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Monday, December 3, 2012

The Old-Fashioned Approach to Project Management

by Cobalt Project Manager

The project manager role is one which allows you to try some of the best modern gadgets, programs and ways of working on a daily basis.

This is fantastic if you are a fan of everything shiny and modern but are there also possibly some times when you would be well advised to take a more old-fashioned approach? There are certainly a few examples I can think of in which it isn’t a bad idea to turn the clock back a little and look for a simpler or more manual way of doing some tasks.

Speak Face-to-Face

Don’t get me wrong here; I am a big fan of video conferences, emails and such like. When you are short of time or far from the people you need to speak to there isn’t a lot else you can do but in other situations nothing beats meeting people face to face. The first situation I can think of is that in which you are given a new project and need to speak to the various parties who are interested in it. This is sure to be an interesting time for you and it might be a little nerve racking as well. However, the best way to both make a great impression and to exchange all of the necessary information is to get together with everyone on a face to face basis. You might say exactly the same things as you would have done on a conference call but the fact that you can see each other as you talk will help everyone relax and feel as though they are getting to know each other.

Use a Pen and Paper

You are probably as used to typing as much as I am. Between desktop PCs, laptops, phones and other devices we can do get by most days without even lifting up a pen or pencil. However, I find that there is one at least one huge advantage to using these increasingly antiquated looking items. What happens is that when I physically write something down I seem to lock it into my memory more easily. This is why I use my pen and paper to write down the important notes I simply can’t afford to forget. You might also find that the pieces of paper are easier to locate later on than documents on your system.

Go to the Office

In my opinion the chance to work from home is an unbeatable benefit to being a project manager. If you get the chance to do this then you should certainly give it a try to see whether or not it suits your life and personality. However, if there is a physical office reasonably close by then you don’t want to neglect it altogether. Once you get into the habit of carrying out your working life from your spare room you might end up finding it tough to imagine going into the office. However, this is something to avoid. The main reason for this is that you probably have a team to lead and they need to see you at some point. If they all work from home as well then the best idea is to arrange some regular get-togethers in the office. How regular these are will depend upon factors such as the stage of the project and the traveling distances involved.

Do One Thing at a Time

Multitasking probably isn’t all that modern a concept I suppose but it is something I associate with stressed out current day project leaders. I am actually a fan of multitasking but only in the right circumstances and for a limited period of time. If you try and do it all the time then you will end up stressed out and irritable. When the pressure is really on you might want to try and do two things at the same time but as soon as the need for rushing around is over you should settle back down to your normal working pace. No one can expect to work at breakneck speed all day every day without feeling the strain at some point. In fact, an even better solution to multitasking is to get someone else in the team to do one of the urgent tasks while you do the other. This is a better long term solution for you and it is sure to help your team member learn some new skills as well.

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