Day by day, I noted the significant events that happened on the project that I currently lead.
Here, I’ll describe all these events day by day. The best thing about it?
I share tons of great tips, trick, and insights for real-world practical project management.
Let get started!
Monday: A Day in the Life of a Project Manager
And today is Monday.
So the first thing that I do when I come to an office in the morning routine.
Morning Routine of a Project Manager (30 minutes)
I’ve developed this routine throughout many years. It helps me make the start of the day as efficient as possible.
First, I review all emails that came to me from the previous day.
Here I apply a two-minute rule:
- If I can answer the question, answer the email in two minutes, I do it right away.
- If an email requires more time to answer, I plan this answer somewhere in this day or the next day (e.g., I need to collect information or prepare some more meaningful response)
- If it requires a lot of time, I put it into the calendar in one of the “deep work” slots.
Next, I review our task tracker.
Currently, it’s Microsoft Azure DevOps .
First, I check the burndown chart.
(If it looks normal, I may ignore all the rest and proceed to other tasks.)
Then I look into the tasks that are currently in progress. I want to ensure that everyone works towards the deliverables that are currently the top priority.
Next, I review new defects and new tasks that may appear for the current assignments of team members.
But if I have some questions, I don’t interrupt the team’s work. I collect all the questions for the daily meeting that comes in an hour.
Quick Check-Up with Team Leads (10 minutes)
When I’m done with the morning routine, I continue collecting pressing matters from my team leaders.
They often communicate with other departments and other team members during the day and encounter some problems.
This way I’m aware of what’s happening on their side, what’s on their plate.
As we’re co-located in one room, it’s just a shout-out to my team leads:
“Is there something important that I should know?”
For example, on Monday, I learned about a problem with the DevOps team. They didn’t correctly communicate that there is a problem with our system. So other team members didn’t know about this problem.
So I do the morning routine and then collect pressing problems the first thing in the morning to prepare for the daily sync-up meeting with the team.
This Monday wasn’t too active in the beginning. So, before the daily sync-up meeting, I spend the rest of the time answering other emails that I planned to.
Daily Sync-Up Meeting (30 minutes)
Next comes the daily sync-up meeting with the team.
I try to do it efficiently only once a day during the 30 minutes meeting.
It is just a daily Scrum meeting.
Every team member reports what he was doing yesterday, what he is going to do today, and the main problems and challenges he or she’s facing.
For me, it’s the main chance to align the team’s work towards the major deliverables that we should focus on.
But also, here, I delegate tasks based on the information that I got during the morning routine and collecting all of the pressing matters.
Here’s an important thing:
In these meetings, we usually highlight the problems. We don’t discuss them directly here.
Two minutes rule comes into play again:
If we can’t resolve the problem in two minutes at the meeting, we move it to the time after the meeting. We spend these two minutes identifying the best next step.
Here’s a nice thing:
During this meeting, one team member said it would be good to have a drink together somewhere during the week.
Well, why not? It’s a great idea!
So we agreed to do that, right in the office after work on Thursday.
Time Slot for the Most Pressing Metter
Right after the sync-up meeting, there’s a dedicated 30-minutes time slot of free space.
Here we discuss major problems that we highlighted during the sync-up. We do it in smaller groups.
So, for example:
- One team member had to discuss some requirements with our business analyst.
- Another team member needed to clarify how to test new functionality with a QA engineer.
- I created an event for the small drinking party that we agreed to have.
As you see, sometimes issues on a project are pretty trivial.
My Deep Work Slot (1-1.5 hours)
After morning meetings with the team, I have a block of time for about an hour or an hour and a half to do some deep work.
Usually, I dedicate this period to some vital project management work that I need to do. Therefore, I shouldn’t be interrupted.
Let me walk you through.
I usually write some difficult emails or create reports, proposals, or update the project’s documentation.
I put my headphones on, turn off email, skype, and other distractions. I even “disconnect” from the team.
What was the catch today?
I decided that to take a piece of the project work (not project management).
It was a bad idea. You’ll learn why in the stories for the next few days. Keep on reading.
I want to test functionality where the application upgrades to the latest version.
So why did I choose to do this work myself rather than delegating it to other team members?
First of all, everyone is busy right now with top priority tasks. And I want to check it as soon as possible.
Second, it requires efficient direct communication with the DevOps team. And with my authority as a project manager, I get responses much quicker.
So I tested the upgrade, it didn’t work.
I had to write an email to the DevOps team. Shortly, they called me for a meeting to clarify the problem.
After that, they made some changes, and I retested. But it didn’t work again.
So, they wrote me that they need more time to investigate the problem.
That’s fine because my time was running out for these activities.
Now, this is important…
During all this time, I wasn’t multitasking much.
There were some questions and answers from the team, but I stayed focused to finish the task to the end.
Yes, it didn’t happen, but I did everything I could to resolve it right at this point.
Daily Team Building Effort
During the day, I usually dedicate some time to ongoing team-building activities.
However, on Monday, I combined the useful with pleasant.
I took one of my team members, and we went to a recreation room and played some FIFA on PlayStation.
Preparation for Daily Progress Report Meeting with Clients (30 minutes)
Next, I start to prepare for my daily meeting with clients.
By the way, it’s a great practice to have daily communication with your clients and key stakeholders. So if you can – you MUST arrange it.
Here’s the exciting part:
I lead this meeting for them to make it as efficient as possible.
We have a tracking list of items that we, as management and leadership, should resolve so that the project team can work without any impediments.
Here’s how I do it:
- I update this tracking list before the meeting.
- I collect all the essential topics I want to discuss with them and write them down there.
- I collect the information or results of work from the tasks that I delegated to team members.
And the final point about this process…
If the list of topics to discuss is too long and we cannot discuss it in the 30 minutes allocated, it’s my responsibility to prioritize this list and select only the most pressing problems.
Daily Progress Report Meeting with Clients (30 minutes)
We are in different time zones with clients. When they start their day when we are close to finishing it.
By the way, that’s why my working day is shifted towards the evenings, so that we have some overlap with clients.
It’s a voice conference, and as I said, we get through our tracking list, and we resolve problems that impede our work.
If needed, clients can ask me to add something to this tracking list, and I will track it going forward.
Evening Routine of an IT Project Manager
So after the daily meeting with the clients, I get into the evening routine.
First of all, I send the meeting notes, with all the actions that everyone needs to take.
Then I respond to the urgent emails that came during this day.
I can almost hear you thinking…
Yes, I do try to respond to emails only twice a day.
Let me explain.
If there’s something urgent and I need to respond as soon as possible, people will write me an instant message or call me directly.
As you might have noticed, I am working part-time right now. So I’m 75% engaged in the project and 25% involved in recording these videos.
Also, clients and stakeholders may provide some input or a request at the end of our day.
That’s why I need a short meeting with my team leaders to add just the team’s work in the morning while I am not in the office.
Planning Out Activities for the Next Day
And last but not least, I plan my next day.
As you can see, right away:
- I have a daily stand-up meeting.
- I have my block for deep work that I didn’t finish yesterday.
- And I have my regular preparation for and meeting with clients.
- And for Thursday evening, I planned our team-building activities.
Tuesday was a mess. And if you want to learn how it went all to hell, keep on reading.
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