Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Dealing With the Stress of Project Management

Project Management is a stressful and demanding position. In a typical agency, a Project Manager is often caught between the end client, the internal development team, and their own senior management group. The job can be compared to juggling - there are always multiple things to tend to, and if you drop one ball, you'll tend to drop them all. Deadlines, quotes, scope creep, resourcing and quality are a few examples of issues that will require constant attention. The pace rarely slows but the demands often increase. So how can a Project Manager cope with the stress day after day? Below are a few simple tactics.

Focus: Multi-tasking is a part of daily life, and the key to working through a variety of responsibilities is to focus on a single item at a time. Not only will this ensure you give adequate attention to each item on your plate, it will reduce your sense of being overwhelmed by breaking down your to-do list into smaller, more manageable chunks. Looking at the big picture doesn't always work - when you're multi-tasking, the big picture can be discouraging. Remember - you can only accomplish one thing at a time. Create to-do lists and prioritize each task for yourself. Make this a habit and stick with it. As new items get added to your list, re-prioritize and focus.

Delegate: Project Managers are universally bad at delegating. Most are perfectionists who would rather do everything alone. It's important that you utilize the team around you and assign the most appropriate resource to the tasks at hand. You may be surprised at how much there is to learn from the larger team - consider everyone a subject matter expert in their own area. Engaging the team will increase their sense of responsibility and ownership, resulting in a better end product, no matter what the deliverable is.

Balance: As the saying goes, all work and no play makes for a very dull PM. Keep a work-life balance by enjoying your time out of the office. Whenever possible, leave at a reasonable time and spend the evening however you wish. Make dinner or go for drinks - whatever you choose, do it out of the office! It's easy to stay at work later and later, hoping to get further ahead. Instead, try to improve your time management skills by focusing and delegating. Being happy outside of the office will help feel happier when you're in the office.

The tactics may seem simple, but taking a few small steps towards curbing stress may save your sanity. Project Management can be a very rewarding career for those who are able to handle to demands. Make your health a priority and incorporate the strategies above into your regular routine.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post! While the concepts are basic and easy to understand, they are often difficult to implement, however once mastered, the results are invaluable. Definitely something to keep in mind.