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Do you ever find yourself bogged down by your list of things to do, and all of a sudden you’re wondering how you’re supposed to get all of it done and in the time frame that you promised? This happens to everyone, but there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you stay on track and make your team successful.

1. Ask the right questions.

When tasked with an assignment, there are several questions you should ask to ensure that your team does efficient and productive work.

  • What is the scope of the project?
  • What exactly is my team responsible for (deliverables)?
  • When are the deliverables due?
  • What is the budget (if applicable)?

Having these parameters will allow you to provide an accurate timeline and set expectations on the time needed to complete a project. Always remember to tack on 25% extra time than you think you need in case there are any unexpected delays.

2. Prioritize.

Make a list of everything that needs to be completed as part of your project. Then reorganize that list and rank the items in order from most to least pressing. Complete the most pressing items first, when you’re still fresh and focused.

3. Take breaks.

Even when you’re in the zone, it’s important to take breaks to let the mind re-set. For every hour spent sitting, take a 15 minute break. Is there something you need to follow up on with a fellow co-worker? Although it’s possible that it could be easily be taken care of via email, walk to your co-worker’s desk or office to discuss the issue. This gives you an opportunity to get up and walk around while also maintaining personal contact with co-workers.

4. Preach what you practice.

Yes, you read that right. The actions listed above are ones you should practice only in your individual work, but also when leading a team. As a manager, encourage your teams to prioritize, to stand back and examine the big picture. Have a team meeting off-site. The change of scenery may help new ideas flow. If a team seems stuck on a particular problem, encourage a break. Stepping away for just a minute could allow different perspectives to form and solutions to develop.

5. Check in at regular intervals. 

Make sure your team feels supported. Are there questions that need to be answered? Issues to be addressed? Obstacles that may delay a deliverable? Checking in with your team at regular intervals ensures that any obstacle can be overcome without compromising productivity.