Using Your PM Skills to Get the Work-Life Balance That You Desire the advance of technology we are all expected to take on a lot more in both our professional life and personal life.  Schedules, deadlines, emails, text messages, social media . . . all of this can become overwhelming.  So how do you find a good balance between work and play?  The key is to manage the time we are given each and every day.  Knowing how to best utilize your time requires an understanding of prioritizing tasks, scheduling, setting deadlines, and maintaining clear lines of communication with all individuals involved.  For an experience project manager or an individual who has led projects, such skills are necessary to complete the job.  So why can’t we apply those same skills that have been developed throughout our entire careers to our personal lives?  According to Benjamin Franklin,

“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” 

In this week’s post, we’ll begin by taking a look at the basics steps of managing a project.  Then we’ll explore using those skills to manage time outside of the office from vacations to day-to-day tasks.

Identify Your Resources

In order to organize your time wisely, it’s best to take inventory of your resources.  There are many different ways this can be done, all of which are readily available both at work and home.  Here are a few of my go-to’s:

  • Mind Maps
  • Project Charts
  • Mobile Device
  • Calendars and Alerts
  • Web Conference Tools
  • Desktop and Online Applications

Brainstorm Ideas

When tasked with managing a project, I start with a mind map. This allows me to brainstorm ideas and tasks that need to be done for that specific project, it also allows me to easily re-organize my tasks so that they are put in a logical, sequential order.

Blog Post_Mind_Map

SmartDraw Tip:  We’re often tasked with re-occurring projects throughout the year.  Fortunately, with SmartDraw I’m able to save the project tasks as a template in my personal library.  I can simply select the “main” or 1st shape and drag it into my library. This will save the outline so that the next time this project arises I can simply click and drag it from the library into the work area and make modifications as needed.

Devise a Plan

With SmartDraw, I’m able to convert my mind map into a project chart simply in just one-click.  The items that I’ve brainstormed now appear in the Task column.  This Project Chart view allows me to input further details of the project such as deadlines, responsibility, and dependencies.  In addition, I’m able to do some workload balancing to ensure my project team isn’t overwhelmed but that we meet the goals and objectives in a timely manner.

Blog Post_Project Chart

Collaborate & Delegate 

Maintaining communication among a project team ensure the success of the project.  Now that the details of the projects have been clearly outlines, the information can be reformatted into a list of tasks available in the Assignment view. This view within SmartDraw will allow all of the members of the project team to see all of their assigned tasks along with their respective deadlines.  To send an email from SmartDraw, simply click on the envelope icon in the top left hand corner.  Outlook will automatically generate a new email message with an image of your visual in the body of the email.  To sharpen your communication skills, read 5 Email Tips That Will Transform How You Communicate.

email tasks

Transfer Your Project Management Skills

Planning on purchasing your first home? Trying to find the time to take that vacation you’ve been dreaming of? Going back to school to obtain a higher degree?  The truth is you can have it all.  Simply the apply the skills that you’ve developed as a project manager.  You can easily organize your out of work life in the same manner.  Let’s take a look at planning that dream vacation that you deserve.

4 Easy Steps to Planning Your Dream Vacation

  1. Identify Your Resources (i.e. internet, guide books, travel apps, friends and family)
  2. Brainstorm Ideas (i.e. mind map possible dates, locations, places to go, and things to do)
  3. Devise a Plan (i.e. create a travel itinerary, budget)
  4. Collaborate & Delegate (i.e. travel agent booking, fellow travelers, co-workers to cover your work)

Sample Vacation Mind Map

vacation mind map

SmartDraw Tip: The mind map template doesn’t always have to be converted into a project chart either. It serves as a great organizing tool as a standalone as well.

To learn more on how to vacation plan, read 6 Tips to Planning a Stress-Free Vacation and 10 Time & Money Saving Travel Tips for Your Next Vacation.  You’ll discover how easy it is to use the skills you’ve developed in your career to make your personal life that much easier.

Use Your Mobile Device to PM Your Day

Mobile devices have become a part of daily lives from checking the weather to keeping in touch with colleagues and friends.   Not only does it allow us to stay connected, it allows us to manage our time more effectively and efficiently.

  • Schedule routine “life maintenance” appointments well in advance.   Such appointment include: dental cleanings, doctor’s exams, eye exams, and hair appointments.
  • Create a list of routine “house maintenance” items.  For example: Grocery item for each market, cleaning supplies, and personal hygiene.
  • When setting appointments, ensure that you’ve allotted the necessary travel time.  Travel time should also accommodate for rush hour, parking, and walking time for your car to the appointment.  Note: If you include the address in the appointment, many smartphones will automatically alert you of the traffic at the time of the appointment.
  • Set alerts early and often.  Alarms are no longer exclusively used to wake us up in the morning.  Alerts can help us maintain a healthy life style as displayed in the photo below taken from a previous post, Diabetes Control: Lower Your A1C in 90 Days.  Alerts can be set on our phones to remind us when to wake up, when to leave work in time for pilates, to when to take our daily vitamins and medications.

Phone Alarms2