10 Steps to Stay Organized at Work and Manage Projects Better
Whether you are managing your first project or you have experience managing multiple projects successfully, the requirements for a successful project are the same. You have to manage a lot of activities, organize your project team to achieve the project goals, and answer to project stakeholders.
As a project manager, there are several dangers to your project’s health you have to guard against such as scope creep, miscommunication, interpersonal conflict, poor project planning, and incomplete documentation.
Although no project management template can eliminate all these challenges, staying organized gives you an edge. Staying organized at work helps you manage your projects better. One of the best qualities every manager needs to have is organization skills.
In this article, you will learn 10 steps to stay organized and manage your projects better for maximum results.
Let’s get started.
1. Use of Project Management Software
You can organize your work and manage your projects effectively with the use of project management software. A project management software tool is an application that grants users the ability to plan and manage projects effectively.
This software affords project managers the ability to assign various tasks to the project team and track the progress of the tasks assigned. You can improve the work environment with project management tools as they help you manage projects more efficiently and in a more organized and orderly manner.
Project management software employs a variety of top features such as project planning and scheduling, budgeting, team collaboration, time tracking, reporting, and bills & quotes.
Many project management software tools usually offer special user engagement and enhancement packages such as free plans, free trials, and tutorials, to make the user experience seamless and less complicated.
According to a popular survey, about 16% of companies are currently making appropriate use of project management applications relating to their specific area of specialization. This statistic is quite alarming especially due to the general conception that project management software is the most efficient tool for effective communication.
You can attribute the lack of adoption of appropriate project management software to several factors such as lack of trust and misunderstanding. Many organizations still prefer to manage their projects by using spreadsheets.
While spreadsheets are a good option for small and uncomplicated projects, they can be a disaster for large and complex projects. The use of spreadsheets comes with several disadvantages such as the inability to track time or the progress of the project in real-time.
The benefits organizations tend to gain from using project management software are mouthwatering.
- Effortless project planning
- Improved team collaboration
- Pipeline forecasting
- Real-time project budget management
- Efficient resource and time management
- Real-time reporting
- Effective communication
- Effective task delegation
- Enhanced productivity
- Better organization
- Enhanced customer satisfaction
Some of the best web-based project management software to help you organize and manage your projects better include Monday.com, ClickUp, Wrike, Teamwork, Smartsheet, and Scoro.
2. Creating a Project Plan
For a very organized project, the first step is to create a good project. A good project plan saves time and costs in the long run. Creating a good project plan is essential for running a successful and well-organized project.
Planning is a huge deciding factor in the success or failure of any project. A project plan is a document that details how to execute, monitor, and manage a project from start to finish. It is a map detailing how to implement the whole project.
The project initiation stage of the project management life cycle is where you create the project plan. A project plan should be flexible and give room for changes in the case of uneventful and unforeseen occurrences.
You can only measure the quality and effectiveness of a project plan by the success of the project. As the popular saying goes, the end justifies the means.
A good project plan should point out the objectives and scope of the project and the timeframe for their achievement. You can regard the project plan as an official point of reference for the project team. It should visibly show the project’s budget, time frame, roles, and management plan for each individual making up the project team.
Creating a good project plan helps to keep a high level of organization among the project team as well as improve the overall management of the project.
3. Creating a Project Schedule
A project schedule is a detailed list of events providing information on various factors such as project responsibilities, plans, goals, and budget within a specified time frame. Using project scheduling software such as Monday.com, ClickUp, and Wrike helps save time and improves the overall efficiency of the project.
The project manager is responsible for creating a project schedule. Constraints in time and the inability to keep tabs on every event make it essential to create and use a project schedule to organize the project.
Investing in project scheduling tools is important. This helps keep track of the entire project process, including each project member's roles and responsibilities. Project scheduling tools also help in tracking the progress of events taking place in the project process.
You can use project scheduling tools to efficiently share notifications of upcoming projects events as well as information of changes in the project process. A good project schedule is a list of events within a specific timeline on how to implement a project and its processes.
The project schedule is an essential part of the entire project plan and it usually includes specific information such as the project budget and goals within a certain time frame.
In the case of complex project structures, it is usually helpful to first organize tasks in a work breakdown structure. A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a chart that shows projects alongside their tasks and if the case warrants, further sub-tasks.
After successfully listing the entire tasks you want to carry out during the entirety of the project process, create a sequence of all the tasks with tasks dependent on other tasks arranged accordingly. Carry out an estimation of the time and resources required based on the scheduling of the project and compare this result with the initial budget and timeline.
Upon successful completion of the project schedule and plan, implement project management strategies to complement the already laid out plan. These project management strategies work hand in hand with project management tools in a bid to aid communication among members of a project team.
Combining both helps to track all the activities of each member of the project team. The best plans are useless if the project execution is poor and inadequate. Good management strategies and the right project management tools result in an organized project.
4. Working with Deadlines
You can not overemphasize the importance of setting a deadline or a time limit for a project. One of the reasons why projects fail is because of the lack of deadlines or abused ones.
The essence of a deadline is to create a sense of consciousness and awareness on the side of project members on the need to work in line with the already existing project plan and time frame.
Having a set deadline for your task and the entire project helps in fostering better organization among project stakeholders.
Deadline also leads to a better understanding of the importance of achieving set goals. They can also act as a source of motivation for project members as it inspires a sense of urgency on the need to organize the scarce resources of time to achieve the set-out task.
There is a need to carry all members of the project team along with the deadline in a bid to avoid project failure. Although not all members of the project team will see a need for deadlines, they are necessary.
You need to put them in place to keep track of the project success rate while also keeping tabs on the project member’s responsibilities towards the project.
Deadlines should not focus on the overall project goals alone, but deadlines for each project individual should be put in place as well. This helps in holding every member of the project team accountable daily depending on the set goals.
Working with deadlines also gives a clear picture of what to expect of each project stakeholder at different stages of the project process. It also helps to ensure every member of the project does not misplace their priorities and focus fully on the completion of the project within the set time frame.
Set challenging and tasking deadlines aimed at pushing each member of the project team to their limits. Do this to test the capabilities of each member and their ability to adapt to difficult situations with limited resources.
This process leads to innovative and creative thinking by members of the project team aimed at overcoming the challenge set. Setting impossible and unrealistic deadlines on the other hand tends to hurt the general morale of project members.
5. Defining Priorities
The act of defining priorities is top on the list of how to stay organized and manage projects better. Without clearly defining priorities, you will struggle to organize and manage the projects properly. Clearly defining priorities is important as it eventually tends to favor all stakeholders involved in the project process.
Having a clear list of priorities helps keep track of the results expected both individually from project stakeholders and in general from the project team as a whole.
Keeping a well-detailed project list helps the project team in their quest to successfully execute each set goal and objectives more efficiently through carefully selected steps.
A setlist of what to achieve without clearly defining the priority in which to attend to the list is inefficient. Often, there is not enough consideration placed on setting priorities and this often leads to loss of time, energy, and resources.
In a bid to organize work and projects, place special emphasis on defining what is important and ordering the project list in an order of importance based on the project goals and objectives. Lack of properly defined priorities is the biggest breeder of chaos in a project workspace. Avoid this at all costs.
6. Clear and Effective Communication with Your Team and Stakeholders
Communication is crucial in project management. Clear communication involves regular and in-touch communication during the duration of the project process. It involves subjecting every issue or question that arises along the project process to careful and in-depth scrutiny.
Stakeholders involved in the project process need to be in constant and clear communication with each other to ensure they do not lose sight of the project’s goals and objectives.
For stakeholders willing to work together in a particular space on predetermined goals and objectives, trust is paramount in the course of carrying out daily activities. Trust and understanding are key determining factors among group members seeking to work together on a specific project.
Communication, understanding, and organization are three major underlying factors that work together for the overall success of a project. Effective and clear communication gives room for the strengthening of bonds and interpersonal relationships among team members.
According to the Project Management Institute, you can attribute about 20 percent of failed projects to a lack of clear and effective communication. It is not only enough to be in constant communication, the communication has to be effective to have an impact on the overall outcome of the project.
The project manager is responsible for deciding the kind of communication model to implement for the project. He or she ensures there is no breach of the communication model implemented by all project stakeholders.
7. Delegating Tasks and Responsibilities
The project manager is responsible for dividing set tasks and responsibilities among various stakeholders involved in the project process. There will be considerable ease in carrying out various activities if every member of the team gets delegated tasks and responsibilities and follows through with them.
Knowing each project team member’s strengths and weaknesses is crucial when delegating work packages. This ensures that you assign the right people the right tasks that meet their various requirements.
The concept of delegation of responsibilities ensures that every member of the project team plays a significant role in the overall successful outcome of the project.
Delegating tasks and responsibilities go beyond just breaking down large and lofty goals into smaller milestones. It also entails the distribution of the divided goals to the right people to ensure a proper balance of events throughout the entirety of the project’s process.
Delegation of tasks also affords the project manager the opportunity of having more time and energy to focus on more important issues bothering the project process. Doing this avails the project manager the opportunity to keep tabs on various project stakeholders and track progress levels as regards the tasks assigned.
8. Use of Project Management Templates to Save Time
Project management templates are resources that save you time and effort by improving the way you manage tasks, teams, and projects. Some tasks are tedious and may need to be repeated at certain stages of the project process. This is where project management templates come in.
These project management templates tend to relieve project managers of stress. The use of project management templates helps lessen the stress factor involved in the project by simply re-organizing it. They help the project manager organize thoughts and ideas which makes it easy to comprehend for other project stakeholders.
There are lots of websites that offer a variety of quality and easy-to-use free project management templates. Choose the best and most efficient project management templates that are the right fit for your project needs.
1. Project Tracker Template
2. Project Budget Template
3. Project Timesheet Template
4. Issue Tracker Template
5. Project Risk Template
6. Gantt Chart Template
7. Project Status Report Template
8. Project Communication Plan Template
9. Project Charter Template
9. Organization of Workflows with Digital Kanban Boards
The Kanban board is an essential visual system tasked mainly with the responsibility of organizing workflows. A digital Kanban board has on display various items, each item represented by a card which can then be interchanged across rows and columns.
Each row or column represents various stages of the project’s team workflow. This setting allows for the naming of each row and column to suit the project’s manager’s needs.
Many organizations use the Kanban board system due to its ability to meet the needs of different organizations. The Kanban system, if properly implemented, has the singular ability to prevent lots of major issues often faced by project managers.
You can use virtual Kanban cards as a means of representing pre-accomplished tasks which are essentially part of a larger project in the digital workspace. This feature affords anyone on the project team the ability to oversee the project. Project members' task schedules and timelines are visible on the Kanban board.
The Kanban board has numerous advantages. One of the advantages is its application of work-in-progress limits which affords project managers the possibility of specifying a maximum number of tasks still in progress at a given time. This feature helps project managers to keep tabs on their priorities and reduces the occurrence of inefficient multitasking.
10. Regular Measurement of Progress
Dividing larger goals into smaller milestones helps project managers keep track of project progress better while under the constraint of deadlines. This affords project managers the luxury of delivering on the set objectives at a careful and unpressured pace.
Doing this is a win-win situation for project members. It allows them to celebrate small achievements as regards the smaller milestones set as part of the project.
Emphasize both short-term and long-term goals when setting milestones. The goal of setting milestones is to split large singular goals into smaller and more manageable goals.
Setting specific attainable goals also helps the project members perform better as a team. The essence of making project management reports is to have an idea of your project team’s performance.
Measuring the project’s progress regularly gives project managers the ability to tweak plans and make considerable changes when there is considerable derailment from the set goals and objectives.
Having a forehand knowledge of your team’s organization and progress level is seemingly impossible without project progress measurement strategies in place.
Regular and rigorous tracking of the progress made by the project team is important. Project managers can use it to measure the project team efforts against the overall project goals and objectives.