Meredith Schneider for Hive
Project managers have a lot more than just ensuring tasks get sorted to the correct teams and projects are completed by determined deadlines. They are consistently innovating for their company, finding ways to increase efficiency, focus, and interest in the task at hand. Workload management is a huge piece of what they do for any given company.
Whether your company is lucky enough to have a dedicated project management person or team, workload management could be key to how you operate your day-to-day. Taking on too much work and not pacing yourself or your workload correctly are two big factors in how–and when–your work is completed.
The ability to assess any given project or task and assign it to team members based on skillset and availability is at the core of the workload management process. Ideally, a project manager is dedicated to this task because they can take a bird’s eye view of the company. They are able to see and understand the way people process work, and any obstacles various colleagues may be facing and can reassess everything at a moment’s notice. They are also responsible for measuring individual and group KPIs, tracking performance, and predicting what team or specific professional would make the most impact on certain parts of each project.
Workload management and time management, however, are not the same thing. While time management can factor into this process, workload management is actually a very strategic method that utilizes company and industry statistics and estimations to enable everyone the ability to balance their demands and meet deadlines.
Whether your company has a dedicated project management team or not, there are some key things you can do as an employee in any department to optimize your own workload management. These tips will also keep you aware of how you present within your company and industry and may enlighten you on strengths (and some weaknesses) that could drastically affect your performance.
To start, you will want to analyze your current workload. Is there room to take on more tasks? Are there specific projects you have time for, versus other, more time-consuming work?
If you are a project manager or tasked with project management in your role at any given company, you may be asked to analyze the workload of not only yourself but your team or even more people. Make sure your analysis includes due dates. If you are not entirely familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of your colleagues, speaking with their managers or directly with them could help shine a light on how best to assign everything.
Be sure to check individual calendars when conducting your analysis. You may have the perfect person in mind for a task, but they might not have the bandwidth to work with you by the deadline in mind. With ebbs and flows, you can learn more about how everyone thrives in their individual environments and begin to more intuitively assign work.
In most cases, assigning an entire project to one person will not be the optimal move. This is where lists come in handy. Dividing each current or impending project into subtasks is key to sourcing responsible parties.
This part of the process could feel like a giant time suck, but doing the work at the beginning can help set you up for success. It keeps you aware of each moving part that needs to be handled before the project can be complete. It can also help you more easily identify your colleagues’ zones of genius.
A large piece of successful workload management is ensuring you are not too overly optimistic about a project. Sure, you may be able to complete a task at the speed of light. Maybe you have worked with many people in the same capacity throughout an impressive tenure in your industry. However, resource buffers can be a game-changer.
Start with scheduling time buffers. While you may tell yourself or your colleague that a certain due date is Friday, perhaps the official calendar or client understanding is that everything will be complete by Wednesday the following week. This way, if it is all prepared you can wrap it up with a big bow and send it over early, effectively surprising and delighting your clients.
Other buffers include scheduling task reminders, assigning someone as a backup if the task isn’t getting handled or requires collaboration and so much more. Allowing everyone to have as much help as possible can instill trust in the team and value in the company.
While multitasking is largely talented as a strength in many communities, it can be a hindrance when you are working on specific tasks or with a multitude of clients. In fact, it could be reducing your ability to perform at work. Keeping yourself in the brain space of one project at a time can help you get set into the client or project’s needs. It allows your brain to dedicate time to focus on delivering, and oftentimes innovating in the space. Here are some great task prioritization techniques to get you started.
As with most work, tracking your time – be it within your company’s technology or with your timer or an app on your computer – is key. Learning about your own habits can help you strategize how to batch your work, schedule your meals, and any other items that could effectively put a wrench in your workflow. If you find you are less efficient at some tasks, maybe someone else on the team has lightning speed when it comes to that particular ask. Track your time, and then collaborate on best practices. Then, everyone wins.
If any of the tasks at hand can be automated, look into creating that process. Once again, it can feel very time-consuming when you are implementing automation. Checking back through former processes, reading up on simplification hacks, and creating a more efficient community is a daunting task. However, once it is complete, there is minimal upkeep required and your team will ultimately save time.
At the end of the day, the work you do and projects you have a hand in are a reflection of your abilities. But you cannot prioritize perfectionism on every task or with every project. If tasks have been distributed properly according to talents and bandwidth, your eyes won’t be the only set to assess the work.
Having buffers in place, automation and scheduling outlines will help get more eyes on the project before it launches or goes to the next round within your company. If it is game time and you’re nervous, ask a colleague to take a look at your work as you are wrapping up. Trust the process and trust your own work enough to not worry about the small details.
© 2022 Fairygodboss