Three PM Mistakes to Avoid


We’ve all been there. Every once in a while you may come in contact with these classic “mistakes” or rather, slips, that can easily throw you off track. “Why did I just hit send?”, “I have something to do… but I can’t remember what it is”. Speaking with PMs in the community, I have compiled a list of three setbacks that seem to throw a monkey wrench into the everyday workflow. Read on to find out more information on how to better time manage, be proactive and assure that the team is always included.

1.  Being reactive
Imagine this. You’re in the middle of writing a detailed document to pass along to the programming team, and then it happens… you hear the email ring chime go off and in the corner of your screen you see an email come in. You immediately stop what you’re doing, open up your email, and start responding. It all spirals from there. 10 minutes later, you forget what you were working on beforehand. It’s easy to be reactive. What if for 10 minutes you were to stay on task and wrap up that document? You’d have one item scratched off your daily to-do list, and then focus your full attention on that email. I am certainly guilty of this as throughout any given day, there are a handful of people I am waiting to hear from. How do you get past this? I found it is best to turn off your email for 15 minutes to give your full attention to the task at hand.

2.  Answering an email vs. a 2 minute phone call
This is how your Monday morning goes. You settle in at your desk from the weekend with your morning cup of coffee, open your email, and start spewing out responses. Although helpful in keeping a record of progress updates and tracking projects, could this be solved over a 2 minute call vs. a 20 minute email-followup? We’ve been there many times. You slave over a 20 minute email wondering “Does this make sense?”, and wind up receiving a call from your client to review further. Once you’re wrapped up on the call and the client is fully downloaded, you’re 30-45 minutes down the drain and realize that could have been accomplished in less than 5 minutes on the phone. My motto in solving this: when in doubt, pick up the phone. Plus it’s nice to touch base now-and-again so they remember you’re a real person, and not just someone behind a computer.

3.  “I” vs. “We”
Have you ever been in a meeting where someone is constantly taking the credit, “I did this” and “I did that”? That’s what we like to refer to as “I” thinking. In an agency, and all work environments, it should be “we”… after all, we are a team. It’s easy to get mixed up since as a PM you are the primary contact with the client so taking credit for designs and development can be fairly easy and a quick way to get the point across. However, keeping the the team members momentum up by getting them involved throughout the process not only helps get it to the finish line with a product everyone is happy with, but holds everyone accountable. At the end of the day, you want the client to be happy and the company/team to be proud of the final result.

These 3 slips are ones that I have personally experienced, and continue to work through with the team’s help. Now having greater insight into a PM, I am curious as a designer, developer or programmer, what slips come to mind that dictate your weekly progress?

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