I know you do not have time. Not even to read this post. It is so much you need to do! No time to learn.I know, I thought the same. However, let me show you how to find more time and improve your project management knowledge without too much overhead.
We, project managers, are always a bit overwhelmed. There is always something that we need to do. One more meeting to attend, one more email to answer, or one more conversation to hold.
When I started to give lectures on project management, there was a junior manager. He asked me how to find more time to learn, read and attend professional events.
At that moment, I was not fully ready to answer his question. It seemed like an obvious answer. Just allocate some time. Use every spare moment…
I have been thinking a lot about the question after that. Today, learning looks like a natural activity embedded in my life. However, when I only started, it was not that way. I also struggled with finding more time.
Now, I am ready to answer the question. The junior project manager, I hope you will have a chance to read this.
1. Be Intentional
I remember the moment when I decided to start improving intentionally. It was 2 a.m. My team and I were still in the office finishing a project. We were to hand off the product to the customer. We had been working long hours for several weeks already. Quite a familiar situation, right?
Day after day I had to ask people to push a little bit more. I had to find new ways to keep them motivated to finish the project. I apparently knew that no one from the team will ever want to repeat this experience again. And I knew it was my fault that brought the project and the team to that situation…
The next day after the project was finished. I bought my first comprehensive book on project management.
There were other times when I tried to improve things. They dwelled off quite fast. But this time, my intentions were firm. So I know for sure that there is a difference in the quality of our intentions.
I’m not an expert in making people intentional in pursuing a goal. But I know a simple technique that helps. It is called “5 Whys”.
Try it. Ask yourself why you want to improve your project management skills. If the answers resonate with you, the chances are good that you will keep to your intention.
Today, I am fully sure that determination to become a better project manager is half of what you need. If you are intended to start improving yourself, it will be much easier to find more time.
2. Save Information
One thing I always regret is that I often forget to save an interesting article or a name of a book when it comes to me. Useful information tends to appear at the most inappropriate moments. You either do not have time to read, listen or even note it or you are not tuned to learning.
Facebook is the worst place for professional materials. Usually, when you are scrolling through the newsfeed, you are in a relaxed mode. You want funny videos, cute cats and catchy images.
When I stumble upon an interesting article on Facebook, I usually need a serious willpower effort even to save it for later. But to tell you the truth, I never return to the saved items…
Everything changed after I read Getting Things Done by David Allen and started using Evernote. As for the book, I strongly recommend to read it. It is an exceptional productivity system. As for the application, feel free to use anything that suits you. All it needs to do is to save articles, links, documents, and your thoughts in an easy way.
So, whenever you find something of value, save it. Why? Because next time when you have spare five minutes, you should be ready to use them efficiently.
3. Put it Into a Calendar
That is quite a straightforward suggestion. If you want to read or watch something useful, put a time block on your calendar.
What do you usually do when you have an important meeting? Most likely you place an event in a calendar or a reminder. And you build your work day around it to ensure nothing else is planned for the same period.
Is learning important to you? Then put an event on the calendar and treat it the same way as that important meeting!
That is as simple as that.
4. Safeguard Your Intentions
It is a real world. There are only 24 hours a day. You can’t find “more” time in it. All you can do is to make a trade off.
Let’s say you have five spare minutes between meetings. You have a choice. You can spend them to check your Facebook page, or you can read an article from this blog. And if you are intentional, it will be much easier to choose the latter.
If you think that five minutes will not do any good for you, you are not alone in this delusion. I like this short video by Fight Mediocrity. It might help you to overcome the illusion of the inefficiency of the small efforts.
5. Create More Margin
I don’t want to spread too thin covering all aspects of project manager’s life. I’m here to talk about project management. However, I know the guy who is a great mentor and can help creating a work-life balance and more meaningful life. Maybe it is what you really need.
His name is Michael Hyatt. His website is: http://michaelhyatt.com/
Personally, I follow Michael for several years already. He taught me a lot. For now, I strongly recommend you to get his free ebook “Shave 10 Hours Off Your Workweek”. It describes four strategies to create more margin in your life. I hope, you will devote a part of the margin for your professional development as well.
I have shared quite a lot of resources today. Check them out and get back here when you are really intentional about your improvements as a project manager.