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50 Quick Project Management Tips

50 Tips for Managing Projects

Long-time reader Jim Hurst got in touch to share his top project management tips, his list of things he wishes he could try to remember to help him do his job better. He says, “I’ve come to realise that I’ll never have the project management-role ‘nailed’ but am a better PM for knowing that and for being reflective.”

I can certainly relate to these suggestions (and I love anything that makes reference to NCIS). I see a lot of number 46! I hope you can too. Thanks, Jim, for letting me share the list.

Jim’s Golden Rules of Project Management (based on Gibbs, NCIS: “He who herds cats”)

  1. There can never be enough communication – communicate, communicate, communicate.
  2. You ALWAYS need a plan (fail to plan, plan to fail).
  3. EVIDENCE, EVIDENCE, EVIDENCE – “CSI project management”.
  4. Project MANAGE, don’t Project DO = doomed!
  5. Never make any assumptions = project kryptonite.
  6. Always check, check and check again. People forget.
  7. Don’t be late. Set the example and keep to it.
  8. Be reflective, even when you know no one else is.
  9. Be wary of the grinning salesmen. Don’t trust them!
  10. Get real commitment (quote/dates) from third parties.
  11. Accept sometimes you can be wrong and admit it.
  12. The rule of 5 W’s – why, why, why, why and why.
  13. Any overspends need to be agreed upfront.
  14. Project methodology AGNOSTIC, best of breed.
  15. Type up minutes/actions as soon as possible post-meeting or forget.
  16. Book meetings at least 3 months in advance.
  17. Check ALL booked meetings, rooms and attendees.
  18. Remember the historic projects feedback.
  19. Exist somewhere between the Dance Floor and Balcony.
  20. Manage the Meeting – one person talking/watch the clock.
  21. Always make time to listen and empathise.
  22. Be prepared – “semper paratus”.
  23. Don’t waste time, a PM’s job is never finished.
  24. Don’t put it off until tomorrow, scissor tackle today!
  25. It is your job to HELP people deliver.
  26. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”
  27. Make sure you can find stuff when you need it or you’ll waste time later.
  28. You never stop learning.
  29. When you think you know it all, you are further away than you have ever been to it!
  30. Concentrate on the things that matter – rule of 80/20.
  31. Don’t forget to say ‘well done, thank you’ – it costs nothing, literally.
  32. Focus on the original objective. Don’t get distracted.
  33. NO surprises are allowed. NO black holes.
  34. Perfect is the enemy of good – Voltaire.
  35. Time spent on contracts is time well spent!
  36. Don’t underestimate the value of ‘the architect’ – BA role.
  37. Always check your Outlook reminders or you’ll get chased up!
  38. If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs – R Kipling.
  39. Trust yourself, your experience and project to date, to hold the course.
  40. Get confirmation on minutes/actions before meeting.
  41. “If you haven’t planned it, you can’t control it.”
  42. Keep your eyes on the prize/ball!
  43. Best case scenario does not exist.
  44. ‘The 411’ or just the facts – Who, what, where, when, how and why.
  45. Find out the WIIFM or whiff em – what’s in it for me.
  46. A task is not done until it’s done. Avoid 90% syndrome.
  47. If everything is under control, go up a gear.
  48. It’s easy to see, harder to foresee.
  49. Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help.
  50. A project manager is only as good as his/her team. Defer to their experience/skills.

And a bonus quote:

  1.    “Never eat more than you can lift” – Miss Piggy.

Hope you enjoyed that!

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Quick tips to improve your project management

About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin FAPM is a professional project manager and award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.
Elizabeth lives in the UK with her family. She uses her organisation and project management skills at home, and also to help other bloggers at Totally Organised Blogging.


  1. Using a project management tool could really help a manager save time and efforts. The ability to know what new technology & tools to use when and how to use them is one skill a manager must have. Like using a project management tool could really help a manager manage much more efficiently. We use at work and it’s an amazing tool. From tasks & team to time, it manages it all!

  2. I think that rule 1 is not true. Just think, what will you do when you get dozen of e-mails from your PM all with small piece of irrelevant information – you will stop reading the e-mails or won’t read the really important one. That’s why you should ALWAYS create a COMMUNICATION PLAN!

    Next, booking meetings 3 months before? Yeah, right… For all types of project? Bon chance.

    Nevertheless, some of the rules are OK.

    • Hi Lukasz. The rules won’t work in every situation, but I’m glad you found something in there that you think is OK! I do try to book meetings in advance but only the ‘structured’ meetings like project boards and steering groups. That’s because I know they are definitely required and the people attending are often busy. If you don’t book early, you don’t get their time. I also schedule regular weekly recurring team meetings and then cancel them when not required. But I agree that other types of meeting need to be more ad hoc. And yes, you should always create a communications plan!

  3. You have no idea how stoked I am to find this blog! I just started (6 days ago) a blog myself — a personal project to scrum all of my life goals. It seemed like the next step for me after doing some project management during my workday and kind of struggling to meet all of my goals after hours, so it’s going to be a fun project for me.

    Anyway! I was browsing around and found your site, and it’s great. I’m preparing for the P.M.P. right now and I can’t wait to read more of your blog and apply your insight to my career and personal life.


  4. Great list, just forwarded to my PCs and PMs for our Wednesday Lunch and Learn


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