It's day two of 2018. Have you made any New Year's Resolutions? If you're already struggling to come up with some, we're here to help.

As project managers, we're constantly striving to improve ourselves and streamline our projects so that customers' needs are met and budgets don't balloon — so why not consider making resolutions that will help our careers? And hopefully also lead to stellar annual performance reports.

If you need some resolution inspiration for yourself, we've saved you the effort of Googling. Here are five New Year's resolutions that every project manager should consider for 2018:

1. "I will stop managing Outlook and start managing work."

Horrifying fact: we spend 4.1 hours with our nose in our inbox each day. According to a survey launched by Adobe, that’s 20.5 hours each week, and more than 1,000 hours each year. It's impossible to get work done when you're constantly in Outlook (or Gmail, or Apple Mail) searching for attachments, responding to emergencies, and asking for status updates on project components.

Email is quite possibly the worst way to manage projects, but we rely on it because it's convenient. What we fail to notice is that sending a message isn't the same as someone acting on it. Just see Plougmann's 10-to-1 Rule of Email for a hilarious illustration of the email black hole:

Instead, invest the time to find a project management software that will allow you to manage your projects AWAY from your inbox. Use email for what it's good for: brief, non-urgent messages or updates, and reminders.

2. "I will track time and costs more efficiently."

Two resources that you'll never have enough of are time and money. Cutting costs is a way of life in the project world, but you won't know where to snip unless you know where your resources are going. Tracking and monitoring efficiently can help you pinpoint areas where you can save your business or clients money.

3. "I (and my team) will communicate with stakeholders early and often."

Too many project manager horror stories stem from teams not communicating directly with stakeholders. Why not build a habit of communicating with them early in the process so you can manage these people (and their expectations) more effectively? Holding a quick kickoff meeting should help rope in stakeholders like contractors, clients, and internal contributors, as well as introduce them to the project team. Fostering communication between stakeholders and your team should be a constant goal throughout the project.

Here's one real-life horror story we covered in our recent Slideshare "Project Managers from Hell":

Slideshare: Project Managers from Hell!

4. "I will identify bottlenecks early."

If you closely follow up on action items assigned to your team, you'll spot the people running behind on their commitments early on. Note: this is not a suggestion that you micromanage. Simply pay more attention to the status of every project component.

Your project management tool should give you visibility into what every member is doing at any given time. By keeping a constant eye out for problems, you can catch snags in the process and fix problems while they're small.

5. "I will talk less and listen more."

According to a report by the Project Management Institute, one out of every five projects fails due to ineffective communications, proving how important it is to communicate.

Communication is not just talking, (or writing, or sending messages) but also actively listening. Be there to hear team members' challenges and then help them remove roadblocks. Listen to why a stakeholder is suddenly stalling your progress, try to determine the motivations behind their behavior, and come up with a solution — together.

Putting Them Into Practice

So much of successful project management depends on excellent communication that making it a priority this year is probably the best thing you can do to improve your PM skill set.


Top Image Credits: "Photo Tips" by Stacie. Some rights reserved. Image edited.