Daily Habits Of A Project Manager That Will Make You Own Your Day

Riz Tabley
5 min readMay 9, 2022

These habits will help you take control of your day and proactively manage your day.

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

How many of us have had those days where you have back to back meetings from 9 am all the way until 5 pm? And go through your emails and finish up at 7 pm. Exhausted and frustrated because you’ve been busy but not productive.

Project work is intense and challenging. Problems and changes in priorities come up all the time.

Below is a set up daily habits that you can practice to help you manage your day and take back control of your work.

Daily planning

Every morning before you start the day and start doing stuff, plan your day. It may not work out the way you planned it but at least you know what you want to achieve and what you need to get done.

Identify 3 things that you want to achieve. These are your daily goals. Next, identify the tasks that you need to get done to achieve these goals. Review your calendar, where are you going to work the tasks for these 3 goals? Unless you make time for it in your calendar, it will not get done. Maybe you can find some time at 6 pm or 8 pm tonight? But that’s the point, you want to find time during the workday to complete the goals.

Which meetings can you not attend or delegate to make time? Which meetings do you need to prioritize or prepare for?

Review your tasks lists, are there new tasks that you need to capture? What are the priority tasks? Is there anything you are waiting for from others that you need to follow up?

Three actions with the task list — Action them, delegate it to someone to do, or delete them.

Focus time

Ever had those days where you jump from one meeting to another, interrupted by calls and urgent priorities? By the end of the day, you’re exhausted and haven’t done all the stuff that you need to do so you spend the evenings working on your priorities.

Block one hour of your time in your calendar where you don’t accept meetings and you can focus on the work you need to do. This is where you do the valuable work — thinking time, getting that monthly report done, reviewing, and updating the risk register.

At this time, turn off your email, phone, and notification. Make sure you plan for it — what do you want to achieve, and have all the resources available to do the planned work. Otherwise, you will spin your wheels and get distracted.

This is separate from responding to emails. Make up a separate time for that. Ideally, you would have a two-hour block or two one-hour blocks scheduled in your day.

Work the plan

This is where you work the plan. Track the activities that are meant to be underway is in progress, any activities behind? Any risks or issues that may impact the deliverables? Does the team need help? Are the dependencies on track?

Look ahead in the plan. What needs to happen 3 steps ahead? This is an important part of the work for the project manager. Being ahead of the team and clearing the way for them.

What activities are ahead that will be dependent on the activities now? What challenges will the team face when they get there? What prep work do you need to do to minimize and remove those challenges?

Practice One skill

Identify a skill from your professional development plan that you need to develop. Next step is to identify opportunitities to practice this skill.

When the situation or an opportunity arises, practice the skill and journal about it. For example, you’re developing the skill of coaching. You identified that your meetings with your team members are opportunities to practice this skill. You figured out the steps you need to take and how you would want the coaching conversation to go.

In the meetings, you practice the coaching skill. It might not go to plan but you’re prepared for it and persist with it. After the meeting, you spend a few minutes writing down how it went, what worked, what didn’t and how you will do it differently.

Weekly Planning

This habit allows you to take the initiative and proactively manage the project.

On a Friday, set aside some time to review the past week and plan the week ahead. In your review, what went well and what can be improved, did you complete your goals? what needs to be rolled over into next week?

Go through all your meeting notes and capture all the new actions into your system. If you don’t have a system, you need to have one. Check out Allan James Get things done.

Identify the weekly goals you need to hit. Have a look at the schedule for next week and a few weeks ahead. Review the project plan, what milestones or activities need to be completed?

Schedule in your focus block of times and any sessions that you need to hit those milestones. Review your task lists, what has a hard date, and what has a flexible date. Schedule them as needed.

What professional development do you need to do? Schedule in time for that. It’s not necessarily a course, could be listening to a podcast, reading a book, or articles. What skills do you need to practice?

Take back the work

Project managers spend a lot of time fighting fires. It can get to the point where they don’t manage the project proactively. Implementing these habits can help take back control of your workday and control the project.

Try introducing one habit, at a time, embed it and then move on to the next one. Some days you won’t do any of them as work gets crazy. That’s ok, start fresh the next day.

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