Tips for Managing your Project Priorities

by Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt)

As if it’s not enough for a project manager to prioritize everyone else’s task and deliverables, we also must  manage our own priorities. It’s one of the hardest things to do, so let’s take a look at a few tips on managing your project priorities.

What 

A project priority includes just about everything:  deliverables, task, meetings, celebrations, people, milestones and schedule; basically, everything that is base lined in the project plan.

Who 

The stakeholders and change control board are responsible for managing and setting priorities according to the baseline project plan, even though we all have a say to some extent. It’s important to ensure that their expectations are aligned to the plan throughout the project because what often happens is as things change on the project, assumptions are made and expectations start changing. We as project managers have to work with the stakeholders and change control board to make sure everything remains aligned with the baseline project plan. If it isn’t, we work with them to change things, make decisions, and agree upon and rebase line the project plan. 

How 

Managing your project priorities when all of these other priorities are changing is done using the same principles as on the project: monitoring, controlling and escalating. Find out what’s off track, get it back on track as quickly as possible, and escalate to the right people in order to get those things done.

Reminder! 

We do what we love and what we’re good at doing, which does NOT always align with our project priorities. There are things that I enjoy doing more than others, so it’s important to remember what we need throughout a project to successfully manage our own priorities.

  1. Focus. There are so many changing dynamics, people and interactions throughout a project that it is critical to stay focused on what our project priorities are, so that they don’t get out of control and impact the project.
  2. Discipline. It takes a discipline to keep everything organized, and to continually remember that we have our own project priorities too.
  3. Boundaries. It’s really important to set boundaries so that people can’t distract and cause us to reset our own project priorities and baselines and make assumptions. Establishing boundaries is a good discipline that will help us keep our priorities on track.
  4. Delegate. We can do what we love and are great at, as long as we delegate things we don’t like to others who have the skill set, training or love for them.

Keeping these things in mind will help you keep your priorities on track, so that you are not the one at the end of the day whose status is red on the red, green and yellow report.

If you found these tips from Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt) of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.

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