5 simple PM strategies to streamline your workdays

Project managers face an over-abundance of meetings, tasks, paperwork, obstacles, and administrative headaches. It can be overwhelming and frustrating when yet one more task is added to your to-do list. Working smarter has taken on a new meaning, necessitating the need for simple strategies to streamline workdays. Here are five simple ways to increase productivity and decrease stress.


1. Identify work dependencies

Take some time to clearly identify dependencies in workflows in order to help prioritize project activities. This alone can greatly assist employees at all levels in simplifying their workloads.

Ensure you are not holding up the progress of other individuals as this is not an ideal use of your time, nor theirs. What may seem like an inconsequential task within your day may actually delay significant tasks required of other stakeholders and result in far-reaching consequences. Be courteous and recognize the bigger picture, as this can assist you in not only simplifying workload decisions but also in helping to fortify a positive team environment where other members are also willing to help streamline your workload.


2. Prioritize based on key business objectives

All project management related activities should always align with key business goals. Try to identify exactly how your meetings and related activities achieve such, as well as how the business would be impacted if you did not complete these. Determine risks, rewards and outcomes for the particular activity or meeting.

If an activity can be completed in a relatively short period of time, yet derives sufficient benefit, it may be worthwhile to complete it right away and cross it off your list. Conversely, if a task requires a significant amount of your time and energy, yet yields less than sufficient benefit, it may be one that should be deferred. The intent here is to prioritize project activities and meetings based on the impact to, or obtainment of, key business objectives. Those tasks that can be tied directly to company goals are likely a priority.


3. Know your weaknesses and delegate accordingly

Spend time focusing your efforts on your strengths, and delegate areas of weakness to others who excel in that space. Even top project managers cannot do everything, nor can they be in multiple places at one time.

Delegation is not an indicator of failure. To the contrary, successful project managers recognize their strong suits and know when to engage other experts for specific work in order to move things along in the appropriate time and manner. Collaboration skills and dependency on the strengths of others enables and enhances end results in a way that achieves optimal benefits in a timelier manner.


4. Keep it simple

Maximize the use of technology, tools and processes whenever and wherever possible to reduce manual workarounds and unnecessary heavy lifting. Project management can be an all-encompassing field on a good day, necessitating the need for as much automation and business process improvement as possible. This field is complex enough without over-complication. In project management, time is always of the essence, making simplicity your best friend.


5. Master time management

At the end of each day, set aside at least 15 minutes to quickly assess and list the status of the current day’s undertakings in order to calendar the remaining tasks for the next day. Take a look at your calendar and incorporate the critical tasks from the current day that need to be carried forward. All activities that are not critical might need to be completed at a later date, assuming these are not dependencies for other individuals.

When scheduling meetings, make sure all meetings remain on schedule by completing an itinerary that can be sent to all participants in advance, and make sure to assign a timekeeper. Try to keep all meetings to 50 minutes whenever possible. Keep the remaining 10 minutes for administrative tasks following the meeting. Whether meetings or actual work, 50 minutes allows for maximum use of solidly focused time, with an additional 10 minutes for rejuvenation and re-focusing. This helps reduce the chances of diminishing returns.


Post by Moira Alexander

Moira Alexander is the Founder & President of Lead-Her-Ship Group and a Co-founder and Director, Information Systems & Technology Advisory at Conture Business Advisors, PS. She's also a project management and IT freelance columnist for various publications and a contributor for the Price of Business Talk Radio 1110 KTEK (Home of Bloomberg Radio), Houston, TX. She has 20+ years in business, (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the U.S. and Canada. To find out more about Moira, go to www.leadhershipgroup.biz and www.contureadvisors.com.