4 Productivity-Boosting Tips for Managing Projects and Teams at the Micro Level

team-collaboration-business-results-performanceThe devil is in the details is a saying that project managers are likely to know more intimately than most. When you manage a project for efficiency, accuracy, and speed, it’s not just about managing the details and flow of the project, it’s about managing the details of the details. This is the time spent on individual tasks and how productively those tasks are accomplished. And it’s in these micro details that some of the real, breakthrough results in productivity can be achieved.

Here are four steps on how to do it, and links to a sampling of People-OnTheGo workshops to help you get there:

1. Stop sending an overload of emails to your project team.

According to our survey about the impact of email and social media on productivity, emails are one of the biggest culprits for workplace distractions. Start using alternative ways of communicating with your team that don’t lead to hard-to-track email chains, and time wasted by constantly checking email.

Wikis, Google Docs, and hosting virtual meetings to share complex information are all excellent alternatives. Use SharePoint and Microsoft Project to manage large amounts of project information online, share documents, manage calendars, assign tasks, and more.

2. Work in 40-minute bursts for maximal productivity.

Instead of working for a few minutes at a time, then checking email, or going on social media, or jumping to another sub-project or idea, encourage your team to work in 40-minute bursts of focused work. Through research detailed in his Accomplishing More With Less workshop and workbook, People-OnTheGo Founder Pierre Khawand shares that just 40 minutes of distraction-free effort gets the brain thinking to the point where breakthrough accomplishments can be reached.

3. Schedule and plan for collaborative time.

Projects require a lot of collaboration—so make sure you plan for it in a productive way! After 40-minute focused sessions of work, have your team work collaboratively for 20 minutes, then they can get back to their individual tasks at hand. This way, everyone can stay focused on their results.

4. Go even more micro.

Suggest that your team use a countdown timer to maximize their focus during 40-minute work sessions. As Pierre writes: “Just the fact that the timer is running seems to drastically heighten our awareness of time and allow us to quickly notice when we deviate from our task. “

You can also advocate sketching a quick, micro plan at the beginning of each focused session to help guide progress on tasks. This brief map or list will keep team members guided on where to go next. And lastly, foster an environment that’s free of external distractions. Remind your team members not to distract one another’s work sessions—and don’t be a distracting manager either—unless it’s extremely urgent. Encourage your team to turn off that email alert, cell phone ring, shut down social media for the time being, and put an away status on instant messages.

Be the master of these micro details for your team and project management, and you’ll truly have that “details devil ” by the tail.

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Melissa Sweat

Melissa Sweat is a Freelance Writer and Online Community Manager at a San Francisco-based company providing project management and productivity training & much more, both online and in-person to individuals and corporate clients in the U.S. and abroad.