, and offer suggestions on corrective measures.
You may not be a peppy cheerleader by nature, but every project needs a leader who owns and supports the process. A good project manager will enforce process and keep everyone on the team in-sync. Juggling timelines, deadlines, and deliverables are key, but a project manager who also supports the process, the team, and the client, brings true value to a project.
Be the one who says, “Wow, this is really nice. Good work”. Celebrate the wins and encourage the team to do the same. At the same time, don’t be afraid to be the one to say, “Did you think about X?” to look out for the best of the project and your team.
Successful project managers understand every aspect of the project and anticipate questions or concerns the client might have. This type of behavior not only supports your team and your project, but shows everyone involved that you are genuinely engaged, and not just worried about the PM basics.
You know what works for you. All the points above are tips and tricks that CAN improve your productivity but what WILL work for someone won’t necessarily work for you.
Try some of them out and listen to yourself. Find out the things that make you outperform and keep consistent with these habits.
We hope that some of these tips will be quite useful to you and if you have any suggestions to add a tip or trick here we will be very happy to add it. Just send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need any help in implementing these tips or if you want to bring your project management and planning to the next level, don’t hesitate to try out planless.io and even to book some free strategy sessions with us so we can help you personally!
Take care and don’t forget to share this if you liked it!
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