What’s in my PM toolkit?

Project management as a discipline is often seen as a means to meeting client needs and ensuring project profitability. But at its heart, the role of project manager is to support and take care of their team.

In the time of COVID-19, we need our tools and processes to work a little harder for us, and give us the space to take care of ourselves, too. As we’re all experiencing right now, there’s an element of trial and error to figuring out what works — and what adds more work — to our workdays.

Below, Athletics Project Managers Lorraine Kim and Allie Stenclik share some of the tricks and tips in the toolkit they use in their remote-work lives, helping keep their teams, and themselves, a little more sane.

1. Notion (Tool)

Keeping project communications centralized and easily-accessible for collaboration has become crucial to our process during this remote period. Athletics has evolved our processes on the platform Notion, developing task management boards, project dashboards, meeting note-taking templates, and much more. With its modularity and flexibility, we’ve been able to adapt across multidisciplinary teams.

2. PM Shimmy (Culture)

As our account directors, project managers, and producers rarely work on the same projects at once, we’ve created rituals to keep in touch, like organizing a catch-all standing meeting for the accounts and production teams to connect daily called the ‘Project Shimmy.’ Sometimes we talk through work or process pain-points we’re encountering. Other times, we simply shimmy.

3. Schedules Schedules Schedules (Self)

Scheduling is a balance. We strive to keep our projects and clients on track, but we also need time for focused work and breaks during the day. Led by our operations team, we’ve worked to build in time for our teams to connect and get some downtime during the day. Keeping our beloved afternoon tea break alive, we host a daily virtual Tea Time for folks to gather around the virtual kettle and chat.

4. Slack (Tool) 

Slack is the can’t-live-with, can’t-live-without productivity tool. But like any software, the problem isn’t the tool, but rather how we wield it. Across Athletics, our teams use the statuses feature to denote when we’re talking lunch breaks, when we’ve stepped away from our screens, when we’re focusing or have a deadline, or when we’re in a meeting. It’s the easiest way to let our peers know if we’re not readily available.

5. Rituals (Self)

From our perspective, the most important “productivity” tool is taking care of ourselves and one another. Lorraine starts her day with a Chemex coffee brewing ritual to clear her head and mentally prepare for the day before getting online. For Allie, the last thing on her to-do list every day is to draft tomorrow’s to-do list. But the ritual that both Allie and Lorraine agree on (along with everyone in Stretch Club!) is taking tiny stretch breaks between meetings and emails. Forward folds are the quickest way to clear your head, and hip stretches are even more critical to fend off that work-from-couch fatigue.