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Project management tips for everyday work
Traditionally, the management of projects is set apart from the management of day-to-day tasks.
In project management, the aim is always to achieve the project’s goal while working within the time and resource constraints and capitalising on those things that are available to you. Typically, project management takes place in five stages: initiation, planning, execution, controlling, and closing.
Read on for benefits of applying this process to your day-to-day tasks.
Sorting through emails and documents
Perhaps the five-step process may seem a bit extreme for organising emails or documents, but working out a good system for even so menial a task can make it go from a bane to a breeze. The initiation phase involves looking at what needs to be done and setting objectives for undertaking the project.
For this task, this would involve looking over the emails or documents that need sorting and getting a sense of how many there are and what they are. Since this is an everyday task, it is unlikely that you will have to undergo this phase every time, but a brief glance over what needs to be done will never hurt.
The second step is the most important one for this sort of task, and if you do it right then the final three steps should be painless. Planning is vital to any project, and when the task is to sort things, the best you can hope for is a well-planned mode of execution. In the initiation phase, you should have picked up on the different categories the emails or documents could fall into. Spend some time setting up anything that ought to be done before you begin to execute the task: create any folders that need creating, clean up any clutter that might get in your way, perhaps colour code if it suits the task and your personal style. If this stage is done effectively the first time round, then executing the task on a regular basis should be almost effortless.
Controlling and closing are not that important for these sorts of tasks, but it will pay to make sure, from time to time, that you are sticking to your plan and achieving your goals. It will also be beneficial to do a final check at the end, to make sure everything is where it ought to be and it will be easy to understand if you or someone else needs to come back to it at a later stage.
If you are in the type of position where you frequently have to schedule and run meetings, you will know what a nightmare this can be. If you have ever attended or held a poorly planned meeting, you will know how much of a boon a properly organised one can be.
Initiation will include looking over the objectives of the meeting – what you want people to be able to walk away with at the end of the meeting. Planning will involve making a concise but thorough list of topics that need to be covered, and assigning the appropriate time to the discussion of each topic. Again, if you have done the first two steps right, the execution should be seamless. Controlling is more important in this sort of task, as you need to ensure that your message is being effectively conveyed to your people, and that your execution doesn’t crumble under the pressure of things like nerves or conflict. Closing is also quite important, as it involves checking that everyone knows what they are to do once the meeting has lapsed.
Managing your daily workloads
Sitting down at the beginning of each day and drawing up a good plan is a brilliant way to ensure that things get done well and on time. Managing your time is obviously a vital part of your workday, as it is with any project that needs management.
Making sure you have planned out your day before you get going, and maintaining control over your objectives as you undertake to achieve them, might prove to be the difference between leaving work on time and leaving three hours late, or working on the weekend. Closing your daily tasks is also important, as it gives you time to reflect and make sure that everything is done, and go over what will need to be done the following day.
The part-time University of Cape Town Project Administration short course starts on 12 September 2011. Visit www.GetSmarter.co.za for more information about the course.
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