PM – or what I learned about Project Management

Nope, this is not about how to write someone a personal message – unless you want to make a project of it, then read on.

I had a project management class at uni this semester. And it drove me crazy at times – just ask Hotosch, who had to suffer with me because I was complaining to her about it all the time (Sorry btw).

So I decided that I wanted to share my experiences and insights with you, hoping that it might minimize your suffering if you ever find yourself in a similar position.

I had planned – or at least helped planning – a few events by the beginning of this semester and thought that I had at least a general idea of how it worked and what needed to be done… and I learned in the very first lesson how wrong I was. I won’t go into the details here but you can really make a science – or several – of managing a project.

I don’t want to bore you with the details of my project so I’ll keep it short. Here is my recently acquired or refreshed knowledge in three categories:

  • Risk management. 

Yep, this is me trying to use some of the fancy words I learned. It really just means that you better think of everything that could go wrong during your project and what to do in case that happens.

You might already be doing this before making big decisions but it doesn’t hurt to do it a little more consciously. I often find myself wondering “What can possibly go wrong?” And then my mind summons all kinds of worst case scenarios and I immediatly shove them all away and think “Nah, it’ll be alright.” You can do better than me: Try to be prepared for the worst, especially when it comes to time management.

  • Time management.

Have you met procrastination, my closest friend and most hated enemy? Whenever I really want to get something done, I have to set myself a deadline. This is essentially what you do when we talk about time management.

The most important thing when it comes to deadlines is to be realistic. It doesn’t hurt to challenge yourself every now and then but don’t try to do the impossible! For example, if someone wants you to translate 100 pages within a week, they may use Google Translate but I don’t know any real person who could do that and do it well.

Know your limits and plan accordingly, then it should be fine :).

  • Communication. 

This point is important if you work in a team!
You’ve probably heard it before – and if not I’m happy to be the first to tell you – but communication is key! During my project I realized that the reason for most of our problems came from not enough or miscommunication.

In my group I had the most trouble getting one of my co-workers to understand my instructions. I thought I was already being uber-clear but he just couldn’t (or didn’t want) to get what I mean.

This is what I learned in a nutshell. Do you have similar troubles when it comes to planning and organizing?

Let me know what you think of my insights!

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