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How to be a Productive Project Manager

Productive project managers

There cannot be just one best tip that makes a project manager a productive person in the workplace. While some suggest you to get project collaboration software onboard (which will reduce half of your management troubles), others may recommend you to be empathetic towards your team members to get the best results and deliver projects on time. In order to help you save time and energy in going through various articles that give advice on how to become a productive manager, we’ve compiled different expert opinions in this article. Here’s what they say about becoming a productive project manager:
Sam HurleyFounder, OPTIM-EYEZ

Sam Hurley

Ensure every project has a defined purpose, timeline and adequate budget (before you even begin!)
Choose the right people for the job (and the correct amount of people)

  • Hold a structured, initial meeting whereby everybody involved can input thoughts/ideas
  • Ensure this meeting is structured, by sending a pre-meeting bullet list of topic
  • After the meeting, send a ‘minutes of meeting’ sheet to summarize details of the discussion
  • Always include conclusions, action points and designated people to address each one
  • Never micro-manage, but instead designate and absorb all input (equally)
  • Don’t focus on problems — communicate solutions
  • Achieve support from senior staff by consistently showing them figures and progress
  • Dedicate daily time slots that are solely for your project (no interruptions)
  • Turn off all email and social notifications during this time (and don’t check)
  • Keep task lists on Google Drive or use ProProfs Project, so everybody can view and edit in real-time
  • Hold regular, structured meetings at the same time and place (for continuity)
  • Address any concerns directly yet tactfully, while always suggesting improvements
  • Stick to deadlines! ‘Someday’ is not a day of the week…

The key to becoming a productive project manager is to ensure every project has a defined purpose, timeline and adequate budget (before you even begin!).Tweet this

Mark SheadAuthor, Starting Agile

The most important thing a manager can do is clearly communicate priority. There are hundreds of things your team could be working on. If they randomly distribute their effort over all of those things or even a large subset of those things, it will be very difficult to achieve anything.

The simplest way to do this is to keep an ordered list. For example, sticky notes arranged with the most important thing at the top is a good way to visually represent priority.

You can create priorities for the team as a whole or for individuals and there are many ways to actually organize the way you present it. You simply need to make sure that you don’t leave any room for ambiguity. Everyone should be able to clearly state the most valuable thing they can be working on at any point in time.

If you have ever worked under a boss where everything is the most urgent thing you should be working on, you can appreciate the frustration of unclear priorities. Don’t do that to people you manage.

Clearly visualize your priorities and let everyone know when they change. Not only will this reduce frustration and increase efficiency, but it is really how you turn a group of people into an actual team.

A team all works toward a common goal. The better you can keep everyone focused on that goal, that next most important priority, the better you will function as a team.

Visualize your priorities and let everyone know when they change. Not only will it help your team know where to put their efforts but also allow you to boost your productivity.Tweet this

Tzvi ZuckerMarketing Manager, Proggio


Follow the 80/20 rule with team loading: always keep 20% of your team’s work capacity in reserve. This allows for a “flow to work” approach where team members can be assigned to assist with problematic tasks elsewhere. It also gives team members time for creative processes.

Following the 80/20 rule has multiple benefits:

  • Improves team morale: No one feels overworked or pressured
  • Prevents project delays: the reserve capacity can be utilized when needed
  • Provides built-in buffer time for every task: small overruns on task time are already accounted for

Follow the 80/20 rule with team loading: always keep 20% of your team’s work capacity in reserve. Tweet this

Jonathan AufrayCo-founder & CEO, Growth Hackers

To be a productive and efficient project manager, you need to:

  • Be organized: You need to have a plan and set milestones.
  • Listen to others: I mean ‘really’ listen. A lot of project managers, bosses or leaders say they listen but they don’t.
  • Be flexible: Don’t be stubborn.
  • Eliminate distractions: This is true for any work.
  • Use the right tools: To show your progress, communicate with your team and automate tasks.
  • Avoid long meetings

Work towards building the ability to listen, be more organized, more flexible, to avoid long meetings, and use the right tools.Tweet this

Erik van HurckSenior PPM consultant, Projectum

Erik van Hurck

A productive Project Manager knows how to use “communication” to his/her advantage. In the current age, technology is everywhere. And with the newest line of applications, communication is made very easy. Use applications to leverage any part of the project and the interaction with its team members. Create a chat room, start a meeting that can be recorded at any time, take notes, share task reports and files with team members and more.

My advice to anyone who seeks to become a better, more productive, project manager would be to develop communication skills and learn which IT components are available to assist him/her in making communication easy for everyone on the team.

Enhance productivity by developing communication skills and learning what all tools can assist them to communicate with other team members in real-time.Tweet this

Sahil ParikhFounder, Brightpod

Sahil Parikh

To be a productive and efficient project manager, you need to:

  • Plan the day before or plan on Sunday evenings for the week
  • Use a project/ task management software to stay on top of all your work
  • Connect with the team at least once a day
  • Manage your time wisely between delegating, planning and organizing your and your team’s work.

Planning your work ahead of time and taking into account the possibilities of scope creep can help you improve your productivity as a manager.Tweet this

Mike McRitchieProgram Manager, MasTec Network Solutions

Be A Detective

Being a good project manager is about understanding the big picture and the elements that make it up. Too often I see fuzzy or lazy thinking. Where squishy, general statements are given.

As an effective project manager you must dig in and ask yourself:

  • What’s the current status?
  • What’s the next step and who owns it?
  • What must happen before the next step can be taken?
  • What isn’t being said that would be a roadblock?
  • Does this impact the critical path?

By sleuthing out the details and uncovering the hidden pitfalls, you’ll deliver more projects on time and under budget.Tweet this

Brett HarnedDirector of Education, TeamGantt

Productivity as a PM can be very difficult, because we’re often pulled in many directions, managing multiple tasks, people, and projects at the same time. My best tip to stay productive is to block out time on your calendar so you can get to the things that are important, but often suffer: updating your plans, checking in on your budgets, and writing status reports.

I also like to carve out time in my morning to focus on my to-do list. Taking just 10-15 minutes to focus on my priorities for the day helps me to set goals and feel accomplished when I meet them by the end of the day.

Best tip to stay productive is to block out time on your calendar so you can get to the things that are important.Tweet this

Johanna RothmanProduct Development Manager, Rothman Consulting Group

 Johanna Rothman

  • Know the “why” behind your project. What is the project vision? Who will benefit? When you know who the customers are and why they want you to solve this problem, you can focus the entire team on solving the problem(s) for the customers.
  • Know what done means. What is your release criteria, how you know you will be done?
  • Everything else arises from starting well and knowing how to finish.
  • Make all the work in the near term visible. I happen to like cards on the wall because the wall has a finite height. I like seeing all the states of the work in progress.
  • The more transparency you and your project team have, the more likely you are to succeed. Create transparency for everything.

Clear project vision and its importance for the organization can help you become a productive project manager.Tweet this

Gail GardnerBusiness Marketing Strategist, Growmap


  • Product project managers must use an easy project management software and take responsibility for training their entire team on using that system. Without it, important deadlines are bound to be missed as tasks fall through the cracks.
  • Set it up intuitively, be patient when training, and open to answering questions to get a higher rate of use. Encourage your users with kind words and assistance whenever needed.
    Keep in mind that they don’t know the PM system as well as you do. Make interactions in and about it a pleasant experience so they will enjoy it.
  • Work to get them to sign in regularly and keep all interactions about a task in that task. Personally, I turn off email notifications because I log in there as much or more than email. Why do double work when it isn’t necessary? The point of a system is to keep everything organized in one place for easy reference and retrieval.

Incorporate the use of a PM tool to enhance your productivity and that of your team members. Also, make sure that your team and you are well versed with its
use. Tweet this

Bottom Line

It all boils down to providing deliverable to your clients and other stakeholders within the set deadline. You, the productive project manager, would not only take care of that aspect but will also motivate your team members across departments to work towards improving their productivity and skills too. That means, you becoming super productive will profit both the organization and your team members!

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About the author

David is a Project Management expert. He has been published in elearningindustry.com, simpleprogrammer.com. As a project planning and execution expert at ProProfs, he has offered a unique outlook on improving workflows and team efficiency. Connect with David for more engaging conversations on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.