“I live and die by my calendar.”
If you’re a project manager, work in operations or administration, you might live out the statement above. If you don’t do any of these things, you might have rolled your eyes. It’s OK – we can still be friends.
Working at an agency requires you to split your time between projects, work with multiple teams and switch between clients within an hour. Then, let’s throw in some obstacles (like when a client requests a service not outlined in their contract or when a team member comes down with the flu) that threaten to ruin your reputation as “Master Scheduler.” It can be difficult to not get your wires crossed, but it’s possible to stay afloat when your deadlines are approaching.
Check out the top three ways I stay on task in the midst of a scheduling crisis.
1. Get lost in those details, girl (or boy).
Completion of a project is the pinnacle of your work. There’s nothing sweeter than checking something off of your to-do list, closing a job and marking the invoice paid. But first, project manager, your job is to make sure your team completes the project by the deadline, within hours and on budget.
To win at scheduling, be as detailed on your to-do lists (personal and team) as possible. Think through a project from start to finish and organize each stepping stone, or subtask, with a deadline as soon as possible. Remember to add the little things that seem like a no-brainer to you, but may be overlooked in the project’s process. To avoid disappointment and frustration down the road, plan each deadline with the person assigned to the task. Nobody knows their workload better than them. Most importantly, OVERCOMMUNICATE everything to the client and to your team.
2. Use the resources you’re given. Adapt. Learn. Embrace.
Change is hard, but if your company is investing in new systems, give them a chance. If you’re having frustrations with your current systems, ask questions. Four out of five times, my dilemmas are solved by asking our director of operations how to make things more efficient. She spends the most time in our project management software and could teach a class on the silly questions I’ve asked. Play around in the platform, customize it and get feedback from your team.
3. Creatives are people, too.
Deadlines are only good if they’re attainable. As mentioned before, develop deadlines with your creative team. We use a “creative grid” as a way to see other deadlines that are approaching and compare coworkers’ workloads. If a client has a strict deadline or broadcast date during your busiest time, find a middle ground with the team. It’s your job to make the client happy, but it’s also your duty to set your team up for success.
Always remember that your team has a personal life and don’t take their time for granted. Follow the golden rule all day long, peeps.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Finally, don’t neglect your own to-do list. It can be hard to check off your own tasks when your priority is to make sure other people are on task, but be strategic and use a remote-work day if you need to.