First of all, I’d like to admit openly that I am not a certified project manager. My lessons have come from the school of hard knocks, from learning things the difficult, and sometimes painful, way. After overseeing marketing and web projects for 15 years, however, I’m a bit wiser than when I started. Here are 3 things I do every day.
1. Figure out today.
I had a boss tell me once that if you don’t start each morning knowing what must be done today, you have a problem. He was so right. Begin each day with a list, written or mental, of what must be done today. That will help you steer through the clutter that everyone else wants you to pay attention to. You have your goals clearly spelled out.
2. Plan for tomorrow.
Once you determine what’s top priority today and make sure those wheels are in motion, check on the rest of the week. Is there something you, or someone else, should be doing so tomorrow (or Friday) doesn’t become an emergency? Short-term goals will help you get things out the door, but you will be permanently in survival mode. Not to mention your co-workers will start hiding when they see you coming. Take a minute to see what’s on the horizon so you can get ready now.
3. Take the temperature.
After years of experience and working as a team, a designer or programmer will learn to come to you when they are nervous about hitting a deadline or have conflicting priorities that they need help sorting out. But that’s not always the case with people who can’t manage their time well, or who are in high demand. It’s your job to make sure the team has what they need and is comfortable with the tasks at hand. Finding out well before 5:02 pm that the project is going to be late can help you immeasurably in gaining the trust of those you report to, whether that’s clients or management. Help your team foresee and manage their challenges and you will be invaluable to the team.
Not every project, or every day, goes as planned (do they ever?) but these are a few things that help me make the most of the whirlwind role that is project management.