Musings on a Friday Afternoon

Jun 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Items for Project Managers, Tips and Tricks for Everyone

You know how you feel when the week is finally winding down, you’ve completed the last of your project status reports and all you want to do is head home for the weekend? Well, now is probably one of those pivotal moments when what you really need (yes, absolutely need) to do is stop and take stock of where you are going and what are you doing.

As project managers, it is so easy to get caught up the activities that make up our day to day lives that often times we forget that both our personal lives and our projects could use a little “thinking about what it is we do” time.

There are a couple of blogs that I’ve read this week that had me reflecting about what exactly should I be doing and how the projects I’m in charge of might benefit.

Seth Godin started me off with his blog on June 10th with the following. “What would happen if you were prohibited from working more than five hours a day. What would you do? How would you use those five hours to become indispensable in a different way?”

That’s an interesting thought. So often it seems that in the middle of running from one meeting to another, preparing yet another status report and perhaps preparing another report that you know no one will ever look at, that we don’t look at what are the key functions that we need to perform. So, if you only had five hours to complete what needed to be done next Monday (or whatever the next workday is when you read this), what would you do? What activities would cut out that are just exactly that….activities, not accomplishments.

At least two companies for which I did consulting work had a very detailed list of the project documents that were to be completed as one progressed through the project. At the very end was the “project closeout and lessons learned” exercise. So I duly prepared that final documentation and then checked about setting up a lessons learned meeting with the project clients. Along the way, I asked about the document library so that I would know where to store the results. “Oh, we don’t have a project document library” was the answer. You can see me shaking my head right then, can’t you? Here was hours and hours of time invested by numerous individuals preparing something that was supposed to help future projects and yet the total value was to end up in someones inbox to be filed away. Both companies were simply going through the exercise because that’s what was supposed to be done rather than taking a few moments and thinking about what they were doing.

Seth’s blog go me thinking about another of my favorites, Tom Peters of In Search of Excellence fame. So I went looking for what Tom had to say. Tom makes several good points in musing into the same area . Tom goes on to say, “To even survive professionally, I believe we each must, to steal the words of the immortal basketball coach, John Wooden, “make each day a masterpiece” …. or, usurping the phraseology of guru and pal Mike Ray, “make your life itself a creative work of art.” That requires busting a gut, immersing oneself in the moment, digging deep if necessary for an attitude fix, appreciating the marvels of the world around us and our mates within it, and devoting the day to an at least modestly ennobling purpose and project … beyond merely scoring another checkmark on life’s short-timer calendar.”

Finally, I should expand this to bring in another thought. I know this is going to sound so trite but, here goes. Go beyond making sure that your professional work counts. Make sure that you are making every day count for you. Mitch Albom ascribed to his mentor Morrie Schwartz in Tuesdays with Morrie the following thought. “Do what the Buddhists do. Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, ‘Is today the day [that I will die]? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?”

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