There’s a lot to know—and do—to be a top-performing project manager. You have to be well-organized, see the big picture, be detail-oriented, manage resources, lead teams, know how to use planning tools, win the trust of clients and bring projects in on time. To name a few skills and responsibilities.
But if you practice one good habit a day, you’re on your way to being the kind of PM that everyone wants to work with, and have lead their projects. Here are 21 tips to enhance your project management career.
- Work on your top three priorities every day.
- Manage interruptions. Turn off email, close your door, turn on a “busy” or “do not disturb” notification, find a quiet place to work, or simply let your team know to leave you alone for a set number of hours (handy if you work in an open environment).
- Only plan and attend meetings that really, really, really matter (e.g., move the project or business forward in some way).
- Use collaborative project management software where everyone on the team can manage and update their work.
- If you’re a visual thinker, use mind maps to replace project management templates.
- Also for visual thinkers, use a board-style project management system like Kanban or LP’s Card View.
- Turn your project management plan into a slide deck for presentations and status reports.
- Turn off the big distraction machine (email, IM, Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
- Prioritize work by identifying urgent vs. important tasks.
- Make ranged estimates that are realistic and reliable.
- Be ready for anything. Learn how to remove obstacles before they pop up; lean how to set up smart risk management processes.
- Become a savvy manager of your time (and know your most productive time of day).
- Know when it’s time to drop a feature and move on.
- Remember: Processes don’t do the work, people do. But great processes support and facilitate the work.
- Be impeccable at resource management. Find a PM tool that helps you anticipate your needs and fulfill them as perfectly as possible.
- Work smarter not harder. Take time to think strategically, consider the big picture and make creative vision time before putting your head down and planning out those projects. Being busy for the sake of looking busy won’t get you far.
- Make sure your team members are committed to tasks and activities that use their strengths.
- Work collaboratively and transparently. It’s good for morale, motivates people and builds teamwork skills.
- Don’t multi-task yourself into oblivion. If your job demands some juggling, take a break from it to dive deep and do some focused, productive work.
- Learn how to create a detailed project plan that everyone can stand behind.
- When the project’s over, have a review system and a criteria for success so you can take lessons forward with you—what worked well, what you can do better next time. Strive for a level of mastery!
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Illustrations by Nadya Ilinskaya, LP’s Test Engineer.