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Project Management at Work -- And in Life

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Let's face it -- although we may not see ourselves as the great organizers we'd like to be, we are often more organized in our projects in the workplace than we are at home in our own lives.

Of course we're trained to do what we do at work, which isn't always the case for everyday life. We seek out specialized training for our field, and then we get to obtain certifications and credentials, continue our education and earn professional development units (PDUs) to maintain our designation. Meanwhile, there's no training for how to live an organized life.

Having project management knowledge allows us to be better project managers in our lives -- not just in our workplace. Indeed, project management processes can be applied to life's personal projects and activities.  

When I was studying for my Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification, for example, I realized that my knowledge of the PMBOK® Guide applied to everything I was up to -- not just the management of projects at work. I became more organized. I worked on more projects of my own and had structure that allowed me to progress faster, and with better concrete results and more confidence.

All that came from this preparation. When I obtained my CAPM®, I was convinced that every single person that worked in the office could benefit from this education and certification, including project managers, project team members or department members that don't even work on large projects.

How do you apply project management principles to your life?

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My wife and I are both PMPs. We've moved twice since our certifications. For both moves we applied project management practices, and both times the movers (different mover each time) said it was the easiest move they every did. We were completely packed, and every box had a label. In our new homes, every room had a sign to correspond to the labels. Next time we will use color codes, and skip the labels.

That's a great analogy, Art, being a father as a PM 101. So many valid applications of project management in daily life.

Life gets so much simply, more exciting and productive when project management principles are applied.

My favorite competency area is time management. Anything that is more than a few steps needs a schedule.

I breakdown the work, figure out the dependencies and estimate the effort. Biggest difference is that I usually only have one resource.

I've started using personal kanban to keep both my work and non-work tasks organized. The visualization helps me see what I have to do, and the approach keeps me from doing to much at once.

Applying fundamental PM disciplines in your personal life will come naturally to any PM: when planning a DIY project, or planning the kids' birthday parties, we all probably devise a rudimentary WBS without even realizing it.

The conscious application I made was that of CPI to our monthly discretionary spend, i.e. the few pennies left after all known costs are budgeted for.

By comparing the amount spent in line with the elapsed time in the month, I get a representation in decimal terms of whether I'm spending too fast, or am fortunate enough to be accruing a small surplus for the month.

Being a father is definitely project management 101. Scheduling, budgeting, resources, getting buy-in from family members on important decisions.

"It takes a village" is case in point that parenting is a lot about working together toward the betterment of an emerging person.

Viewing all of the various parenting tasks as a portfolio of projects makes things more manageable for me.

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