How Project Managers Can Stay Focused? 🎯
As project managers, we have to multitask daily: monitor team assignments, finalize projects, meet deadlines, onboard new projects, and more. An overwhelming amount of work and constant distractions such as email notifications and excess noise dissipate our attention, making us unable to focus on high-priority tasks. All these activities are pulling our attention in many directions, making us anxious, stressed, and unable to focus.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the most effective strategies to maintain focus and the highest performance throughout the day.
According to the research conducted by Udemy, 70% of employees feel distracted at work, with 16% stating that they’re almost always distracted in their workplaces. So, most of us struggle with workplace distractions on a daily basis.
70% of employees feel distracted at work
Researchers at the University of California found out that a typical office worker gets only 11 minutes between each interruption, while it takes about 25 minutes to return to the task. That’s how 5 minutes to check Facebook turn into a 30-minute distraction. So, to maintain the highest focus and concentration, you need to block out social media, turn off notifications, and allocate time to check only work-related matters.
It takes about 25 minutes to return to the task after the interruption
Excess noise is another underestimated distractor. Whether it is just some office noise or it comes from chatty coworkers, noise impairs cognition, leads to disturbing emotions, and reduces productivity. If this is the case, you may want to invest in noise-reduction headphones and listen to relaxing music in the workplace.
Set SMART Goals
SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Specific goals answer the five W’s: who, what, why, where, and which. Who is going to achieve this goal? What project management tools will you use? Why is the goal important? Where will you track the progress? Which human or physical resources will you use? You may have a different set of questions starting with the five W’s, but they nonetheless will give more structure to your goal vision.
Measurable goals mean breaking down your goal into quantifiable elements or milestones. Progress assessment helps you stay focused, meet deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.
Achievable goals are challenging but not outrageous. You should have enough time and knowledge to get it done. So make sure the goal is not out of reach or below standard performance.
Relevant goals are consistent with higher-level goals and related to your company’s vision and strategy. Does the goal seem worthwhile? Does it match other needs and efforts? Is this the right time to finish this goal?
Time-bound goals have a clear deadline. Every goal should have a target date so that you have a clear deadline and work towards it. Give yourself a realistic time frame for accomplishing the smaller goals that will lead you to the final objective.
Know Your Limits
When it comes to workload, sometimes we overestimate ourselves and sign up for an overwhelming amount of work. But when we function in this high-paced mode day after day, it drains our energy, motivation, and focus and can finally lead to burnout. Studies show that about two-thirds of full-time workers experience burnout at work. Project managers with all the multitasking and responsibility are especially at risk.
About two-thirds of full-time workers experience burnout at work
To prevent burnout, you need to delegate a part of the workload to your subordinates. Many think of delegating as shifting responsibility to other team members, but it’s not how it works. You need to provide instructions, communicate your expectations, set milestones and deadlines, monitor the progress and provide support. If you take this approach, you can effectively teach your team members new skills and rely on them next time when you feel overwhelmed.
When you have to deal with a high workload daily, you lose energy, focus, and motivation to keep going. So it’s essential to take regular breaks and do some stretches or have a walk. If you feel overstretched and unable to concentrate, take a burnout test, and ask for time off to recover. To gain more resistance to stress and improve focus, consider including morning exercises, gym, or swimming sessions in your daily schedule.
Fatigue often causes a decrease in motivation and morale. To help your team and yourself stay encouraged, create a chat or organize short meetings to celebrate milestones and achievements. Another good practice is to create an achievement list at the end of the day and recite your accomplishments throughout the day.
Use Time Tracking Software
Every business requires effective time management to keep it afloat. It’s a known fact that time tracking makes employees more disciplined and improves their productivity by 80%. With time trackers, managers can set up time estimates and compare them against the actual time spent, gather statistics, and use it to enhance project management processes.
Time tracking makes employees more disciplined and improves their productivity by 80%
You might be surprised, but many modern companies still use old-school Excel sheets to deal with time calculations, which is ineffective, time-consuming, and inaccurate. The software market offers dozens of affordable solutions for the teams of all sizes, so we strongly recommend that you implement one into your management processes.
To meet the needs of every company, we created actiTIME — a web-based timesheet tool that covers most time and project management needs.
First of all, actiTIME is a handy time tracker that allows you to gather analytics and reports. Managers may use charts and spreadsheets to identify bottlenecks, improve the workflow, and maximize productivity. All analytics is available for download in CSV and PDF formats. That way, managers may share it with their superiors and CEOs.
This tool also allows managers to set up a workflow that meets the company’s needs and standards. Customize the work level structure, add task estimates and deadlines, assign tasks to team members according to their responsibilities, and use statuses to monitor the work process.
With actiTIME mobile timesheet tool, you and your subordinates can use in-built timers and manual submissions to track time from any Android or iOS device. It also offers weekly and monthly overviews of tracked work hours and overtime, so that you and your subordinates keep track of their work time.
actiTIME Chrome extension is another tool for automating time tracking processes. Pick the task, start time tracking, and stop the timer when you are done. All your time submissions and synced with the web-based software and your mobile app.