10 Habits of Successful Project Managers

Looking for ways to be more productive every single day as a project manager or assistant project manager? Studies show that developing habits designed to overcome procrastination, get to the final product, and focus on daily accomplishments have the greatest impact on productivity. However, successful project managers are not born overnight. Most of the time, they work hard toward developing good work habits that will positively impact their professional lives. 

Become a more dynamic and impactful leader by forming healthy and productive habits that will help you achieve success. This is especially important during times of great change, grief, and anger. With these 10 helpful habits and action steps, you can learn how to be a successful project manager and leader.

Why developing good work habits is important

Developing good work habits is important because it creates a foundation for 45% of your daily actions, most of which you perform on autopilot. Because routines and habits are proven to consume less brain energy, you’ll have more time and mental space to creatively problem-solve issues as they come up. Once you put these habits of highly effective people and project managers into place, you and your team’s productivity will increase. 

How to be a successful project manager 

Here are 10 habits that will teach you how to be a successful project manager who leads by example and gets more done. In order to complete this list, you’ll have to practice discipline and continue learning about productivity long term — both of which are highly valuable leadership skills. 

1. Regularly share project data with clients 

Automate report and timeline snapshot sharing by giving clients access to your project management software through a link or a personal dashboard login. Good work habits such as this one help keep clients in the loop, build trust and rapport between project stakeholders, and make space to pivot in case problems arise during the project life cycle.

2. Track how your team spends their time and root out inefficiencies 

Implement and encourage task timing so you can more accurately plot out project timelines in the future and track inefficient or non-billable duties.

3. Dedicate time to risk management every week 

Put a non-negotiable thirty-minute check-in meeting with yourself once a week to go over all active projects. Look at team feedback and task delays then use that information to proactively tackle issues before they come up. 

4. Create a repeatable template for all recurring processes 

If you have a recurring project or a new project that resembles an old one, don’t reinvent the wheel every time. Instead, save yourself two or more hours by templatizing workflows, project types, and tasks. 

And if you use project management software, project templates may already be available for you. Make a quick list of the top three to five project types or workflows you regularly create. Then, either look for past successful projects that you want to mimic and repeat or create a dream process outline for each of them. 

5. Do a daily budget and expense check-in 

Tracking your finances every single day is essential for remaining on track, especially when team members are authorized to spend project budgets as needed. Attach this habit to your morning email routine. Spend 15 to 30 minutes reviewing all open budgets, expense updates, and team messages about finance in order to stay on top of everything at once. 

6. Create a workflow for dealing with unexpected roadblocks 

Turn failure into success by reviewing issues from past projects and creating a workflow or action plan for what you’ll do if that problem comes up again. Share it with your team to help get them on the same page and eliminate time spent on unnecessary email question chains and emergency meetings. 

7. Use a visual goal-setting system 

People who vividly describe and display their goals are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to achieve them. Adopt a project management system that uses Gantt charts, graphs, and color-coded timelines to display multiple open projects in a visual way that’s easy to understand at a glance. 

8. Set individual task priorities and deadlines for the entire team 

Long deadlines lead to procrastination because workers often see the task as being harder or requiring more resources than it actually needs due to an inherent cognitive bias. To combat this, make sure you also plot out mini-deadlines within longer ones to help break up their mental stigma against any task that takes longer than two weeks to complete. 

9. Dedicate some time to personal growth and learning 

Learning a new project management skill can improve the quality of your work and encourage higher productivity. Choose one new industry topic, related book, or relevant project management course to work on every single month. 

10. Make schedule review second nature

Productivity thought leaders swear by the weekly review habit for getting more done, streamlining systems, and staying caught up on multiple open projects. Not only will it improve your gut reaction time when making decisions but it will also help you overcome potential distractions before they pile up. 

Set aside one hour a week to go over what projects are done, in progress, and waiting in the queue. Catch up on messages from clients and team members and compare your projected timelines and budgets with current progress — then adjust as needed. 

Use Wrike to support your journey to developing good work habits 

By now you’ve learned why good work habits matter, plus 10 tips you can use to get started on your journey to joining the ranks of other successful project managers. 

Most of these highly effective productivity tips can be automated with Wrike using project management features such as task timing, project templates, and client dashboards. Start developing good work habits and become more productive with a free two-week trial.

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