20 Principles of a Successful Project Manager, Part 1

20 Principles of a Successful Project Manager, Part 1

How do you motivate yourself to accomplish large, difficult tasks? On a daily basis, the schedule of a project manager is filled with a variety of simple tasks, such as calling clients to provide updates and reach timelines, to more complicated tasks that need technical knowledge and some patience. In this article, whether you're a project manager or a business professional working in the tech industry, you can learn about time management skills and a few tips on completing tasks while enjoying the process.

1. Break Down Difficult Tasks

Tasks that are more difficult require a lot of focus and effort to get done. They cannot be accomplished all at once, unless you want sleepless nights and a lot of stress. Instead, begin by breaking them down into smaller tasks that you can do every day. When you get closer to a deadline, you will notice that it’s no longer an intimidating difficult task that it once. Typically, the harder your task is, the less motivation you'll have for completing it. If you want to accomplish a large, time-consuming task, make it a priority to break it down into smaller tasks as well as divide up your time for each task, making it less overwhelming. For example, if you are asked to do some SEO tasks by applying online marketing in web development  for your company or your client (which is complex and requires a lot of time and effort), you could start by making calls or do some research every day. If you put it off, there will be no results.

2. Take Care of Small Tasks First

There are also unpleasant tasks that project managers have to do as part of their job. Tasks such as making calls, following up with difficult clients or taking care of reports is what I'm referring to. Don’t neglect these tasks as they will turn into problems for you and your team later on. Each morning try to complete one of these unpleasant tasks to get it out of the way for the rest of your busy day so that you can dedicate the time to more energy-consuming tasks.

A lot of people put off large tasks because they appear too big or intimidating and sometimes even impossible to accomplish. Instead of thinking about how big and difficult it is, break it down into smaller, manageable tasks.

For instance, if you need to write a report of all designs for the web design services from your client to web designers, keeping in mind all the latest web design trends of 2018, don’t wait and begin writing it out for the team. Make a call to your client for any comments or clarifications on their feedback and get as much information as you can. All of these tasks can easily be done daily and by the end of the week you will have something substantial to deliver, helping everyone move to the next step of the web development process.

3. Find Different Ways to Stay Motivated and Energized

Project Managers work with cross-sectional teams and they need to stay on top of everything from calls to meetings to prototype reviews and reports. However, for all of these responsibilties, one thing remains the same - it’s hard to accomplish anything if you are not feeling motivated to do so. It will undoubtedly take more time to finish it if you keep putting it off and take care of easier and more enjoyable tasks. There is no need to ignore tasks you don’t want to work on because they will be on your list until they are completed. Instead, find ways to motivate yourself to save time and energy. Every time you complete one of the subtasks, try to reward yourself for doing something consistently and on time. We are only humans and are not always patient. Instead of waiting to give yourself a reward in the end, you can treat yourself to something for each step that gets you closer to the goal. You will not only be more motivated, but also more driven to keep moving to the next steps. Remember, your work ethic says a lot about the company to your clients and will help your potential client in choosing best web design company they would want to continue to work with in the future.

4. Use Music and Other Tools to Focus

Let’s be real here- music is the tool to get into the “flow” of productivity with minimal distraction. Make your time at work more enjoyable by playing music that keeps you focused while being productive. Play music that relaxes you during breaks or when you clock out. This will train your brain to shift focus and concentrate on either work or rest. You will notice that after some time your brain will get accustomed to different music you use for different functions, only then will it begin to adjust according to that. After some time, when you use music that is meant for rest at yout work, you will probably get distracted. Try different genres and see which one works for you. Generally speaking, jazz and lo fi music without words would be good for work and study, but it of course depends on your personal music preferences.

5. Organize your work day

How you plan and organize your day depends on your habits and your schedule, among other reasons. Keeping clients and your team happy is not a simple task. On one hand, you want to bring your client’s vision to life and be the company that delivers best web design for their website pages and on the other hand, you don’t want to assign too much work to web designers and developers if it's not necessary. You need to learn how to plan and organize your work day for time efficiency to get things done without a lot of stress. Planning can make schedules more manageable.

Try to plan your day either in the morning before doing anything else or plan it at the end of the work day when you know what needs to be done the next day. You need to plan your day as well as your week and update it when any changes occur. Daily planning is simply a guide that tells you what needs to be done, how much time is required and other details that help you stay organized. Your daily tasks that are not schedule-specific should also be written or typed in order for you to have a visual in order to remind yourself to work on them throughout the day.

6. Record Your Tasks

Writing down your tasks that need attention is a crucial habit for a project manager. You might think you can memorize everything important, but sadly our brains are not designed to retain everything. You can help jog your memory by writing necessary notes down. Google calendar offers plenty of options for a busy project manager - you can do anything from setting meetings and reminders to assigning labels and colors. If you’re new to setting tasks and planning your day, you can begin with action-oriented words, such as “finalize prototype edits” or “review progress report” and use them to break down your day into manageable tasks, meetings, and so on. It’s important to note that there are different types of tasks that must be separate for more efficiency which include flexible, non-flexible and budgeted tasks.Example of non-flexible tasks are meetings, events or any time-sensitive manner. Flexible ones are not time-specific, but still need your attention so they must be written down as well. An example of a flexible task may include researching the latest SEO trends of 2018. Budgeted ones are time consuming and can either be broken down into subtasks or scheduled ahead of time separate from other tasks to allow ample amount of time and focus put into it. Planning your day will allow you to complete more with less effort remembering everything and have more time to prepare for meetings, take a break or do some research for your client.

7. Organize Your Task List

Yes, it’s important to plan what you are doing and what needs to be done, but if you don’t organize all of your tasks, you will waste a lot of time focusing on something that is not as high priority compared to other tasks. Create your system of organizing and classifying information. You can start by dividing tasks into categories: time-specific and flexible. That way, your calendar or planner shows time-specific tasks separately with times and locations for meetings or events. Flexible tasks can include anything else that is not connected to time, but require completion regardless. Both types of tasks need to stay action-oriented, so use action verbs and be specific so that you know the results that you expect when you read it. Google calendar, again, is a great tool for people who use their phone calendars with reminders and notifications.

8. Be Punctual

Punctuality is a daily struggle for anyone with a busy schedule and a variety of project manager responsibilities can change depending on the needs and the growth of your company. There are brief meetings, client meetings, team meetings and other events to attend to weekly, if not daily. Something that needs constant improvement is being prepared and on time to attend meetings and important events. It comes with experience, but starting off on a right foot is going to make you appear more professional, especially in the eyes of clients. So what is considered late? Ariving at least 5-10 minutes is a minimum level of punctuality that is expected in any business or school setting. Also, set up meeting times with people by asking them what their expectations of time are if you're not certain. For some, around 9 AM can mean 9:30 AM, while for others it may be 9:00 AM. Be specific and come early to prepare for your meetings, get a cup of coffee and gather your thoughts.

9. Create Criteria to Prioritize Tasks

Earlier I mentioned that tasks need to be prioritized and categorized by time or budget, which is useful for your calendar. Next, you could create criteria to sort through your tasks and see which ones need to be accomplished first. With large amounts of information that we see and use every day, it’s easy to get lost and not see what’s important and what isn't. By prioritizing tasks and goals, you can dedicate the time important tasks deserve and waste less time in the end. So how do you prioritize tasks and what criteria could you use? Everyone evaluates the importance differently depending on their position, workload, and so on. There are, however, ways to make it easier and more consistent by creating a criteria that can be applied to most tasks that need to be prioritized. Sometimes it’s hard to determine which tasks must come first, so here are a few ideas for criteria:

  1. Who assigned a task, their position and how important it is to them
  2. Overall importance of the task to company’s objectives
  3. Urgency
  4. Your interest
  5. Difficulty and time required
  6. Availability of needed resources

As mentioned before, you can come up with a system of criterias that works for you. And the more experience you gain managing projects, the better you will define your criteria and use it to prioritize tasks. It will only take 15 minutes or so to come up with your own criteria that you can use and improve in the future.

10. Thrive for Professional Growth

It’s important to note that time management is a practical strategy that can be applied at your workplace as well as in your personal life. Some people get preoccupied with time management and get stressed because they may not balance work and play well. Organizing and managing your time is very useful, but don’t go overboard. It is simply meant to make your life easier. Use current technologies to your advantage as there are many free tools online that are waiting to be used. Do some research and continue to read compelling web design and development blogs that can help improve your skills, time management and promote professional and personal growth. In addition, there are networking events and workshops in your field that can help you obtain new skills, meet people in web design and development and further your learning from multiple sources of information so you become a successful project manager.

Max Pak
Max Pak


This article is a great read that can help a business professional learn how to be more efficient! I also agree that organizing your work day is a very important task that helps you make the most of your time.

Thanks for posting this, I find that a shared pain that most development shops and the clients they work with is a misunderstanding of the role of the project manager. They are such a pivotal linchpin in the entire process when it comes to keeping the task on track as well as managing the parties involved. This article gives a clear and concise methodology and an understanding of their role.

I enjoyed reading this article. It helped me gather my thoughts and organize them in a certain way that is more time efficient. I think it is best for people to take little breaks throughout the day in order to be more productive, such as getting a cup of coffee and asking how a co-worker's weekend was. I do love the Google calendar, it helps me plan my days and reminds me what needs to get done and what not.

Following these guidelines can most definitely apply to other fields and industries. Great read!

Most people start the day without much thought or strategy - prioritizing your tasks and to do list will make sure you get the biggest things done each day. As Brian Tracy said, "If you have to eat a frog, eat it first thing in the morning and if you have to eat two frogs, eat the biggest one first."

Interestingly, there are some very smart people who begin their day by organizing the first thing they encounter. An un-made bed. Make your bed first and set a standard for organization in your day.

I always preach being organized, having a plan is so important. It is imperative to set tasks, prioritize, and adjust. We need to do this in almost every aspect of our lives.

It is a good read. A lot of times project managers can get overwhelmed because they job requires them to work with a variety of different tasks and clients, following these easy steps could make their job much less stressful.

Good read because staying organized and on-task is critical in a professional setting. Furthermore, it is important to understand the importance of the role of a project manager on any project, in any setting.

Motivation and energy for all the tasks that need to be done may be difficult to find at times, but it's worth it because you helped someone at the end of the day

Great job staying on task. This is something everyone can learn from :)

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Stephen Greenspan
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