We know that managing teams and projects can get quite challenging, whether you’re a beginner or not.
That’s why we have prepared a list of workload management tips to increase your efficiency and productivity.
So, read on and discover how to track and manage a workload!
- Workload management refers to the organization and distribution of tasks across the team.
- Using a workload management tool will help you organize and track your team’s workload.
- A good workload management plan helps you reduce overwork and improve the quality of work.
- It’s crucial to break down the workload into manageable tasks and assign those tasks to the right people in the team.
Table of Contents
What is workload management?
Workload management is the process of organizing and distributing tasks to team members depending on their skills, availability, and experience.
To be a skillful project manager you must be able to organize a workload so that it boosts the team’s productivity and efficiency.
What causes workload problems?
We have spoken to Dimitry Graf, a PMP and PgMP-certified manager, and asked him about the most frequent causes of workload problems. This is what he singled out:
“Two of the most common problems are unexpected crisis situations and poor workload management.”
Besides these 2 causes, workload problems may also arise due to:
- Uneven workload distribution,
- Insufficient use of resources, or
- Incompetent managers.
To avoid these and other potential problems, make sure to implement the tips below.
8 ways to better manage your workload
We have selected the 8 most important project management tips that will help you track and manage your workload more efficiently:
- Have clear goals,
- Use a workload management tool,
- Break down tasks into smaller chunks,
- Match the right people to the right tasks,
- Introduce flexible working hours,
- Forster positive energy in the workplace,
- Set realistic deadlines, and
- Remain flexible.
Now, let’s analyze each of these tips.
Have clear goals
Before you even begin working on a project, make sure you have a clear picture of what it is you want to achieve — what is your final goal? Then have that goal serve as a lighthouse on the horizon, to navigate your way.
You should also figure out all the small steps you’ll need to take to gradually get there.
When you and your team have a list of both short-term and long-term goals, and you know what you’re going for — you’ll be more motivated to work towards achieving them.
All the tasks that you need to do, even the small ones, will feel important and give your team members a sense of purpose.
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
If you struggle with setting goals, try implementing S.M.A.R.T. goals criteria:
Use a workload management tool
Managing workload is a complex endeavor. Luckily, there are project management tools to help you in the process.
Plaky is a perfect tool to manage projects and turn workload planning from complicated to easy and fun.
Here’s what managing workloads looks like in Plaky:
Plaky will make the workload management process easier, more transparent, and more intuitive by enabling you to control and monitor the entire project with a single tool.
The fun part is — you get to organize everything by color, making your space visually appealing, and easy to navigate.
Apart from project managers, all the other project team members will be able to access relevant project information at any time.
Keeping the entire team in the loop with all project activities will directly increase the team’s overall efficiency.
Break down tasks into smaller chunks
To avoid your team members feeling overwhelmed with their workload, you should break it into more manageable units.
Having the project simplified and broken down into parts will allow both you and your team to visualize the process and better understand its scope.
Match the right people to the right tasks
To be a good project manager, you need to know your employees’ capacities and preferences.
So, skilled project managers will be aware of their team members’ specific:
- Skills, and
- Project experience.
These individual factors can, to a large degree, determine the team members’ capacities for the completion of certain tasks.
You should also be careful about the actual workload you assign to individuals.
A productivity expert and author, Julie Morgenstern, has the following to say on the subject of assigning tasks to individuals, as cited in the article Make Sure Your Team’s Workload Is Divided Fairly:
“If you overwork your high performers, you will lose them because they start to resent the fact that they’re doing more. If you’re taking away work from people who are slower, they will lose interest.“
So, a skilled project manager doesn’t neglect individual factors when distributing tasks, as they have a significant impact on the team’s overall motivation and performance.
If you’re not exactly sure which task will suit what team member — here is what you can do about it:
- Encourage open team communication, to figure out preferences and what motivates individuals to work,
- Learn more about individual team members,
- Involve your team in the planning process — it helps in establishing trust, and
- Encourage independence, e.g. — let team members pick their own tasks.
Introduce flexible working hours
According to the Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey, flexibility in working hours is the most cited factor enabling greater productivity, selected by 43% of respondents whose work-from-home time increased since January 2020.
This shows that every project manager should give their employees as much work schedule flexibility as possible, giving them the freedom to work at their own pace.
Foster positive energy in the workplace
Teams achieve greater efficiency at work and cope with workloads better if they work in a healthy and positive environment.
In their article The best leaders have a contagious positive energy, Emma Seppälä and Kim Cameron refer to great team leaders as positive energizers.
According to their research on positive leadership, organizations with leaders displaying positive energy are, among other things, more:
- Financially stable, and
However, Seppälä and Cameron also highlight that positivity doesn’t refer to superficial or false positivity, e.g. trying to think happy thoughts and ignoring real problems.
Instead, true positivity is rather a demonstration of good actions, such as:
- Gratitude, and
- Recognition within the organization.
Set realistic deadlines
Setting unrealistic deadlines can lead to unnecessary project risks.
Therefore, as a project manager, you should pay special attention to this aspect of workload management.
That way you can avoid undesired outcomes such as:
- Missed delivery dates — it could lead to unsatisfied clients and stakeholders.
- Reduced quality of deliverables — if your team always chases an unattainable deadline, their work would eventually result in a lower quality product.
- Increased costs — if you set your project budget according to unrealistic deadlines, you’ll probably suffer budget overruns.
- Stress that leads to burnout — team members will undoubtedly feel stressed if they constantly have to overwork themselves to reach a deadline, which in turn can lead to burnout.
It’s strange how a single factor such as an unrealistic project deadline can trigger a chain reaction and cause so many negative consequences.
The bottom line is — carefully choose deadlines that are based on the realistic capacities of your team, and you will have increased efficiency as a result.
Despite meticulous planning, nobody can predict the future and know what changes may occur during a project. So all project managers, especially those working in Agile, must be ready to review their plans and adapt to changes.
It’s your job as a project manager to show that you’re flexible and respond adequately by rethinking the plan and reassigning certain tasks to maintain the team’s workload in good balance.
You must consider both the inside and outside factors (e.g. work environment or the market) that might affect the workload, and make the necessary changes, if needed.
Flexibility will ensure that the project goals are met smartly and the team members stay on top of their assignments.
Why is workload management important?
Workload management is important because it:
- Provides a realistic overview of your team’s capacity,
- Reduces overwork, and
- Improves the quality of work.
It provides a realistic overview of your team’s capacity
Knowing your or your team’s limitations and capabilities is important when organizing work.
Dimitry Graf says that workload management helps you identify these limitations:
“Workload management gives you a realistic view of your team/department/organization’s capacity, for example, the ability to deliver work of a specific volume. Which, in turn, allows for an optimal use of human resources and prevents employee burnout.”
It reduces overwork
A well-managed workload means there are no unrealistic deadlines and therefore no need for team members to stay long hours and overwork themselves.
This is especially important for the health of the employees. According to the estimates on the influence of working long hours on loss of life and health made by the World Health Organization and International Labour Organization, working 55 or more hours per week is connected with an estimated 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working 35–40 hours a week.
Therefore, organizing work in a way that doesn’t require any individual to put in long hours ultimately improves their quality of life, which in turn leaves you with happier and healthier workers.
It improves the quality of work
We talked to David Ciccarelli, CEO and Founder of Lake, an online vacation rental platform, who pointed out how workload management improves by accounting for all tasks:
“Managing workload allows for better focus on each task, which improves the quality of work produced. This is especially true if you can have sub-tasks itemized in a checklist to ensure nothing gets missed.”
Workload management with Plaky
You can manage your entire workload with ease using Plaky.
In a Plaky space, you can create boards for your projects and organize work however you want, as the customization options are endless.
You can create a new board for each of your projects, either from scratch or from one of various project management templates. If you choose to start from scratch, your board will look like this:
The first step to managing a workload is to divide the workload into tasks and enter them into Plaky.
Then, you can add assignees to each task and even reviewers or supervisors if necessary.
You can also add a deadline, and various categories to tasks, such as:
- Priority e.g. High, Medium, or Low),
- Status (e.g. To do, In Progress, or Done), and
- Label (e.g. department labels, such as Development, Design, or Marketing).
As we mentioned, projects inevitably encounter changes. You must be able to adapt to them quickly to stay organized at work. Plaky helps you adapt without a hitch by offering a wide range of customization options such as:
- Dividing workload into groups of tasks,
- Rearranging tasks within a group and moving them between groups,
- Adding a new field to a task at any point,
- Changing the order of the fields in the task,
- Sorting and filtering tasks, and more.
In Plaky, you can search for the name of a team member on a board and see all tasks that mention that team member. This will enable you to have a clear overview of each person’s workload and judge whether you can assign more work to them or not.
Workload management is paramount if you want your projects to be successful, so you must make sure it’s done right. Luckily, there’s Plaky to help you organize and keep track of your workload. Sign up for Plaky’s free account today and try it today.