Almost two months into Lockdown 3.0, it seems that ‘working from home burnout’ is becoming more prevalent, with what seems like a non-stop feed of stress-reduction advice articles on LinkedIn or burnout stats a constant presence in the news. But there is a way we can manage our workload at a time when we’re more stressed than ever — whether it’s a week-long project or a 6-month campaign rollout — and it starts with good old planning.

To help us all feel a little more in control of all our projects, we wanted to share a few quick-win tips from our very own Nat, who’s recognised for her skills through the PRINCE2® Practitioner Certificate in Project Management accreditation.

Let’s get started!

  1. “BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND”

— STEPHEN COVEY, AUTHOR OF THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE®

It might feel weird to start a project with an end in mind, but knowing clearly what you need to achieve will help keep you focused on your goals, and will also help avoid the dreaded scope creep. Whatever this end point looks like for you, establish it before things start to snowball and you’ll reap the benefits of this focused approach in your final results!

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2. FIND THE KEY MILESTONES

A project’s success depends on identifying all the key milestones and putting a deadline to each. In our world, these can be anything from having that initial kick-off call with everyone involved to providing print-ready artwork. Hitting each key milestone makes the project feel less daunting and allows you to continually check in on the progress — and feel great about hitting those deadlines!

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3. PLAN FOR THE CURVEBALLS

Planning for risk makes sure that any curveballs that might be thrown at you have solutions before you even start the project. It means that measures can be put in place to effectively deal with any issues that might come up, from a missed deadline beyond your control to things such as holiday. If these curveballs arise, you’ll either have factored them into the plan already or have a strategy to deal with them right off the bat.

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4. PLOT THE PROJECT AND SHARE THE PLAN

Creating a clear-cut, documented project plan that’s shared with the team and the wider stakeholders across the business is one of the best ways to make sure your project runs smoothly from start to finish. Defining what needs to be done by each team member (and by when!) will help you all work towards the one common goal — smashing your work in the most efficient way possible!

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5. KEEP GREAT COMMUNICATION GOING

Regular and clear communication is an absolute must for any project-based working. Establishing and scheduling dates for regular communication and check-ins alongside solid ways of working with the team and all key contacts early on should make working together much smoother, and keep everyone accountable at the same time.

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6. CHECK, CHECK, AND CHECK AGAIN!

Quality checks at every milestone mean that everyone is satisfied with the outputs all through the project’s lifespan. From our agency-side perspective, this is about checking the clarity of studio briefs so that they’re easily understood, updating and triple-checking the status reports, or accurately proofing copy and artwork before it goes out. All of these things increase our chances of getting things right first time, which is obviously a more efficient and stress-free way of working in the long run!

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7. EVALUATE THE END RESULT

At this point, it’s always helpful to allocate some time to really evaluate the project. What went well, and what could’ve been done better? What key learnings can be taken forward into future projects? It’s always good to ask your team, and definitely ask any other stakeholders who’ve been involved — you’re likely to get some positive feedback as well as some constructive ideas for next time. This level of honest and open reflection is something that’s vital for elevating the next project to new levels of brilliance!

We lead many projects for our clients. Big, small, and everything in between. If you could do with some specialist consultation or an extra pair of hands, all you need to do is drop us a line and we’ll let you know how we can help.

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