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The Best Ways to Be a Productive Project Manager

productiveWritten by Jordan Echols

Project Managers are known for their punctuality. This comes as no surprise since the role of a project manager focuses heavily on keeping a project and its team on time, within budget and scope. However, a question we often hear from our staffing clients, is “how do you stay productive?” In a world full of distractions from texting to social media, we absolutely understand that productivity is a concern. So, what are five ways to stay productive as a project manager? The answer is fairly simple: take walk breaks, make a to-do list, don’t save passwords, set goals and utilize project specific applications.

Which Ways Are You Unproductive?

First, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much of your day is spent doing something other than work?
  • Do you find yourself mindlessly working on tasks that aren’t a priority?
  • Have you suddenly wasted an hour doing something irrelevant?

It happens more often than we realize, but what can we do about it?


Take Walk Breaks

Sitting still for more than an hour without being distracted can be difficult in the traditional, 9 to 5 work day world.

It’s good to make a point to get up at least once an hour and do a lap around the office – whether inside or outside. Utilize the five minutes to ask a fellow coworker about their day, check the status of a particular project, or to grab a cup of coffee.

Walking is a natural way to wake the body up thus stimulating the brain. From that, you may find it easier to overcome a challenge you’ve been thinking over or spark some inspiration for a new idea!


Are To-Do Lists Outdated?

Today, making lists can be done virtually with a number of web and mobile applications, specifically, Trello. Whether you prefer digital or the old-fashioned way of handwriting a to-do list, making lists is a great way to stay on top of your day. In addition, it is a simple way to remember everything you’ve got to get done.

It is human nature to feel a sense of reward when crossing things off of a list. Think of it like completing a puzzle. The satisfaction of placing that last piece, being able to see how much hard work has gone into putting the pieces together – it feels great, doesn’t it?


A checkmark can make you feel like you accomplished something, and who doesn’t like that? Not sure where to start?

First, start by writing down the items you know you’ll need to complete by end-of-day in order to keep your list prioritized. Then move on to lower priority tasks and items that can be worked on when you need a break from the more demanding items.

If you don’t complete all tasks on your list by the end of the day, start a new list for next day. By keeping track of the work you haven’t finished yet, you’ll begin to feel more productive once items get checked off the list. 

Should I Save Passwords On My Computer?

It’s easy to say yes when your computer asks if you’d like for it so save your password. Usually, this is something we’d want it to do to help keep track of them!

On the downside, you’re much more likely to jump on your favorite social media site more often during the day if you auto login.

Take it a step further and keep your phone in your desk drawer, or, if you can manage without, leave it in your car. The fewer distractions around, such as the light, sound or vibration from the phone, the more productive you’ll end up being during the workday.


Goal Setting

Having something to look forward to boosts motivation.

Setting goals at work is a great way to track progress. Motivation can turn into productivity because if you’re into the goal you’ve set for yourself, you’re more likely to work towards it and get it done.

Try this first – set a timed goal. Say you have a status report to complete – give yourself 30 minutes to get it done and make a game out of it. Tell yourself, ‘I’ve got 30 minutes to do this and if I’m done in that amount of time, I’ll walk downstairs and treat myself to a latte from the cafe downstairs.’

Once you’ve tackled the thought of daily goals, try setting a weekly goal, then a monthly goal. The more goals you set, the more work you’ll get done.

Utilize Software

There are hundreds of different types of software you can use to stay productive. From applications that can track time, progress and tasks to applications that will block social media platforms to lessen your distractions – you can find exactly what it is you’re looking for that will help you have a productive work day.

Being productive can be a challenge, but it isn’t an unobtainable goal! Be sure to try taking walk breaks, keeping your phone hidden, not allowing the computer to save your passwords, setting goals and utilizing time management software, and let us know if you increased your productivity. Have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments!


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