As your agency grows, one of the benefits you’ll enjoy is getting a lot of projects. While it’s good to get these projects, the challenge is to consistently deliver quality work and meet those tight deadlines.
So how can you keep that delicate balance of delivering work that is both high-quality and timely? You apply principles of effective time management. Here are some suggestions.
1. Know What to Prioritize
It may sound like an obvious principle, but when you have a lot of projects (and clients) that want deliverables from you yesterday, it’s surprisingly easy to lose sight of which tasks need your immediate action. Take a step back, meet with the key team members involved, list down the tasks and the tasks within the tasks, then pinpoint which needs to be addressed the soonest. Without knowing what needs doing first, you won’t make any headway and you’ll easily miss deadlines.
2. Allocate Time for Projects
After you’ve determined which projects and tasks need to be tackled first and finished ASAP, devote reasonable amounts of time for their completion—and stick to it until the task is completed. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can juggle multiple projects or tasks and get them done simultaneously. You will likely end up turning in sub-par work for two or more projects, and may end up doing them all over again, not meeting the deadlines for both. Be clear that while you do these tasks, you aren’t to be distracted.
3. Stay Focused
In our constantly-media-bombarded, live-streaming world, it’s very easy to become distracted. Keep your phone on silent and keep your tablet away. Turn off notifications for your social media sites and personal emails. Stay off Facebook and don’t peek at Instagram. Leave the tweets for later. Stick to your devoted time for your tasks. If it means moving to a quieter area for you to focus, then do so. Do whatever you need to keep your head in the zone. Keep yourself zeroed-in to what needs to be done, and you’ll get more done in less time.
4. Delegate Tasks
Even if you know you can handle all the tasks on your plate, that’s not effective time management. Assign other tasks to other team members or suppliers when you can. It makes better sense to let other people do the work you don’t specialize in, especially if it’s time-consuming, like white label SEO, which you can outsource to an SEO reseller program. You should understand that delegating some tasks isn’t a license for you to slack off, but simply a way to get more work done in less time. Also, letting someone else take on part of the work means you still have to lead and supervise them.
5. Take a Step Back
It can be surprisingly easy to get lost in your work that you don’t realize you’re falling behind on your deadlines for a particular task. Check your progress every so often to know how far you’re getting, and to see if you’re on track. If you find yourself lagging behind, take steps to get yourself back up to speed. Don’t hesitate to seek assistance to get a task done faster if necessary.
6. Use Time Management Tools
You may be used to an old-school organizer or planner, along with an Excel file to map out timelines, but now the practice is for teams to use time management and communication tools. You can use Slack or Hubstaff to coordinate with the entire team and share files with everyone involved in your tasks with Google’s Dropbox or OneDrive. You can also use Timewave or Basecamp to keep track of the work progress, brainstorm on ideas, discuss tasks, and share files. The best part about these tools is that they can be free or don’t cost much to use.
7. Stay Flexible
Yes, we emphasized on prioritizing what needs to be done first and fast. Except sometimes, tasks that you thought could be done in a timeframe you set didn’t get done. Other team members have fallen behind. There’s an issue that needs to be addressed for task A as you’re working on task B. When things happen unexpectedly, you’ll have to deal with them as they pop up. Don’t be too rigid in your plan to get things done that you can’t drop what you’re doing to work on or fix whatever needs fixing. Make allowances for the unexpected and be flexible enough to deal with the nuances of having many projects.
8. Remain Organized
It’s important to be flexible and be able to deal with issues as they come up unexpectedly, but it’s also important to keep an organized system no matter what. Don’t mix up your data. Keep your projects separate, and have all your notes, data, progress reports, and whatever important materials on your project where you can get to them easily. Even if you’re working on complicated tasks, clear away your clutter. Work can get messy but clearing your desk and your desktop of excess can help you focus, avoid errors, and get things done faster.
9. Be Realistic
Apart from being flexible, being organized and staying focused, you must keep your expectations within reason. Don’t believe that the work or the process of getting things done will go 100% smoothly. Don’t be too pessimistic that things will go wrong, either. It’s not unusual for tasks to be completed with a few hitches. Manage yours and your colleagues’ expectations.
10. Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help
If you can delegate tasks to other team members or suppliers that you think can do it better and faster, you should have no problem asking for assistance. Working as a team and being part of a team means complementing each other’s strengths while helping each other overcome weaknesses.
When handling multiple projects, the actual first step is not to panic. Remember that this isn’t a one-person show, and there are other team members and third-party suppliers willing to do their share.
By staying focused, flexible, having a realistic mindset and using the tools and skills of the right people, managing your time when tackling multiple tasks shouldn’t be too overwhelming.