Being a project manager can be overwhelming at times, but in this handy post, we’ll guide you through the project manager daily routine – get wise on what you should be thinking about, and doing, every day to be an awesome project manager and get the most out of your day.
I’d love to start this post out with saying how great it is to have a daily routine that sets you up for success. The type of routine where you wake up early (at least two hours before you have to leave the house), and be on top of things. I mean really on top of things, sip some green tea, do some yoga, maybe go for a quick run type of routine.
But that’s really not something I’m familiar enough with to gloat about.
Instead, I’m going to talk about the successful daily routine that starts after the 9:00 am mark.
7 Things For Your Daily Project Management Routine
1. Check on your project status: To optimize your project’s critical paths
As Beyoncé would say, it’s important to check-up-on-it, before you work-up-on-it.
Although it’s unlikely you have a team composed of time-entry heroes (entering hours daily), it’s a good idea to get a view of your projects day-to-day and see how their health is. Especially if the team is actively working on several deliverables.
Things have a tendency to rack up and sneak up overnight, so to avoid any surprises, it’s good to start your day by keeping an eye on progress. This will also help you field the inevitable questions that pop up throughout the day.
2. Review Slack / Tool inbox: To be on top of your team’s needs and avoid being a blocker
I bet you thought I’d say check your email now. Nope! You’re there for your team, and it’s their needs that will have an immediate impact on your day. Whatever tool you use to facilitate internal communications should take priority in your morning. It’s more likely you’ll be a blocker to the project if you don’t have eyes on where your team needs you.
Depending on the layout of your office, checking your communication tool is often replaced by someone just sliding up to your desk and vocalizing what’s on their mind.
3. Prepare for meetings: So you are proactively informed and time stays productive and on schedule
As much as the project manager manifesto is “Every day is different” – sometimes it’s really not all that dramatically different. There are some pretty constant pillars in our calendars and these are team scrums and client check-ins. Each of these meetings should be something that you, as the project manager, are prepared for ahead of time.
It’s your responsibility to be the keeper of knowledge and know all of the things. It’s worth taking the time in your morning schedule to create and share the agendas for these meetings with your clients and internal team.
4. Check your emails: To see what questions and requests are waiting for your clients
Contrary to popular belief, checking your emails should not be the first thing you do in the day. Project management tips 101. *There’s a tendency for frantic emails to completely take over your tasks for the day and push your priorities around. *Or, you can check your emails first thing, but don’t let them be the sole determinants of your priorities.
5. Go to meetings: To get action plans finalized and decisions nailed for your projects
Unavoidable – you are the bridge between the client’s team and your agency’s team. Routine meetings typically have the sole purpose of updates and visibility into ongoing projects. They also have the underlying goal of relationship building, trust and communication are prevalent for all client-facing opportunities.
If it’s within your power to organize when client meetings happen, most DPM’s recommend client meetings take place in the morning. There are several reasons for this including:
- Time zones:
- On the west coast (PST), sometimes you could be working with a client who is over on the east side, 3 hours ahead (EST). Our mornings are eastern client’s afternoons. At which, the time limit for a meeting with an eastern client usually ends by 1:30 pm (PST) at the very latest.
- Fewer problems have come up during your client’s day prior to the meeting — which means, fewer items for you to react to! (We can only say ‘That’s a change request so many times until it loses its charm).
- More time for you in the afternoon to actually take action on what you discussed with the client before they raise the inevitably pressing questions of “Why hasn’t this been done yet? We discussed it yesterday..”
6. Get werkin: To get the stuff you need to keep momentum on your projects
The mornings are typically more scheduled out and typically direct your activities for and next steps until the end of the work day. Afternoons are more inclined to be making sure you have a good handle on the things that went on that day.
This is the time of the day where you have it booked for yourself which means you’ll basically be taking care of:
- Preparation for tomorrow / the rest of the week
- Reviewing incoming work and tasks
- Responding to client emails
- Communicating with the internal team to get things done!
7. Get reading: So you’re the smartest one in the room
Probably one of the most difficult, but most impactful thing to do in the afternoon, or at some point in your day, is to spend ten minutes researching the world and industry around you.
As movers and shakers in the digital sphere, it’s advantageous for yourself to stay on top of your world’s jargon. This can help you bring ideas to the team and your clients. A few resources to check out for this are below:
- First Round Review: For insights into product, people and culture, and management tips
- Uxdesign.cc : For user experience, usability and product design.
- Google Design: See who the vanguards are on Google’s design radar
- Vancouver Tech Journal: An email that goes out every Sunday (you can use your work afternoons to read it) that lets you know what’s going on in the Vancouver, BC area – tech specific.
- Fastcodesign.com: Always a classic.
- AND THE DIGITAL PROJECT MANAGER OF COURSE!
And when all the above is taken care of, suddenly it’s after 5 pm and oh, are you the last person in the office, again?
Well, at least that means you’re less likely to be taking your work home with you!
What Does Your Day Look Like?
Sound familiar? Or are we worlds apart? Let us know what your day looks like in the comments below.