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10 Tips for New Project Managers

10 Tips for New Project Managers

Organization and routine are two crucial aspects for increasing efficiency, so if you want to be a project manager, you should focus on improving those two. Being a project manager is so much more than stamping deadlines and assigning tasks to your co-workers.

It’s all about puzzling out the most favourable approach to handling the project with maximum efficiency. In a way, you should be more of a tactician than a task master. Here are some suggestions you might find useful if you intend on being a successful project manager.

Find a good approach to tasks

Finding the right approach to a certain task is all about good segmentation; how to divide the project into a smaller wholes so that you can track your progression on a daily basis, and also how to tackle the task so that the workload is evenly distributed. It’s impossible to get a handle on this on your first try, but, gradually, you’ll find a good way to divide copious tasks.

Learn how to lead

Even though you are not the boss, you still need to be a leader. In other words, you might not have the necessary authority, but you still need to guide projects. This is why working as a project manager can be difficult; people might regard you as someone who is trying to be an employer’s pet.

Furthermore, you need to figure out how to put people in a productive mood. This is where a lot of managers tend to make a mistake. They force themselves to appear vibrant, hoping the enthusiasm will pass on to their co-workers. This is something that teachers and professors try to do in order to animate students during morning lectures.

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Big mistake! People will think you are treating them as children and they will find it really annoying. Probably the best thing you can do to start off on right terms in the morning is to offer to make coffee for everyone.

The important thing to remember here is to allow your co-workers to see that you know what you are doing. So, ooze confidence and experience like a true leader should and, in spite of your actual rank, people will see you as someone trustworthy.

Communicate

This is one of the most important traits, because in order to be good at planning, you need to know the capabilities of your workforce, or co-workers. It is also a nice way to show that you are still their co-worker, not someone who is trying to act above them.

The main objective is to ascertain just how someone goes about their tasks, and the time necessary for their completion. This gives you a better grip on reality when you need to come up with a deadline, and when you need to segment the task, as it was discussed in the paragraph above.

Learn the basics

In order to be good at management, you need to know the basics of the production process, this way, you’ll have a better sense of what is possible and what isn’t. Besides, you need to have a clear insight into what you are managing.

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So, being well informed should be one of the requirements for becoming a manger. Furthermore, it will give you a better idea on how to enhance the production process and increase productivity.

Work on your empathy

One way not to appear bossy to your co-workers is by practicing empathy. Empathy plays a great role in developing social intelligence. So it’s always good to work on your people skills if you want to be a good manager. Being more empathetic can help you figure out how someone is feeling at a given moment.

Of course, this does not imply it is your duty to solve their problems, but as a project manager you are managing more than projects, you are managing people as well. So, for the purpose of good planning it’s good to know someone’s working capacity, at a particular period. It’s good to know if you might have to implement contingency plan, or to ask for deadline to be moved a bit, just in case there is a possible delay.

Plan ahead

Panic, pressure and deadline rush are all very potent tools for surge of productivity, yet working in these stressful conditions is extremely harmful. As a project manager, you should steer clear from telling your co-workers the accurate deadline, always leave some space in case things go south.

When you segment the task, as mentioned at the beginning, do it in such a way that you have a few days to spare, in case you need to do some additional work. This is the most optimal way to reduce scope creeps, which will be elaborated on further in a different section.

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Be a team player

In spite of the fact that you are in charge of the project, you and your co-workers need to function as a unit, in order to achieve positive results. This implies that you are equal as teammates, and if they need to be open to your suggestions and criticism, you should return the favour.

Therefore, if a co-worker makes a valid point when he or she corrects you, do not be too proud to acknowledge their opinion. It is within your interest that projects are successfully delivered, so everyone should work on self-improvement. Besides, everyone can benefit from some healthy criticism.

Embrace your responsibilities

One thing that every successful project manager should realize is that there is no room for excuses. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to regard the projects as your own, not as work you do for someone else. With that in mind, whenever a failure occurs, it is your personal failure; shifting the blame to others is no way to go about this issue.

Sure, you might know who is to blame for failure, but taking responsibility means taking the blame as well; you were in charge, so you need to take the heat as well. Pointing fingers just makes you look incompetent. You need to be a mediator between your boss and your co-workers, and if you want your team to trust you, then you need to stand up for them.

Don’t shy away from learning new things

Another thing you should know is that delivering a product on time won’t be enough, you need to aim higher and improve in your main field of interest. This makes you a better leader and a better coordinator. Furthermore, as you advance it motivates those around you not to fall behind, so they will follow this example.

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Once you know the basics of every aspect of the production process, make some time to expand your knowledge base. If you truly love what you are doing, then you should always strive to be better at it, and as project manager, you need a wide range of interests.

Minimize scope creeps

Scope creeps are unforeseen circumstances that tend to hinder project delivery. They usually occur if project instructions lack sufficient details, due to poor requirements analysis or, to put it bluntly, if you underestimate the complexity of the project.

We have already mentioned how good task segmentation and deadline management can minimize these risks, but you also need a thorough analysis of the project, you need to set your priorities accurately, and you need to adequately distribute resources.

I hope you found these suggestions useful, and I wish you the best of luck in your future adventures in project management. Remember that quality tactics are essential for impeccable execution. Just follow these tips and I am sure you’ll do fine.

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Djordje Todorovic

Blogger, Gamer Extraordinaire

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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