Since I started studying Project Management, I often catch myself taking mental notes that go far beyond what I intend to use on my daily job. There is a theory about learning that says we absorb new knowledge more easily when we associate it with something personal, so whenever I'm dedicating myself to a new field of knowledge, I try to follow that process of mixing new information with previous experiences. For my past year studying Project Management it hasn't been different, and I would like to share here some hacks and lessons that I have been trying to take from theory to my personal life:
- Lessons Learned
In Project management, lessons learned are essentially a way of spreading knowledge obtained through individual and collective experiences, contributing to the development of solutions, learning and agile responses. Following this train of thought, I started to take notes of all situations (in my personal and professional life) that somehow make me uncomfortable, uneasy or in which I feel like I can improve. This has been helping me to identify Behaviour patterns, especially for unpleasant situations, and therefore be able to activate new reaction mechanisms instead of the ones based on initial feelings of anger, anxiety or aggressiveness.
2. "Communication is both art and science."
A big part of the Project Manager's work is related to facillitating communication between all parts involved in the project, and the mistakes that can result from neglecting this task can be just as huge. As I have read one and remind myself of every now and then, "Communication is both art and science". Still, despite the countless channels we have nowadays to make communication easier and faster, we all face daily situations and conflicts directly related to the lack of hability (or willingness) to communicate effectively. So another thing I try to remind myself of constantly is: speak up. Talk. Ask. To quote Khalil Gibran, lebanese philosopher and poet : "The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply."
3. Pick your battles.
Despite the changes in its traditional layout, what the Triple constraint of Project Management shows us is an ever-present, hard lesson: every choice is a renunciation. And taking it beyond the Project Management traditional elements of Scope, Cost and Time, we can make it more personal by adding, for example, 'Social life', 'Love life', 'Energy', 'Money' and so many more. At the end of the day, we will have to make choices - and then, just like in Project Management, we have to prioritize. I believe I'm not the only one when I say I wish the day had 48 hours, but I'm pretty sure the Sponsor up there would not grant me that wish - therefore all I can do is work with the 24 hours I've got, during which I should also conciliate my limitations as a human being and my aspirations. And if this is already hard in your job, it doesn't get any easier for your personal life.
If the best way to learn really is associating new knowledge to previous knowledge there is, without a doubt, a long way to go - and some (most) of the lessons and choices can be hard - but may they be the reminders that we are on the right track.