It’s no secret that I’m passionate about project management. One of the reasons I love this field of study is because it’s just so darn useful. A lot of project management practices have broad application; they can be used for managing many aspects of work, far beyond projects. In fact, the following three project management practices are techniques every professional can benefit from knowing, and they have the power to dramatically improve your daily work life.
1. Daily Stand-Up Meetings
The daily stand up meeting (sometimes referred to as a “huddle”) is a key element of Scrum project management methodology. This framework is designed to be flexible and is perfect for projects where things are changing frequently. For this reason, Scrum is a popular methodology amongst software development teams.
Because there is an emphasis on discovering needs and adapting as you go, Scrum utilizes a daily meeting to ensure that everyone on the team knows what they are working on and has what they need to be successful. It is often called a “stand up” meeting because it’s fast—no one should get too comfortable. If you stay on your feet, you’re more likely to keep things short.
This kind of frequent, fast, structured communication technique can be helpful for any team! It’s particularly valuable for administrative professionals who are supporting one or two individuals. But it can also be useful for any team where members are relying on one another to achieve mutual goals. Having a dedicated time to connect, ask questions, share updates, and get support helps to ensure everyone is “in the know” and no one gets stuck. It can also reduce interruptions throughout the day because everyone knows they can consolidate their needs and get them addressed all at once.
2. Retrospectives and Lessons Learned
One of the most fundamental tenets of project management is that every project is an experience you can learn from. Project managers are taught that conducting a “post mortem” (or retrospective) is an integral part of the process; you aren’t done until you’ve reviewed how things went and defined what you can learn for the future.
This concept is both simple and profound. There is great power in assessing the past and extracting the wisdom you’ve gained. However, throughout any given work day, most of us are so busy, we rarely take time to reflect in this way. We finish one thing, and we’re on to the next immediately. That’s why we often end up repeating the same mistakes over and over again—we just haven’t had time to properly synthesize the lesson and integrate it effectively.
Consider what might be possible if you adopted a daily debrief procedure for yourself. It doesn’t take long—just 5 to 10 minutes to reflect on what you’ve achieved and where you can be more effective tomorrow. This is a great way to slow down, acknowledge your work, and stay more present throughout the week. Taking this time will also help you be more proactive. When you consciously and consistently seek the lessons of your daily life, your personal growth will skyrocket!
3. Information Radiators
The last project management tool to consider implementing is something known as an “information radiator.” This fancy term comes from the Agile project management world, and it refers to a visual tool that conveys current information about the status of a project and the team working on it. It is typically posted in a highly visible location so everyone can see it. This tool helps keep the team up-to-date on what’s happening, making communication and collaboration more efficient. Plus, since it’s publicly visible, it also keeps people on track. No one wants to fall behind when everyone can see!
Consider how you might use a tool like this for yourself and/or your team. When you can quickly and easily see where things stand, you can make better decisions and prioritize more effectively. Something as simple as a whiteboard listing your top priorities for the week can help you communicate limits and hold yourself (and others) accountable.
You can create more robust and sophisticated information radiators too. For example, you can track the time you spend on certain activities, create charts to illustrate the composition of your workload, or build a Kanban style bulletin board (which generally defines things that need to be done, things that are in progress, and things that are complete in three separate columns). There are a wide variety of technological tools to help you, including Excel and project management systems like Trello and Asana.
I hope you’re able to see that project management practices are about so much more than just projects. That’s why, when you expand your skills in this area, you often find that your entire work life improves. If you’re looking to learn more about this topic, consider joining the upcoming Project Management Learning Lab.