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Project Hibernation – How to Manage Long-term Projects with Seasonal Strategies

Training for project managers tells us that when it comes to those long-term projects that have no clearly defined deadlines, particularly those that have limited resources and multiple competing priorities, then you could find yourself faced with a challenge. But with some careful organisation, planning, and, of course, motivation, you should be able to complete all of your projects whilst also achieving your goals.

Here are some of our tips that have been put together to help you manage your long-term projects when you do not have any clearly defined deadlines.

Set yourself some SMART goals

When it comes to managing your time for your long-term projects, the first very important step that you need to take is to define those goals that you would like to achieve and also consider how you plan to measure the progress that you have made along the way. SMART goals should be specific, measurable, relevant, achievable, and time-bound.

These goals are the things that will help you to break down your project into smaller manageable tasks and milestones. They will help you to keep motivated and focused. A good example of this is that rather than saying you would like to complete a particular task, say instead that you want to complete the task by a particular date. Also say that to do so you must complete a certain proportion of the task every couple of weeks in order to reach both the short deadlines and completion of the whole task.

Create a schedule that is realistic

Once you have decided on your SMART goals then you will need to think about the next step which is creating a realistic schedule. This should be one that is in alignment with your availability, the resources that you have at your disposal, and any other preferences you may have. A good schedule that is realistic allows you to balance your project tasks and any other responsibilities and commitments that you might have. It will also give you a degree of flexibility and buffer time. There are several different ways in which you can do this.

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Try using a calendar, a project management tool that will create your schedule and then track your deadlines, or even a planner. You might want to block out particular hours or even days for work on your projects. You can also set reminders and/or notifications for the milestones that you have set for your project.

Prioritise and delegate

When it comes to managing your time for your long-term project, another tip that you should consider is that you should be prioritizing your tasks and then delegating them in terms of their importance and also their urgency. When you prioritize your tasks, it can help you to make sure that you are focusing on those tasks which are the most critical and impactful first. This will ensure that you are not wasting your time on those activities that are irrelevant or of low value. Delegating is a good way of leveraging your expertise and skill and more importantly, freeing up some of your valuable time to focus more on creative or strategic work. You might for example use an Eisenhower matrix to categorise your tasks into four different quadrants. These are: do, decide, delegate and delete.

The do tasks are the important ones that you need to do and as soon as possible, the decide ones are those that you will need to have a think about. Delegate are those tasks that are within the capabilities of another member of the project team and delete of course refers to anything which really doesn’t need doing and will end up wasting your time.

Review and adjust

In long-term projects, the management of your time needs to undergo regular review and also adjustments about your goals, project schedules and tasks.  It is important to ensure that you are evaluating your performance to identify any achievements and challenges that you have made along the way. This is something that you can do through regular reviews. Don’t forget to also make sure that you take the time to celebrate any wins that you make along the way.

Adjusting is necessary in helping you to adapt to any changing circumstances, improving your effectiveness and efficiency and also overcoming any obstacles along the way. Whether you choose to carry out a review of your progress on a weekly basis or once a month, this will give you the opportunity to adjust any of your project goals or your project schedule as required.

Stay accountable and motivated

One final tip that we have, and this is the same regardless of which courses for project managers you have undertaken,  is that to manage your time effectively in a long-term project you must ensure that you stay accountable and motivated for the duration of the process. Accountability is essential for helping you to stay committed to the project and responsible not only for your actions and the project outcomes. It must also be sofor making sure that you look for the support and feedback that you need when you need it. Good motivation will allow you to keep your enthusiasm for the project at the appropriate level and help you to avoid or overcome any distractions and procrastinations that you might encounter along the way.

You might want to consider things like rewards, affirmations or even something like visualisation to help keep you motivated. Using a mentor, a coach or a peer group will also help you to improve your accountability.

There are plenty of different things to consider when it comes to manging your long-term projects. The important thing to remember is that when you are in a project lull you should look at ways in which you can conserve your energy. That way, when you reach an active stage of the project you are able to maximise your productivity to ensure sustained success.

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