Everyday we start our day planning to accomplish something. Everyone has something that they wish to do even if that is sleep in. So how do you keep your life in order? How do you make sure you succeed? These may sound like big questions for everyday life, but we our creatures that need structure to control the chaos. We have stop signs, rules, and even nature is on a schedule; sun up to sun down. I think everyone should understand what project management is and how to use it. Whether you are a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) or trying to figure out how to manage your to do list and keep your sanity, project management can help you manage your day.
I can testify to this from both sides because I used project management to plan my career long before I was ever a project manager. I continue to use project management as a project manager managing large teams and hundreds of tasks across a tight time line. It doesn’t matter where you fit between those two skill levels and that is the beauty of project management. Most people don’t realize they use project management or even already are, but with out the title.
This is how I manage the tasks in my life, whether its buying flowers for my wife or planning the transition of a customer’s infrastructure. Here are some simple steps that I take at a basic level.
1. I first look at what I want or need to accomplish.
2. Who am I trying to accomplish this for? – This provides me a few useful hints such as my authority to get it done, authorization to proceed, and the level of importance to complete the task.
3. Do I have a deadline or specific time I’d like to accomplish the task? – A good example is a credit card bill due date or customer deadline.
4. Do I need the help of others to get this accomplished? – what human resources do I need? How many people will I have to manage?
5. Who do I need to communicate with until the task has been accomplished and how often? – This is the foundation for creating a great communication plan.
Answering these five questions may seem basic, but from answering them you can derive much more information. You will know what the scope (a statement of what needs to be done) of the task is, who you needs it accomplished, how much time you have to get it done, who needs to be involved, and the level of communication you need to have with them. Now these questions can’t answer things regarding quality, risk, and etc. specifically, but is simply a starting point. Actually on some projects depending on their scope and other requirements you might not need to develop a communication plan or risk management plan. For instance me paying a cell phone bill wouldn’t require that level development or thought, but planning a trip to climb Mount Everest would.
The next time you have a full to do list for your day, month or even year, think about prioritizing that list and going over those 5 questions for each item as necessary. As you do this you will start to find yourself accomplishing more in less time. Organization is a skill that most of us could use, could you?
If you are planning to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam don’t wait to put what you learn from the PMBOK Guide and exam preparation resources into practice. This will help you when you take the exam. While this article is just the very tip of the iceberg in terms of learning about project management I hope this article has been helpful and will peak your interest in learning more about project management and passing the project management professional (PMP) exam.