#WFH: Personal Project Management (PPM)
Project management is all about breaking a project down into phases and activities, and applying dates and dollars to get the project done on time and within budget. Consider your life in the virtual world your personal project. Now, break it down into segments and determine what is on your priority path. Agile project management, or extreme project management (XPM), which is popular in the technical world, might be more appropriate than traditional project management for personal project management in the virtual world. Extreme project management differs from traditional project management mainly in its emphasis on open, flexible collaboration and the lack of a predetermined systematic approach. The main focus of XPM is on the results rather than on intricate scheduling techniques and heavy formalism. You can use the same approach to managing your virtual world. You don’t have to write lists as long as your arm or label everything. You won’t keep this up long anyway. You can write some general things down and cross off what you have accomplished. You can write down some weekly goals and see if you meet them. You can do the same for the month and the year. You can even set a few long-term goals. These are your priorities. Then you can determine if you are moving toward them. This lets you say, “I accomplished this!” You can create vision boards, sticky note reminders, bracelets, and note cards, whatever you like. The important thing is that you do this or some variety of this and take a few minutes daily to focus on your critical path – the progress you make that moves you from where you are to where you want to be.
It takes effort, determination and some hard work to move you along this critical path. That is the dedication and discipline part of setting and enacting your priorities. But it is possible. One of the big advantages of The Pajama Effect is that you are in charge. You don’t have to stay in the cubicle until 6 p.m. just to look devoted. You don’t have to arrive at 8 a.m. because that is when the doors open. You can arrange your time and talents to optimize efficiency. That is how you set and enact priorities. You make a decision about what you want, you decide you are going to have it, and then you move in that direction by aligning your thoughts and actions with what will give you those end results (Ferris, 2009). Simple, right?
When you use personal project management, you create a specific result, or reach a milestone or deliverable. The online world never ends, so you have to establish beginning and ending points for yourself. Each day, week and month, you have things you want to accomplish. Your company or client has things that they want you to deliver. Personal project management is about timelines, budgets and resources. Just as with any project, you have to break your activities down and track them. The Project Management Institute (PMI) uses these categories for tracking projects: initiate, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, closing. You have to begin it, plan it, do it, monitor it and finish it…whatever it is! Of course, you can break these down into many other areas. The PMI has 10 knowledge areas. You may have more or less in any of your personal or business projects.
Why is personal project management so difficult for people? Your awareness is the moving target. You react to the world around you and you lose track of your focus. In the new world, it is what you do that counts, not how much time you spend doing it. You need to accomplish results and that requires planning and focus. Here is an example: You set your priorities for health, family and work. You get up and get the coffee and sign online. You check your email and there is a coupon for Zumba lessons. Zumba is exercise and that is good for your health. You want to know a little bit more about Zumba so you Google it. You start reading the websites and watching the videos and suddenly you realize you missed the conference call you had at 9 a.m. How did that happen? You just signed on to check your email…which you still haven’t really done and that was at 7:30 a.m. Now it is two hours later and you have been reading about Zumba. What happened?
You went into detached engagement. It is the same thing that happens when you drive from one place to another on automatic pilot. We have all done it. You missed the exit and you have no idea how you did that. Well, this time you missed the meeting. If you do this enough, and it is easy to do online, you will affect your work. If you value your priorities, you have to stay focused on achieving them. This begins with being aware of where you are and what is happening right now. You can only focus attention now. You can focus on the past or on the future, but you can only focus your attention now. You can prioritize activities until the cows come home, but if you don’t act upon them now, you probably are not going to achieve your priorities.
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