In project management, results are what really matter. You didn’t get into this field because you want to go to work and just “look busy” for 8 hours. You crave efficiency and productivity. Here are 7 tips to help you do achieve that.
1. Prioritize and Take Action
Only work on what’s most important. This may seem intuitive. But it’s actually really easy to get into the habit of taking care of minor tasks first to “get them out of the way” so you can focus on the critical stuff. If you have ten tasks to accomplish today, evaluate how each one should be weighted for importance. You might find that 8 of them are nonessential but you could get them all done today if you work hard. The other 2 are essential but it would take all day just to address those two items. Getting 80% of the items on your list ticked off may look good on paper. It doesn’t mean you’re actually being productive. Put the most vital tasks at the top of your list and address those first.
2. Revisit Goal Setting Daily
Physically putting your goals in writing each day is one way to reinforce both the why and the how of your productivity in project management. Be specific and include both work and general life goals on your list. This is separate from your daily “to do” list. So, focus on your top 3-5 long term objectives. For example
- Take the lead on the next major multi-million dollar project at my company
- Pay off my house mortgage by 2017 (5 years ahead of schedule)
- Learn to speak Italian in preparation for my vacation next summer
- Put $5000 extra dollars in my child’s education fund over the next 12 months
This practice allows you to take a step back and determine whether your daily activities are taking you closer to or further away from your goals. Visualizing what you expect your future to look like is also a powerful motivator to keep you working.
3. Get Your R & R
Rest and Recreation should be interspersed with your work schedule – not reserved for the weekends. After you have completed the critical tasks on your list, take a break. Use this time to exercise, eat a gourmet meal complete with freshly harvested vegetables, listen to music, or engage in any other activities that feed your mind, body, or soul. Taking a time out reduces stress and self-care pays off in better focus and enjoyment while you are working.
4. R & R Revisited
This time it’s about Rewards and Recognition. Tie your true productivity (the completion of tasks that actually matter) to some type of prize. In project management, you know how to reward and praise your team when they deliver results. Do the same for yourself. No one is so “mature” or self motivated that they don’t need positive reinforcement.
5. Do What You Hate
Ideally, your career should be something you love. But there are always going to be some tasks within your job description that you absolutely loathe. If you put these off, the rest of your work may slow down to a crawl as you try to avoid the inevitable. Anxiety doesn’t lessen the longer you put off an unpleasant task – it just gets worse. So, do the things you dislike early in the day to relieve yourself of that burden.
6. Reinforce Your Boundaries
Refuse to take on other people’s work. There are two kinds of coworkers who ask you to do work for them. The people in the first group are really swamped and need to learn better time and task management skills. The people in the second group are just lazy. Neither one of these issues are yours to resolve. The best thing you can do is set an example of what good productivity looks like by getting your work done.
7. Stop Juggling
If you need to get several things accomplished in short period of time, schedule an allotted number of minutes for each task. Then focus completely on the task at hand for each segment of time. This will prevent you from making the errors that typically come with multitasking.