10 Tips for Project Managers: Get Back-to-Work after SummerDigital Project Management
Vacation is over, it’s time to get back to your old work routines. Up early, get your kids to school, and finally grab your caffeine fix on the way to work. This is how you usually do, or at least the majority of busy mankind, but it can be hard to grasp exactly the best ways to get back into the workflow.
We all deal with these problems, even project managers who are known to, and needs to keep the overview in check, while having the energy surplus to keep up with projects. This way, team members do not have to, and can instead focus on doing the job that needs to get done.
Therefore, we decided to provide you with an easy to manage list of 10 tips that we thought could help you out:
- Get a full status update on your on-going projects
Projects are usually not prone to take a break, and take time off to go for vacation. Projects are scheduled, there are deadlines that explicitly need to be met, and there are clients or other projects waiting at the end of the tunnel.
Therefore, it is extremely important to get back, and re-establish that overview you used to have before leaving for your Summer holidays.
Get in touch with the people that took over when you left; meet by the famous watercooler, and get that ever so important status update. It is crucial for both parts to share their milestones, current issues, and maybe roughly reflect on the project once again. Meet your team, share your ups and downs, and get that quick one-on-one conversation. Maybe wish them a happy one, if it’s now their turn to take a break.
- Come to grips with the fact that projects are progressing without you
Don’t forget to ask questions, since even project managers can get out of touch with the progress sometimes. The most important is that you make sure to regain the overview, and let everybody know that you are back and there to help.
- Update plans to reflect the now
When you have successfully regained the overview, and got in touch with the people you need to get in touch with - then you need to adapt your on-going plans. Stay on-track, and keep your plan up-to-date with the updates you just got from your fellow team members.
This will help both you, and your team to get the job done, as it was initially planned out.
- Do not procrastinate
After vacation it can be very tempting, and easy to procrastinate the hard parts till later on, but you need to remember that those steps usually won’t get easier on a later date, and often you get back to work with a surplus of energy. Take advantage of this, get the things going, and make it easier for yourself in the long-run.
- List / update your goals as a Project Manager for the rest of the year
Reflect on your personal goals, and blend these with the milestones and goals you have set up for your team as a whole. See, if you can blend some of these goals, and make it a life path for you, and a shared goal that the team wants to accomplish together. Things get easier when you take them down on a personal level, and when everybody can see how they specifically fit into the mix. Work together to meet your goals.
You could even specify a reward that you personally (e.g. your next vacation), or your team can look forward to unlock at the end of the session.
- Stay organized
Do not undermine the importance of staying organized. Maybe you already had a flow going before the break, or maybe you just kept everything in your head. No matter what, make sure to refresh your mind, and establish a workflow that includes the organization techniques and tools that you think could help you out, long-term.
The worst you can do is to keep everything backed up in your mind. This is a stress factor that just keeps on growing, and if there is one thing you don’t want to do just after getting your brain rinsed after a break, it is to get down the same path just as quick as you got out.
- Commend the team that we are working on the project over the vacation
Do not forget to take a moment together with your team to share what’s going on, and praise the milestones that you already accomplished together. The most effective and creative team is one that stands together, and makes sure that everybody sees themselves as a part of the whole.
- Don’t get stressed by your inbox - delete all cruft and take it from the top
Inbox-zero. Everybody is talking about it, but nobody really gets to it. This can especially seem as a hard accomplishment, when you just returned from three weeks of vacation, or even just one. Don’t let your inbox bring you down, take it from the top, and get rid of the stuff that do not seem important.
All mail clients have features to easily organize your emails.
Eventually, mark / flag everything that has a relevance within the coming 7 days, and move everything else to a ‘month’ or ‘later’-folder (or label). This ensures that what needs your attention right away, gets it, and everything else gets out of your way.
Furthermore, to keep the stress level down for a bit, leave the automatic out-of-office reply on for a few days, but remember to take it off sometime - eventually… ;)
- Catch your breath, take it slowly - and ease into it
What needs to get done, usually always gets done, in one way or another. Take it easy. Don’t stress, and let your positive energy work for you. Share it with the team, and make it a positive experience to meet at the office every morning.
Eventually, look at your workplace environment - see if there is something that has been bugging you, or an idea you’ve had to how the place could change for the better. Sometimes it’s great with a refreshment, and others might even have thought the same thing. Try it out!
- Keep your calendar meeting-free for the first couple of days
Don’t get booked up right away. Stay out-of-sight for a couple of days, while you try to recover, and grasp the current situation of your projects. Sometimes the break is what brings the inspiration, and the will to move on, in the right manner.
We hope you will benefit from some of these tips, and moreover we wish you a great first work week back at your desk.