Are you a procrastinator? We are not all procrastinators, but MANY of us procrastinate at least some of the time. The challenge is that when you combine procrastination with the typical responsibilities of a project manager, you are setting yourself up for some very long and difficult days.
Maybe you just don’t have enough time in your day. Or you put off the tasks you consider to be boring or unpleasant. You have your reasons. And you have the best project management practices to help you before you procrastinate in a no-win situation. Use project management to define and prioritize your scope of duties. You have a long list of work to complete. Do you know the difference between what you MUST do and what you would LIKE to do?
Prioritize your work and respond to the items that fulfill strategic needs first. And in addition to priority, consider your constraints. Scope, schedule, budget? Since we are talking about procrastination, your constraint is likely time. You might be perceived as a procrastinator when you have too much to do, not enough time (or a lack of motivation). You can circumvent this by making others aware of your workload and priorities. In this way, your sponsor and other stakeholders will understand more about your work and see that you are on top of it. You are not procrastinating; you are following a strategic list of priorities.
By the way, as you look at that giant to-do list, have you considered whether or not some of that work can be delegated to others?
What if you know what you need to do and when but don’t want to do the work? Find a way to take tasks you do not enjoy and sandwich them in-between tasks you do enjoy. Or reward yourself for completing something unpleasant. A break, or a walk, something positive and enjoyable – but nothing that is unhealthy, expensive, or overly time-consuming.
How will you know if you can complete your work on time? Create better estimates! You know your best estimate comes from prior experiences. You perform similar tasks across the many projects that you manage. Draw on your experience to create accurate estimates. And do NOT assume that because you completed a similar task, you will do it more quickly this time.
Consider the critical path. In addition to handling strategic items first, pay attention to the critical path of each of your projects. If your team needs something from you to move forward, make sure you respond to your team before you become the reason for a project delay.
Revisit your plans often. Projects change, sponsors change priorities, and your work as a project manager is dynamic. A regular review of your priorities, your constraints, and the demands on your time will keep you well-organized. Now, consider – can you keep up with the demands on your time? No? Are YOU procrastinating or based on your organization and estimates, overbooked?