Managing a project can be a juggling act. There are always tasks to work on, other peoples’ tasks to track and external teams to coordinate. Therefore, it is imperative that a project manager develop and maintain skills to become an organized project manager.
The to do list
An organized project manager has a plan, not only for the project, but for each day. Whether she uses a paper notepad, a spreadsheet, or a software app, the tasks for the day should be planned for each day.
The project plan has many tasks as inputs to the to-do list. But tasks come up every day from meetings, conversations, and the natural course of daily routine. If the project manager doesn’t have a to-do list to keep track of everything that needs to be done, it will likely fall through the cracks.
Having a to-do list is well and good, but it could cause the project manager to be even more disorganized if the tasks are not prioritized well. An organized project manager will analyze all tasks that need to be done and prioritize the list so that the most important items are addressed first.
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Having a prioritized to-do list will get a project manager well on her way to being organized. But as a day progresses, other, more urgent issues may come along. Priorities can change due to a meeting or a decision. An organized project manager must have the flexibility to put aside tasks that were top priority when other, more urgent or important tasks come up.
Laser beam focus on the project purpose
In order to prioritize effectively, a project manager needs to know what is important. The project purpose, as stated in the Project Charter, should be the driving force behind what gets done and how tasks are prioritized.
Too often, project managers develop their list of things to do, prioritize them, and stubbornly stick to that list, without regard to why they come to work every day. Every time a new task is added to the to-do list, the project manager should keep the project purpose in mind to determine the appropriate sequencing and prioritization.
A filing system
Throughout a project, a project manager will receive emails as well as documents in paper and electronic form. Many of them may need to be referred back to at various times during the project.
A system of categorized folders and subfolders for paper documents, electronic documents, and emails will allow the project manager to easily find them when needed. Using the same categories and subcategories for all three types will increase the project manager’s efficiency.
Having people skills doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re always nice and easy to get along with. A project manager with people skills is not confrontational, but is able to confront team members to have a difficult conversation. Some PMs avoid confrontation and allow issues to fester. A project manager with people skills addresses an issue before it becomes a major problem.
Confronting issues almost always means doing it face-to-face. Some project managers may think that sending an email to an individual or to a team will allow them to address the issue without confrontation. This will not effectively resolve an issue, causing it to perpetuate. The project manager will continue to spend time on this and other issues that haven’t been effectively addressed.
More time is wasted not dealing with people issues, than on confronting and resolving the issue early.
An organized project manager works more efficiently by getting the right things done at the right time. She knows her priorities and makes adjustments accordingly. Additionally, an organized project manager is effective in dealing with people issues before allowing them to get out of hand and spending more time than is necessary.
What other ways do you use to stay organized?
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