July 23, 2017

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Tips on how to remain insanely productive at work

Productivity tips from industry experts

An article originally published by Proofhub, an online project management and collaboration tool designed to make teams more productive at whatever they do. And, being part of an industry where everything revolves around productivity, we are always on the lookout for productivity hacks, tips, tricks and other stuff that can make people more productive than they are right now.

We got in touch with some of the brainiacs of the project management industry to get an answer to the question What keeps their productivity levels high? We asked them about their secrets; the ones they follow to keep on being productive every single day. Do they have any magic potion that they sip-in daily or productivity is just a habit?

Project managers who shared their tips

  • Susanne Madsen, Project leadership coach. Author of ‘The Project Management Coaching Workbook’ and ‘The Power of Project Leadership’.
  • Elizabeth Harrin, Author of Social Media for Project Managers & Customer-Centric Project Management, Director of @otobosgroup.
  • Linky Van Der Merwe, Project Manager, Blogger, Adviser of recommended PM resources
  • Bert Heymans, Senior Project Manager
  • Peter Taylor, Project Management Speaker and Author
  • Tor, brain behind the award winning blog http://www.timemanagementchef.com/

Productivity Tips

As successful project managers, these professionals have quite a lot on their platter to share with people who are looking to make it big by being productive at their jobs. And, this is what they had to say –

Susanne Madsen @SusanneMadsen
Project leadership coach. Author of ‘The Project Management Coaching Workbook’ and ‘The Power of Project Leadership’.
  • Focus on your most important tasks single-minded
  • The best tip is to start the day with a clear intention on what you must absolutely complete and then focus on those tasks single-minded. Identify the activities that tend to disrupt your work, and find a way around them. You can for instance avoid checking emails and answering the phone when you’re in the middle of something important.
  • Discipline yourself to work on a task until it’s complete, as once you’ve broken your flow, it can be difficult to reestablish it.
  • Many of us multi-task and believe we’re effective when we do so; but evidence suggests that 96% of the population can’t effectively focus on more than one thing at a time. In order to stop multi-tasking, set specific time aside for meetings, returning calls and for doing detailed planning and analysis work at your desk. Whenever you find yourself multitasking, stop and sit quietly for a minute.
Elizabeth Harrin @pm4girls
Author of Social Media for Project Managers & Customer-Centric Project Management, Director of @otobosgroup.

Block meetings with yourself to do actual work. Otherwise you’ll end up in other people’s meetings all day and with no time to pick up your actions. Having time booked in your diary gives you the focus you need to sit down and complete a task, such as updating your risk log or reviewing your annual objectives.

Linky Van Der Merwe @virtualpm
Project Manager, Blogger, Adviser of recommended PM resource

Being a bit of an old-school project manager, I have two productivity tools that I use on a daily basis, because they work.

  • I use a hard-cover A-4 book to write down my planning for the week. This helps me to keep a certain work rhythm and not to miss anything important. Urgent and Important tasks are transferred to my calendar, like an appointment with myself. I can relax once it’s written down, because I know my week is not finished unless my weekly tasks are complete.
  • The other tool I cannot live without, is Microsoft’s OneNote. It’s part of the Office suite of applications, free on every PC/laptop when using MS Office. It’s like an electronic filing cabinet where I keep all my notes from various meetings, whether progress meetings, ad hoc meetings, discussion or workshops. It saves and syncs automatically with your windows live account; and is easy to share via email.
Bert Heymans @bertheymans
Senior Project Manager

These are the things that I found make a particular difference in my productivity:

  • Habits are everything.
  • Do the hardest thing first. (read the “Eat That Frog” book by Brian Tracy)
  • Work out! You can find numerous sources online where Richard Branson mentions this is his most significant productivity booster, and if it’s good for Richard Branson it’s good for me.
  • Recognize that procrastination is a symptom, not a cause.
  • Think positive, because thoughts become words and words become actions.
  • Recognize that we overestimate what we can do in one year, but underestimate what we can do in 5 years.
  • Talk to yourself in the present tense if you want to start doing something, say it out loud if you can (example: “I am cleaning out the garage”) Apparently this tricks your brain.
Peter Taylor @thelazypm
Project Management Speaker and Author

Always ask yourself three questions before taking action:

  • Do I want to do it?
    Don’t do something just because everyone else is or because it’s the ‘usual thing to do’. Just running with the pack is never going to allow you to take control of your own time and will only lead you into over-commitments.
  • Is the result worth my effort?
    Only do the things with the most impact. It is all about applying the good old 80/20 rule. What are the most critical things that you need to get involved in? What is the 20% that will deliver the 80% of value?
  • Do I have to do this myself?
    Ask yourself if you really are the best person to do whatever it is that needs to be done or is there someone else who is better qualified than you to do this thing? At every opportunity you must think your actions through to the end and aim to optimize the return on your personal investment.
Tor @TorRefsland
Brain behind the award winning blog http://www.timemanagementchef.com/
  1. Plan your day the night before
    The experts say that every minute spent in planning saves you 10 minutes in execution. In order to become super productive you should know EXACTLY which tasks you should be working on at any given time. How can this be achieved? To plan in advance. I would strongly recommend you to plan one week ahead. This will save you a ton of time. In addition, instead of just responding to other people’s requests, you will have control over your schedule and week.
  2. Use a master to do list
    You should only have ONE to do list, and it should be your master to do list. Why do I call it a master to do list? Because it will contain ALL the activities that you need to do. If the activities aren’t included in your master to do list, they won’t get done.
  3. Apply the ABCDE method and the 80/20 rule
    A tasks — are tasks that you must do today, if not they will give you serious consequences
    B tasks — are tasks that you should do today, if not they will give you mild consequences
    C tasks — are tasks that you could do today, if not they will give no consequences
    D tasks — are tasks you delegate to other people
    E tasks — are tasks you eliminate, you never do them

Use the 80/20 rule to identify your most important tasks, which will be your A tasks. Pareto’s law says that 20% of your tasks will result in 80% of the total production value. This means that if you have 10 tasks on your to do list today, and you ONLY complete the 2 most important tasks, they will give you 80% of the total result.

Studies have shown that most people are the most productive the first 2 hours after they get up from bed. That is why THAT time should be spent on your most important tasks. This may of course vary from individual to individual. Some people are the most productive during the evening, while others are night owls. The key is to find out WHEN you are the most productive, and then block that time out for your most important tasks.

Want to take your productivity to the next level? Sign up for our Free 30-Day Trial and see what you’ve been missing out on!


Originally published at blog.proofhub.com on February 8, 2016.

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10 Reasons Why There Is Always Need Of Project Management

By Shikha Menwal 

10 Reasons Why There Is Always Need Of Project ManagementAt some point you might have wondered: “Do I really need a project management for my company?” Well, project management is to business what food is to the body. The former is integral to the survival of the latter. So, there goes your answer! But what really makes project management such a crucial tool for thriving in the industry? The reasons are plenty, but here are some major points that make project management such a critical ingredient in the recipe for entrepreneurial success.

#1 To avoid the likelihood of reworking!

Who doesn’t like to get things done in the very first go? We all want to avoid reworking the same thing. According to a survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon, 70% – 85% of the total rework cost in projects occur due to the failure to specify all the requirements during the analysis phase. Also, 25%-40% of money gets wasted as a result of having to redo a major chunk of work.

Project management encourages collaboration. Collaboration helps enlist all the requirements right in the beginning when details are discussed. You can avoid do-overs altogether and get it right the very first time.

#2 Getting off on the right foot!

No one likes to hear things such as ‘could have’, ‘would have’, ‘should have’. With a strong work foundation, you won’t have to hear such statements. Project scope definition, statement of purpose, identifying business risks and limitations, and defining the objective of project; all this is part project management and will ensure that you get off on the right foot. Business analysis and project management let you make necessary adjustments in the plan and see if the scope of a project sounds feasible or not.

#3 Exercising control over change!

When running projects, get ready to deal with many changes in requirements because things are never as simple as they seem. This is where change management philosophy comes in. It allows managers to find an exhibit through various conflicting priorities. They are able to seamlessly integrate new changes into ongoing activities without disrupting the flow of work.

#4 Improved communication at all levels

According to one of the studies conducted by PMI, it has been observed that around 90% of problems in most projects arise due to lack of communication. With right project management, teams get to know their responsibilities, priorities, and what is expected from them. It would lay down simple and effective channels of communication. It helps to align everyone’s understanding of overall work.

#5 Documenting successes and failures

Learning never stops! This is the prime focus of project management. Project reviews documents the highlights where teams have excelled and the areas where they could have performed better. As the project reaches completion, both positives and negatives can be documented for future reference. A project manager would know which mistakes to avoid and what practices should be implemented that proved successful in the past. It’s like implementing learnings from one project for future endeavours.

#6 Selecting the optimal course of activities

There can be multiple ways to achieve the same output! But, a project manager needs to know which way is the most optimal one. A project is about implementing a series of activities in succession. But, which course of action is likely to have least possible constraints and challenges? Project management answers such questions and enables you to select the most optimal series of activities in the right sequence.

#7 For maintaining focus

Focus is the essence that makes the impossible possible. Someone who knows the art of project management inside out will keep everyone focused by helping them see the bigger picture. Project management leads the team towards the end goal. It wards off unnecessary distractions that team members might face. It’s the way to making sure that each and every thing in the process is properly planned, documented, and completed on schedule.

#8 Time and budget limit

Any project execution is challenging, because it needs to be done within certain constraints. Project managers define the deadlines and decide how much cost is likely to be incurred. Project management is about achieving goals while staying within the said timelines and budget.

#9 Keeps everyone posted!

We know that projects happen to be multi-dimensional. Several departments work collectively for the attainment of common goals. Lack of coordination brings chaos, which is the last thing a project needs. Project managers coordinate work across all the departments and ensure everyone is aware of the progress. When everyone is on the same page, communicating changes and discussing further details becomes easier.

#10 Prepares everyone for the unforeseen events

Projects are bound to come across multiple challenges and risks. Project management prepares everyone to handle most unexpected happenings in the most natural way. Being prepared for anything will keep you going in the right direction.

In conclusion, by inculcating project management principles and theories, project managers can streamline all the tasks and guide teams to work collectively towards a single goal.

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About the Author: Shikha Menwal is a writer at ProofHub. Her academic credentials include a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences. From lifestyle, to technology, and management, etc. she has written about myriad of industries in her writing career during the last three years.

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