As a Project Manager here at Dock9 I’m always conscious of time. Whether that’s wasted time, being out of time, a date in the future or the time right now. My day to day world revolves around the clock ticking, as do most of our lives. We’re innately aware of the time at any given point, whether or not we’re aware of that being the case. You probably know roughly what time it is right now without looking.
PM’s have many projects and clients to juggle at once, all in different phases and all needing different levels of attention, but luckily there are some tips and tricks we can utilise to make the day manageable.
- Break up the day
Use a spreadsheet, or online notepad, to break the day into working hours. Assign hours to your different projects and flex up and down each day as attention requires - and be strict.
If writing a document assign an hour or two as needed, and also give yourself some ‘email free’ time so you can completely get in the zone. Let others know you’re in the zone and also get them to screen all calls (apart from urgent matters) so you can properly bed down and ensure all details are free-flowing.
- Plan ahead for the next day (and the next)
Before leaving the office wrap up your present day by preparing for the next. Ensure to do lists and actions are up to date and then transfer to a fresh list. This part is important, the act of transfer ensures you think about each item and whether it is still relevant and can be done that day.
As well as planning your immediate next day (which is so wonderful for Mondays when you come in after a weekend off), have a list for future dates and tasks. Move these to the next day column when that future date becomes tomorrow.
- Organise lists by Project, Actions and Priority
When preparing your next day, and also throughout the present day as new items get added, ensure you keep actions neat by organising under project title and then by priority. Top = most important, further down the list = lower priorities.
Don’t be tempted to skip a top priority to work on something small and seemingly quick. In the long run you’ll be creating a bottleneck of larger, higher priority work for yourself.
- Go mobile
Ensure your notes and day planner are accessible from anywhere (and without internet) by using Google Drive or similar software with the ‘Make this available offline’ feature enabled. This means your notes and actions are always to hand whatever the situation.
- Type notes directly into the source
If you do have the internet, and use software such as Jira, Basecamp, Wrike etc get into the habit of typing your notes directly into the application. This can save time later (especially if you usually hand write notes) as you’re putting yourself one step ahead by typing direct and saving as draft to tidy up and send later.
- Go shorthand
Whenever I write notes, I always write shorthand. Not in the traditional 60’s typist sense, but in a modern efficiency sense. Only write down what you need to know. Surplus information can find it’s way into, and fog, follow ups; leaving room for the possibility of important information being lost in waffle.
I hope these tips and tricks come in handy, feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org to continue the conversation or to let me know your own hints - I’d love to hear your thoughts.