A 4 minute read by Keegan Wilkinson, Project Manager
To be a project manager (PM), you have to have several essential qualities in life - organization, planning skills, great memory and timeliness. It will be difficult to succeed as a PM without these distinct traits, and no employer would be thrilled to hire someone who hasn’t perfected these skills.
If you read the above and are already turned off from being a Project Manager or if you are a PM and thought, “well, that’s not right”, you are not alone. I am nothing like a typical PM. Outside of work, I have medium to poor organization skills. I would rather plan my next Netflix binge than sit for hours planning out my next timeline. My memory is good, but only with movie lines. And my timeliness, let’s just say I am writing this blog the day it is due. However, I have learned to be a good project manager with the help of great co-workers and bosses who have taken the time to teach me how to be successful in my own way.
So, what is it that makes this two years out of college, unorganized, procrastinating person a good project manager? A great daily routine. Some I have figured out on my own, but a lot I have learned from people who took the time to teach me.
Here are five daily habits to become a successful project manager.
1. Wake up. Be happy.
I have to start my day on a good note. Whether that is laying in bed staring at dog instagrams like a pack of sorority girls or listening to John Pinette all morning, if your day doesn’t start out happy, most likely the rest of your day will follow. And trust me, your team does not want to be around a pissed-off PM.
So wake up and get up and do something that makes you happy. Go for a run, read a book, eat a breakfast at Waffle House that would kill an elephant. Do anything that will make you smile walking into your office.
2. Plug In
Texts. Emails. Slacks. G-Chat. Whatever your team uses to communicate, promptly check everything as soon as you get to the office. Every morning when I get into the office I check three things. Emails (to make sure I didn’t miss anything), Slack (to make sure I didn’t miss anything) and ESPN (to make sure I didn’t miss anything). The first two are work related and it makes me good at my job. The third option is just a follow up to #1.
3. If You’re On Time, You’re Late
Timelines and project statuses, AKA, your lifeblood as a project manager. I keep all of my active timelines in a tab and they are always open in a separate window. Having nine timelines open all the time can drive a man crazy, but it helps remind me of where every project is and to check them. Every. Day.
Throughout the day, I make sure that all my projects are flowing well with the tasks and making sure that everything is moving on time. Obviously, it does not always flow the way I want it to, but that’s part of being an agency. Shit happens. Fix your timeline, talk to the team, and move on.
Perk of being a PM - Every time a project is completed and I get to hit the little red X on a tab, I get to run like a mad man to the beer cart.
4. Well Done Tasks = Happy Resources = Happy Client
Right now I have an unopened email for a task request. Why is it still un-opened? Why haven’t I put that task in yet? Because it’s part of my morning ritual to do tasks. Make sure that the task itself has all the information it needs for your team to complete it or it is very clear that all information has not been sent in from the client. This is what we call a TBD task. Never heard of it? You should try it out. Your resource manager will love them (and you!)
When creating tasks, I cater my tasks to each person. The details in a task for an Account Manager will look a lot different than the tasks for a Developer. Get to know your team on a personal level and understand how they work best. It will make your life easier and working together a breeze.
5. Be On The Same Page as Your Account Manager
Make your life easier and talk with your Account Manager frequently. I probably over-communicate with my AMs, but I am always a fan of saying too much rather than too little. AMs will appreciate the fact that you want to constantly be on the same-page as them. When you do want to catch up with them, make sure that they have time.
Account managers are constantly getting hit in all directions. Help them out by always knowing the timelines like the back of your hand and being their support when something goes haywire.
These all seem like small, obvious things, but I can guarantee that you will become a better project manager, employee and coworker if you make these five habits part of your daily routine. From a project manager who is the furthest thing from a typical project manager, good luck and happy organizing!