Personal Acceleration: Five Ways to Get More Done Each Day

clock-head-tinyThere are many methods you  you can use to get more done each day and here a few suggestions that are simple and effective and won’t cost more money.  In many projects, it may be a task or resource scheduling that prevents completion but the one area with the most control is how much you can accomplish in a day and for most people we are not even tapping into the potential that you have. Here are some ideas to make sure you are operating effectively while managing your projects.
Do Things You’re Best At
Do things at which you excel or no one else can do. The better you are in a key skill area the more you can accomplish.  Because you are better at these tasks  you will be able to get them done with less effort and have fun doing them.  It is important to become relentless at evaluating what work you are doing and who else on team can accomplish that type of work. Identifying what can be eliminated from your day and delegating will create more time and space so you can do your genius work and produce the highest impact and value from your activities.
Work Harder
Work harder than you are working today. You may be thinking this is not possible but it is.  If you can create an environment that allows you to have greater focus you will be able to work with greater intensity and accomplish more.  Being able to focuse without  distraction is a learned skill.  If you think about it, how often does that happen?  Usually you are on phone, email, instant messenger and not focusing on the strategic plan and follow through to make sure resources clearly understand work and will finish early.  You can work harder than anyone else, which is a key to great success that will pay back dividends.

Work Faster
You can work faster.  If you pushed the gas pedal down a little more, what is result?  Small changes in your speed will get it done faster and others will respond faster as well in work they are doing.  As leader of a project, you can develop a faster tempo that will carry through the whole team and often drive a higher commitment to accomplishing work faster.    By focusing on speed, you will need to cut time down on tasks and eliminates a lot of the factor of people waiting till a due date to finish work.  Its adopting a “get it done now” attitude and eliminating distractions.  When you combine working harder and working faster, you can get more done in a single day than most people get done in a week.

Batch your Tasks
You can batch your tasks as in manufacturing theory it is more productive and more is produced. It eliminates the constant shift from start and stop on different activities. By batching and getting like activities done together you can take advantage of learning curve and efficiencies that you can employ to get tasks done.
Make Fewer Mistakes
To get more done, you can focus on doing it right the first time.  You’ve heard it said, “there is never enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over.”  Take the time to make sure you have latest info and its understood clearly what is needed. Redoing work is never fun and causes frustration.  This can be as simple as verifying you have the latest version of file, validating the analysis or test criteria, checking on design requirements with customer or what ever is relevant to your work. One of the best time management techniques is to do it right the first time.

As leader of your team, it is important you continue to use strategies to boost output and accelerate work as others on the team will learn and model from your habits. Small improvements made across a team of 30 people  drives large boost in overall team output. Take action now and implement an improvement today.

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Dealing with Difficult People

An interesting and useful post on Dealing with Difficult people from the Think Simple Now Blog. Some of the key points are below but check out the full post now. http://thinksimplenow.com/happiness/dealing-with-difficult-people/

In every project and through your day, you will encounter that person and situation that you need to decide how to respond.  There are many practical suggestions in this post on dealing with those difficult encounters. Review and pick a few to try when the next event in your project needs to be managed. Employing these techniques can smoothe the way and help you to decide when a response is and is not apporpriate. Becoming a master at managing difficult persons and situations will only lead you to manage high payoff projects for high impact results.

Here are some tips for dealing with a difficult person or negative message:

1.Forgive

2. Wait it Out

3. “Does it really matter if I am right?

4. Don’t Respond

5. Stop Talking About It

6. Be In Their Shoes

7. Look for the Lessons

8. Choose to Eliminate Negative People In Your Life

9. Become the Observer

10. Go for a Run … or a swim, or some other workout.

11. Worst Case Scenario

12. Avoid Heated Discussions

13. Most Important

14. Pour Honey

15. Express It

Project Tips: Learn to use “No” to keep projects on track

At Project Connections, here is a very practical article for learning and using the word “No”. The common default is that PM want to do it all but that is recipe for failure. In order to boost the success rate of your projects and ensure high payoff results, staying focused and using the hardest word will help you get there. This requires courage to use it and stop saying “yes” to impossible or “yes, but…”  that is misleading to the person hearing it. Read the full post for some practical tips in

The Hardest Word in the Project Management Vocabulary,  by Carl Pritchard, PMP, EVP  at link below

http://blog.projectconnections.com/carl_pritchard/2008/05/the-hardest-wor.html

Project Tips: 9 Ways to reset expectations

One of the activities that any program or project manager must do is keep expectations in line with project deliverables. The perception or view of project success or failure is based on what people expect to be accomplished versus what actually is. Here are some quick tips to use.

  1. Manage to communicate, communicate, communicate throughout the entire project
  2. Always do what you say you’re going to do!
  3. Don’t ignore any warning signs, dig into concerns and make sure they are addressed.
  4. Keeping the project schedules and issues logs current, and review them with your team regularly.
  5. Manage changes and communicate them out timely
  6. Manage risks in the project, have owner and mitigation/ action plans to address and let others know there is attention to managing them
  7. Listen to your team! Don’t shoot anyone for raising red flags and challenging questions.
  8. Escalate major issues when you need to, whether to a steering committee, management, or other stakeholders.
  9. Continue to set expectations, reset expectations and calibrate all players as appropriate.

How To Celebrate Success Throughout Your Projects

There are many tough times in projects, stress, challenges that one of the often overlooked things is to celebrate success! What does that mean? Well average people don’t usually want others to go beyond average, but high performing project leaders want the team to go beyond great! It is so easy to go after the problems and issues with the team as that is where energy is easily focused. However, what do you want more of – great results or challenges? It is true what the age old principle is that you get more of what you focus on!

Working with a project team is a blast for me! I thrive on the energy, collaboration that comes from focused organization and working towards a shared goal. Frequently, the same qualities that prevent people from achieving success – jealousy, scarcity mind set, fear impact how they view other’s success and their reaction to it. It is a waste of time to constantly compare yourself to others as it only holds you back. I know for me when I have that cheering committee I work harder and faster so from this lesson is a critical principle to apply in your projects – Celebrate Success Often.

The next principle is Champion Success of Team Members. It is all too often the harsh reality that when something great happens, and you turn to share the news others are not supportive and the shock of nobody sharing my excitement is a surprise. It is deflating emotionally. It is important to take the moments to privately and in public to recognize and congratulate small wins, steps along the way. Many programs and projects can be a year or longer so keeping the momentum is critical with frequent celebrations along the way.

Not everyone views accomplishment and successes the same way. As a leader, you need to be willing to take different perspective and view success the way others do and not just the way you do. Be especially careful, when someone achieves something important to them even if you have done it before. Be sure to celebrate and recognize accomplishments with enthusiasm and don’t steal their thunder.

Now to some practical ways to celebrate success

Informal Rewards/ No Cost – congratulations, personal notes, cards, caught doing something great card, note from senior manager

Low Cost Rewards – certificate, movie tickets, starbucks, half day off, event tickets, flowers, lunch

Other Types – Incentive trips, gift certificates, cash bonus, promotions

These are just a few ways, and there are many books you can refer to on development of other ideas. The key principles to use to make sure the team member feels the result of recognition was that they are noticed and cared for. If you don’t delivery in a way that is significant it is not contributing to your project success.

1. Emphasize success rather than failure. Focus on catching people doing the “right things”.

2. Timing is critical. Recognize efforts all throughout a project and reward as close to possible to results you want repeated. Strive to have a clear link between results and rewards.

3. Deliver recognition in an open publicized way. If not made public, recognition loses much of its impact that it can have.

The key is to remember to be the cheerleader and recognize contributions all along the journey of your project. Use these ideas to be creative with low cost ways to build up the team members and cheer successes frequently!

5 Avoidable Problems in your Project

Here are some of the common problems that plague projects that will hopefully bring awareness more quickly when they start to occur so you can put strategies and focus to correct quickly and be back on track to delivering a high payoff project on time.

  1. Lose focus on who the real customer is and what will make them happy. You need to be relentlessly focused on who your customer is and what they demand. In both small and large projects, it is easy to fall into the trap of internal objectives, scope decisions that are not what the customer would do. This is a common mistake of great PM’s. When project success matters, it serves me to focus the team and project relentlessly on what the customer is asking for.
  2. Communication flow in all directions through team, stakeholders, customers, sponsors. For successful communication plans, it is important to collaborate with the project team, customers, end users, sponsors for all impacted groups and type of information that needs to flow. It is not always your job to push communication but bottom line is you are responsible to make sure it happens and its timely and effective. It is proven statistic that it takes multiple times, in multiple methods to get the message across. Error on the side of too much than not enough as it only builds trust and alignment and contributes to gaining successful support along the way.
  3. Jump into execution mode without gaining alignment, common expectations and creating plans. This is often the default for new PM but even the most experienced can fall victim. Take the time to map out the “board” of decision makers, who has influence and what you need to go to gain support. Build relationships and alignment to the project goals so there are common expectations and clear objectives. The next step is to build a plan. Taking the time to plan will reduce time later that results in thrash in implementation activities.
  4. Lack of focus and strategic priorities agreed to. This can lead to trying to do too much at the same time. As the leader of the project it is your job to keep focus of the team on the right areas, remove obstacles and ensure successful payoff at end of project. This takes ruthless prioritization, this means working with the customer to be realistic when you see conflicts, making trade-off decisions and driving clear priorities that are aligned.
  5. Lack of anticipation of change, future needs and the inevitable change that will occur in any project. Every project has changes, but it is easy to get caught up in the great plan that you have developed rather than all the factors that impact it. Take the time to brainstorm, gather feedback from experts on where trouble areas may be, what scenarios could occur, and anticipate what alternatives would be to stay on track. Your customers are depending on it and being prepared with a plan is critical.

What other problems have you encountered along your project journey’s?