6 Productivity Tool Hacks for Project Managers

To-do App

  • At the start of each month look at your project roadmap for the specific goals you have to achieve. Break those monthly actions into weekly routines or targets and from their daily tasks. Add the activities to achieve those goals to your To-do App
  • Constantly update the task within your To-do app to ensure it’s up-to-date with the latest activities.
  • Avoid clustering your to-do app with small recurring tasks and meetings.
  • Create a Prioritization matrix by highlighting those that are Urgent, Critical, Medium, Low.
  • Urgent/Critical: This should be very rare, however, any change or risk that pops up within your project that needs immediate attention should receive this label.
  • Medium: should be your everyday PM task such as reports, update documentation, etc.
  • Low: typical tasks to delegate, however, the activities here require follow-up with the individual instructed to carry it out.
  • Set up recurring features for Daily, Weekly, and Monthly activities with reminders if the app allows for this.

Notepad

  • For a PM taking notes differs incredibly from mere meeting minutes. Your notes should capture these three (3) boxes:
  • Highlights (discussions around a specific topic),
  • Next steps (identify activities, owners, due date),
  • Key Discussion (Any group-wide consensus)
  • Allow for your Notepad format to align with your meeting layout to be able to capture information easily.
  • Learn to capture notes using shorthand and phrases this will keep a meeting flowing and completed within the timeframe set out.
  • Share your meeting notes with the stakeholders for that session ideally within 24 hours of the session.

Calendar

  • Organize your calendar using various sub-calendars to separate various projects (for example Out of office, Important meeting sessions, etc) utilizing the color-coding options. This will help you understand how the majority of your time is being spent.
  • When setting up a meeting session ensure the title description is clear to everyone. The structure can include the “[Project Name] [Goal to achieve]” using words like — Align, Discuss, Sync.
  • Outline the details within your calendar following the PODA principle [Purpose, Objective, Deliverables, and Agenda]. This will ensure clarity for attendees.
  • Track holidays and personal time-offs of all your team members within your calendar. Having an idea of the schedules of the team helps when planning out various aspects of your project.
  • Ensure you block out periods on your calendar to gather yourself and to focus on the Project Administration tasks.
  • Ensure your calendar isn’t crammed with sessions. Here are a few ratio suggestions to ensure some level of flexibility for unexpected events:
  • Only have up to 40% of your calendar filled with the next week’s events.
  • At the start of any day ensure that 80–90% of your calendar is filled with activities and meetings.

Email

  • Check your email 2–3 times per day, unless you were awaiting a response for a document and/or decision.
  • Ensure the email thread is in line with the email title. If the discussion starts to move into another topic create a new thread with an appropriate title.
  • After 5 or more back and forth, it’s best to set up a meeting session to discuss.
  • Allow the email format to be simple and to the point (avoid writing out long emails with paragraphs).
  • Email layout should include:
  • Create email groups, this will prevent you from unintentionally excluding someone from an important email.
  • Clean your inbox to ensure your email is clutter-free. Having a cluttered inbox can make persons feel overwhelmed. Utilize those three (3) check points to go through your email, highlight important ones that require a response, and those you just need to make notes from.

Powerpoint

  • Utilize a Slide deck to ensure the majority of the meeting stays within the scope of the Objective and Agenda.
  • Prep your slide deck at least a day before the session to ensure all the details are up-to-date.
  • Create templates for [Project Kickoff, Meeting session, Project Status update, etc]; these are all common sessions for all sorts of projects.
  • Keep it simple; use tables, charts where applicable to avoid over-complexity.

Cloud Storage

  • Cloud storage increases collaboration when developing a project artifact that requires one or more persons working on a single document.
  • Create a project folder for all projects with sub-folders to archive documents within a system that is easy to follow.
  • Create a number system to keep the order of all the folders example [01 Program Management, 02 Resource, 03 Status Report, etc]. This will ensure all project folders are identical
  • All project artifacts and materials should fit into one of the folder buckets and the latest version should be archived in real-time.

Conclusion

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Oldane Graham

Oldane Graham

Software Consultant | Project Manager | Certified Scrum Master | Agile Enthusiast | Digital Nomad| Blogger