“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.” Don Marquis
Did you read the quote above and think, “Yesterday? I would be happy to be caught up with last Thursday?” This might be the perfect time to take a look at 5 project management best practices and how they can help you.
1) Define and prioritize your scope. Let’s talk about the scope of your effort for a minute. Are all of the one million and one things you have to do must-haves or nice-to-haves? Now be honest. Maybe you have over-allocated yourself and part of that over-allocation stems from a lack of scope prioritization. Get clear about what it is you really need to accomplish and understand the priorities. Remember that there is a difference between something that is urgent and something that is important. If something is BOTH urgent and important, it goes to the top of the list.
2) Know your constraints. If time is your biggest driver right now then you want to make sure that you are only doing the tasks that absolutely have to be completed by a specific date and time. Remove all of the other unnecessary items from your list. If you cannot let them go, put them aside and work on them AFTER you complete the must-haves. How do you know? If you completed your scope prioritization then you should be able to quickly identify where your time should be spent.
3) Create better estimates. Now that you have narrowed your scope down to the must-haves, I hope you will accurately estimate how long each of your tasks will take. Your best estimates will come from your experience. If you have done something before you can use your previous experience to create an estimate. Do not assume that because you did something before you can do it much more faster now. Yes, you can expect to become better and faster but be reasonable.
4) Understand your critical path. Take the time to truly understand the order in which your tasks should be completed. That’s right, I am talking about sequencing and estimating and critical path. It is easy when you are busy and stressed to run from task to task. You know that does not make sense. Take the time to plan your tasks in the correct order. As you can see our five project management best practices are meant to work together, with each one building on the previous one.
5) Revisit your plan. Now that you have your tasks estimated and sequenced and mapped out, can you reasonably complete them with the time you have available? If the answer is no, something has to give. You might need to revisit your scope, you might need to get some help or you might need to change your end date. What you do not need to do is to run yourself into the ground.
If you are working on today’s list or even working ahead to tomorrow or next week, right on. You are making project management work for you.