Posted by: kerrywills | March 13, 2010

Tip: Make time for the right things

A Project Manager must make sure that they prioritize their time to focus on high value activities that will help them and their teams to be successful. There are many techniques for being an effective Project Manager, but they all require being proactive and spending time on them. Some of the important activities where a Project Manager needs to spend time includes:

  • Looking ahead at the project plan to identify upcoming activities and plan accordingly for them
  • Management by walking around (MBWA) to obtain critical project information and build rapport with team members
  • Building and fostering relationships with team members and stakeholders
  • Communicating project information to stakeholders
  • Recognizing and celebrating successes
  • Being available at their desk for real-time conversations and walk-ins from project team members
  • Preparing for meetings by gathering information, soliciting input and considering the audience
  • Looking at informative metrics to understand the progress of the project and key risk areas
  • Proactively considering risks to the project and the proper mitigations

There is an inverse relationship between the workload/meetings that a Project Manager has and their ability to focus on the proactive activities. The more time that a Project Manager can free up, the more time they can spend on being proactive. What happens is that Project Managers can sometime lose the ability to be proactive and only focus on the issues at hand, which results in quickly falling behind in their ability to manage all of the project activities.

Too Many Many Meetings Can Impact Us All

In order for a Project Manager to focus time on the proactive activities, they will need to reprioritize their attention. This probably means not attending some meetings and freeing up time on their calendars. There are a few ways to make time for these activities:

  • Empower team members to own pieces of work. This will free up time to focus on other activities and will also improve morale and motivation of the team.
  • Get help. Some projects create a Project Management Office (PMO) to run the operational aspects of the project such as financial management, metrics, resource planning and communications. This allows the Project Manager to get the information they need to manage the project but not spend the time in collecting it.
  • Do not go to all meetings. Once the team members are empowered, the Project Manager should determine the critical meetings which ones they need to attend. This is not to say that they shouldn’t read meeting minutes or understand the details of the project.
  • Block off calendar. Blocking time on the calendar for “office time” or to walk the floors is an effective technique for planning to perform those activities before calendars fill up with meeting invites.

Note: This is an excerpt from my upcoming book and will be copyrighted text


  1. sorry to ask you this question, but I saw on a website where a year ago you talked about feedburner not showing your subscribers even though you had some.

    “Since I added the link people have signed up but the stat still says 0. I suspect that either (1) it takes time to calculate or (2) it will calculate once I post my next blog ”

    did that end up being true?

    • Chad – it took a few days but now it works

  2. Kerry,

    Your excerpt makes sense to me. The MBWA can be so important, however, the newer PM might be tempted to stay on the phone, schedule conference calls and meetings, but miss the one on one sessions that tend to be more productive and less politically correct at times!

    Many of these recommendations are the same regardless of your role, but especially critial in PM roles.

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