Operational Excellence

Work Smart, Not Hard: Reduce Stress With Creative PM

by Ron Ause, May 13, 2016

No matter the size or scope of the agency, it seems as if you can always pinpoint the overstretched, overtaxed employee. It’s not that they’re necessarily overworked. It’s that they’re always running from task to task, always checking their email, always making a phone call, or always running an errand.

These are usually the people who subscribe to the fallacy that “staying busy” means they’re working hard. And while that may be true to a certain extent, there’s a fine line between authentic and mindless productivity. And usually, the latter leads to wasted time and effort.

Time management isn’t about useless checklists and overloading your day with menial tasks—it’s about simplifying how your team works, increasing efficiency, and relieving stress. In an attempt to work smarter, not harder, it’s important to reduce stress with effective creative project management.

Below are some quick tips for working smarter, not harder – and still crossing off every item on your to do list:

Complete the most important tasks first.

If there ever was a golden rule of time management, then it’s this. Before the day begins, have your employees identify the two or three most crucial tasks on their dockets. And have them focus on completing these first.

Learn to say “no.”

Saying “yes” to every request from managers, coworkers, and stakeholders is a surefire way to burn yourself out. While it’s important to take care of business, and balance both internal and external requests, you need to learn how to prioritize—and politely decline.

Stop multitasking

In case you missed it: multitasking is a myth.

And switching from task to task is an easy way to lose focus on all work. Stop letting your work suffer, and single-task your way through the workday. Close all browser windows, keep your phone silent and out of sight, put in headphones and rock your favorite neoclassical composer. In short, do what you need to do to focus. Concentrate on one task—and completely immerse yourself in it.

Do less

This may be impossible for type-A personalities to accept. Essentially, however, doing less is just another way of saying “do the things that really matter.” Aim to accomplish fewer things that create more value, rather than more things that honestly, just don’t matter all that much.

Automate the little things

What’s a shared similarity between time sheets, invoices, and expense reports? Yes, they’re all tedious. And they’re also all crucial to creative project management. But they can also all be automated. By utilizing robust ad agency software to automate processes, the important details just got a whole lot easier to swallow.

Set accurate estimates

As PM, part of your responsibility is to set realistic estimates for your project team to work off of. Be sure that they can complete tasks within the established parameters. And utilize time tracking and monitoring tools to ensure that they’re staying on top of things.

Maintain and update efficient project schedules

While establishing effective schedules is crucial, it’s equally important to maintain and update them. Automated project management software makes sure that  project schedules are updated in real-time as soon as tasks are completed. Less time wasted on administrative work means more time doing your job.


About The Author

Ron began a career in the software industry at 13, while working with his father. He's become an expert in job cost and project management for creative teams.

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