How to Stay Organized: Five Ways for Project Managers

During the entire history of humankind’s existence, we managed to come up with and successfully implement many projects, from the construction of Egyptian pyramids to self-driving cars invention. The most daring human undertakings required the coordinated work of thousands of people. And this implies a complex project management system.

Managing projects can be challenging. As well as managing the whole life. However, there are a few basic life hacks that will help you manage your projects more efficiently, stay organized and help your team maintain a productive state.

Develop a Skill to Set Clear Tasks and Delegate Properly

The ability to set tasks correctly and formulate them correctly is already half the effectiveness and the desired result. Interacting with the team, problems very often arise due to the fact that the manager sets tasks very vaguely, thinking that everyone understands him perfectly and reads his thoughts.

In reality, everything turns out differently. Moreover, a lot of projects are faced with deadlines failures, bugs, unjustified expectations of the customer only because the project manager was not able to set the task as accurately and unambiguously as possible.

Any unexpected situations gradually turn into an avalanche, and it is already impossible to remain organized in a state of total mess. And the root cause lies in the incorrect statement of the task. Therefore, the ability to formulate the task clearly and unambiguously is the first way to stay organized and maintain clarity of thought.

Besides the fact that you cannot afford ambiguous statements in the setting of tasks, you also need to clearly understand who to delegate them to. Or do not delegate. The next paragraph will be just about that.

Know the Responsibilities of Each Team Member

The development team will work effectively only when, firstly, each member of the team knows its scope of tasks within the framework of the current project, and secondly, as a project manager, you know the scope of tasks of each of the team members. You must know the responsibilities and related skills of each – this will give you the opportunity to delegate correctly.

In fact, the concept of team development was created precisely so that each person in the team would carry out their part of the work, and the project manager would remain the link between the technical specialists and the customer.

This is the second key to how to be organized – set the tasks correctly and delegate them to the right specialists within the framework of your project.

Always Match Your Expectations With Reality

You can admit it or not, but expectations are always a minefield, both for the customer and for the project manager. And in order to stay organized, you need to be able to correlate customer expectations, your personal expectations, and harsh reality.

Excessive expectations mean the impossible requirements that you make to your team. Low expectations mean a competitive product in the final result. Misunderstanding of customer expectations is usually synonymous with the inability to start the development problem.

Therefore, you need to be able to work properly with expectations – and in order to stay organized as well. As you can see, any discrepancy between expectations and reality has every chance of creating a mess that will become your headache later.

project management cycle

If the customer at the very initial stage makes too high and almost unrealistic requirements, then it is necessary to immediately work out this moment, explain why this or that idea is impossible in the form in which he dreams, and offer a worthy alternative.

If you have too high expectations for developers, for example, if you want them to create an application back-end in one day, then be prepared for the fact that you will provoke a mess, and in the end, you will be unhappy with the result.

In other words, the ability to always stay in reality and evaluate things and events soundly is another key to maintaining an organized state during the project development.

Use Automation and Scheduling Tools

And yet, the best way to stay organized is to have clear notes on the progress of the project. There are no clear instructions on what exactly you need to use – each of the tools has its own advantages and methods of application, depending on the specifics of the product.

Moreover, many of the tools that you will use are also determined by the project development methodology. Jira is ideal for creating products using the Agile methodology, while Waterfall projects of little and medium scale can be successfully managed even in Trello.

What is more, you need to be twice more organized when you are working with remote team members. Lack of personal contact can be a strong obstacle at the moment when you need to clearly set the task (yes, this is a reference to the first paragraph of our article). However, additional tools like Slack can make the remote teamwork more efficient and more easily manageable.

In this case, the key to staying organized and not interfering with the coordinated work of the remote team is to be able to correlate time zones, level the language and cultural barrier, and again, be able to see the line between expectations and reality.

Forecast and Anticipate Risks and Issues

A project manager is that person who should be able to see the whole picture, including the image that is hidden behind the horizon. In fact, our sense of organization and clarity of thought ends where unforeseen situations begin. In the development process, as in life in general, it is always easier to prevent than deal with the consequences.

Therefore, another way to stay organized is to be able to predict and anticipate possible situations when everything may go wrong. Sometimes these possible problems become visible even at the stage of the first conversation with the customer, sometimes everything goes smoothly until the release day, which gives a surprise to the whole team.

In other words, we cannot be organized in conditions of uncertainty — although minimal stability and predictability are necessary. And this is the skill that comes only with experience.

forecast risks project managers

Instead of a Conclusion

There are many ways that will lead to the successful completion of the project, but there are several principles that should be followed regardless of the type of project or the chosen methodology:

  • Update the plan in accordance with real progress
  • Keep track of completion dates.
  • Interact with team members daily
  • Encourage subordinates for quality and productive work
  • Keep design information in a safe place.

Of course, project management is a science, but not the most accurate science. This is not mathematics where everything is clear. In the field of project management, there are no unshakable foundations and universal solutions. If you can find a method that is perfect for your project – consider that you are very lucky. However, fortunately, the ways to stay organized are classic and universal for many industries, perhaps with little specifications for the development process.

Ana Mayer

This article was written by Ana Mayer, a project manager with 3+ years of experience. While projects can do without her participation (which means almost never), she likes to read and create expert academic materials for the Online Writers Rating review website. Such work gives her the opportunity to write articles on the most relevant topics of today.

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