How to prioritize during change

How to Prioritize Projects During Tough Times

As we’ve covered recently, it can feel difficult to get through the holidays while our teams are short-handed due to layoffs, sicknesses, low budgets, or vacations. It can be even tougher for you if this period in time will extend indefinitely for your company, as managers struggle to find new candidates for open roles while your team is holding down the fort. Today we’ll review some ways you and your team can keep cool under the mounting pressures of oncoming projects.

1. Get Clear on Your Goals, Budget, and Resources

Have managers or lead stakeholders meet and discuss your goals for the upcoming quarter. In that meeting, you should first discuss the company’s goals at hand and then decide on which strategies are most aligned with where you want to go as a team. Then look at your budget, resources (including skills and available tech), and time alongside proposed projects. Will you be able to hire freelancers or are you more focused on long-term hiring efforts? How can you cut down on spending? How can teams be more efficient day-to-day? Discuss anything that might be holding you back from reaching your goals (aka your constraints), too. The leadership team should come up with a plan of action together and then discuss that plan with their teams.

2. Decide on urgency and importance before acting

Several proven prioritization techniques can help you or your team when you’re feeling overwhelmed. There’s the Eisenhower Matrix (courtesy of author Stephen Covey from his book 7 Traits of Highly Effective People) which helps you organize tasks based on urgency and importance. There’s also the MoSCoW method (labeling tasks as Must-Haves, Should-Haves, Could-Haves, and Wo n’t-Haves) that can help you clarify where you’re at with a project on your timeline. Remember to discern between what’s urgent and what’s important and be reasonable with your expectations of yourself and one another. When you’re alone working on a project, try breaking down your tasks into smaller ones to alleviate any stress. Give yourself more time than you’ll need, too, and relish that excitement when you finish each task. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or check in with your teammates regularly. 

3. Communicate Often

Breaking down your team’s project needs is a group activity. When things are changing often, everyone needs to be on the same page. A great way to do this is to call everyone to a meeting at the head of each week and review the projects on hand. Project Managers already know this well, but if you don’t have a project manager and are using software like Monday or Asana for the time being, this is a critical meeting to uphold for your struggling team. Communication software like Slack can be helpful but can also be distracting when you’re in the weeds—so set boundaries for yourself during these times. A meeting and follow-up notes about your plan via email can set a path forward for success together.

4. Assess Your Plan Regularly

Every plan is going to need re-evaluation in an ever-changing work environment. As a team, your weekly meeting together can act as this assessment. While working on your tasks as an individual, be mindful of where you’re spending your time and discuss any hurdles you’re facing. Talk about your resources and how you’re doing in these meetings and with your manager. Again, communication is key in both making sure you’re hitting targets together and easing stress. It’s always beneficial to admit when you’re struggling or speak up about problems or constraints you see ahead. 

5. Check in with Yourself—Always

We end on the most important tip of all! Ongoing stress and anxiety seem to be commonplace at work when we’re faced with deadlines. But if you stop fulfilling your own needs (a trip to the doctor, a therapy session, time spent with friends and family, or an occasional vacation) you’re likely to burn out sooner. It’s important to take care of yourself (you know, the one doing all this work!). While there are urgent deadlines, your team will understand if you need to take a moment to yourself. Your health and well-being are more important than tasks that will remain undone until you’re refreshed. So take the time needed to stay healthy and focused first. 

If you’re looking for more advice on how to manage your work, tips on interviewing, and more, check out the rest of our blog here on Artisan.

Find Talent 

Other Posts You Might Like