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Stress and project management: How to navigate when under a time crunch

Time stress: a clock with legs

Even with the best of intentions and best efforts at planning, all of us face a time crunch at some point during the year. For most, the question isn’t if you will experience it, it’s how you will navigate the stress when those time constraints come calling.

“It’s only when it comes to crunch time that people’s true character comes out.”

~ Virginia Wade

The good news is we are better equipped than ever before to take project management to the next level. With the right tools, you can set yourself up to keep the stress at bay – and handle it when facing a time crunch.

Project management software to the rescue

Most of the stress during a time crunch typically comes from feeling scattered, without a clear idea of what to prioritise and how to tackle a seemingly enormous project with the clock ticking down.

This is where project management software can come to your rescue. This subset of business tools is designed to help managers and teams alike plan, complete and evaluate projects on a continuous cycle. Most project management software includes task management, document management, resource management and collaboration features. The combination brings a new level of organisation and productivity to the project, since normally cumbersome processes are streamlined.

When implemented successfully, the tool can bring a clear focus to the project, with objectives and timelines laid out ahead of time. It allows delegation, scheduling, reminders, oversight, and team communication. Maybe most importantly for a time crunch, it can give you a snapshot of the entire project so you know your status.

The long and short of it is this: when it comes to feeling stressed under a time crunch, project management software can help you figure out what to prioritise, what to ask for help on, and what to put on the back burner.

Tips for navigating projects and PM software under a time crunch

What happens when you get close to a deadline and you start to feel stressed? Take a deep breath, and consider these tips as your survival guide.

#1: Learn to plan better.

I promise I’m not being passive aggressive here. Feeling the stress of a tight timeline can prove to be a valuable lesson for future projects. Take it as an opportunity to learn how to incorporate PM software into planning! In the meantime, don’t be afraid to delegate. Adjust your planning by delegating some tasks to the rest of your team.

#2: Break it up into small, manageable tasks.

 Nothing is quite as overwhelming as facing a few weeks’ worth of work in a few days. Instead of spending your energy on stressing out about it, take an hour or two to break the project into more manageable tasks. Think a few hours, tops. A kanban system would be immensely helpful here. Then, set up focus sprints where you can work uninterrupted on a single task – incorporating ‘flow activities’ if you can.

 #3: Dive into digital tools.

Project management software isn’t the only useful business tool. You can use time management tools, collaboration tools, productivity tools and more. These tools are typically easy to set up and use, which means you will find immediate value from them in that last week before the deadline.

Brooklin Nash writes about the latest tools and small business trends for TrustRadius. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading YA dystopian fiction (with guilty pleasure) and cooking.

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