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The Power of Continuity

(December 1, 2008)

If you look at your projects as one giant, interconnected web of your life, then it follows that success in one area is going to flow into the other.

You've probably heard people say with great enthusiasm that they're "in the flow." This term can be traced to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. When he was interviewing people in the mid-70s, he documented that they often described "being in the flow" using the metaphor of a water current carrying them along.

So, when you are "in the flow," what's happening?
  • Expectations and rules are clear. Goals are attainable and aligned with your skills.
  • You can focus and dive deeply into what you are doing.
  • Action is easy. You are in your own productive, cosmic groove.
  • You're so engrossed with what you are doing that you lose track of time.
  • You can see the progress you're making and you're getting the feedback you need.
  • You feel in control.
Does this sound like nirvana? Here's some good news. It's an attainable nirvana that project management can help you reach and provide the power of continuity in your life. Here are five ways that you can use project management to get "in the flow" and have success be the common thread in all aspects of your life.

Top Five Ways to use Project Management to Get "in the Flow"

1. Develop clear and quantifiable goals. If a goal is murky and indistinguishable, how does anyone know when and if it's done? Don't hide behind a curtain of vagueness. Be clear and make it measurable because a wise woman once said, "What gets measured, gets done!" 2. Track time and dollars spent. When you can show your boss and your team exactly where you are both in terms of time allocated and actual dollars spent, you're speaking their language. Nothing makes upper management quiver more than not knowing where they are on a mission-critical project. This is also important with your home life. Knowing how you're spending your personal and home budget is critical when you need to make tough decisions.

3. Meet deadlines and milestones. If you are missing every single deadline and project milestone, there's generally a reason why. Don't accept this as normal. Do you have too many false deadlines at work or at home, so people no longer accept them as real? When you understand what impedes meeting deadlines, you can get answers that not only get your projects back on track, but save time and money.

4. Unearth the hidden gems in your history. Too many people mistake documentation as busy work instead of using it to get at its real value. When you close out a project of any kind, don't literally put it to bed. Instead, wake up and unearth all the gems inside it. Did you have enough resources allocated to this project? At what points, did this project falter and why? What was behind the cost variance between the original budget and actual budget? If you don't capture the intelligence of your experiences, understand them and share them, you've missed a huge opportunity to make yourself more productive, effective and efficient.

5. Create a consistent and standardized approach to project management. In order to be consistent, you have to have a consistent and standardized approach. Sounds simple, but this is where most individuals and companies fall down. I see organizations every day who expect their people to learn project management by osmosis. I know you've seen this too: "Let the new people shadow Gloria for a few days because she's a great project manager." This is a good start, but you can't have ongoing impact from project management unless you have a consistent way of approaching it. This is why we see many individuals becoming PMP® because they want to use project management to be not only be "in the flow," but ultimately in control of their own success.

What's Next?
In our next article, we'll take a look at the basics of project management and how to incorporate them into your life. We'll follow that one with more tips and tools for taking project management on the road in the virtual world and show you how to how to run like a Cheetah. So, stay tuned!

The first article, The Project Called Life

About the Author
Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses.

Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become "Cheetahs" using Cheetah Learning's innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.

Recently honored by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI® Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.

Michelle's articles have appeared in over 100 publications and web sites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network is carried by over 400 publications, and her monthly newsletter goes out to more than 50,000 people. Her radio program, Your World Your Way, is a weekly broadcast that is an inspiring and practical look at how Project Management fuels success.

She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School's Owner President Manager's (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton.

She lives in Nevada with her family and likes to rejuvenate in Alaska where you'll often find her kayaking, hiking, and riding her motorcycle.

The Power of Continuity by Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®, Founder & Chief Cheetah, Cheetah Learning

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