If you’re a small business owner, solopreneur, or someone embarking on launching a project, you’re going to want to tune in to this week’s episode on developing a project management mindset. What is a project management mindset? It’s a way of thinking that lets you approach your project with ease, instead of dread, It’s very practical way of accomplishing what you set out to do, and it will help you avoid the pitfalls of adding endless things to your project, of feeling like you don’t know where to start, and on going live even when it feels scary and vulnerable.
The reason I’m tackling this topic (and I’m super excited to do so), is that in my 20 years of being a project manager, I’ve seen a lot of things that get in the way of people achieving their dreams. Projects by their nature are a way to up-level whatever you’re doing, and when I look at the way Season 4 of the show is shaping up, we’re focused on the inspiration, intention, and ACTION of bringing more joy to the world. Embarking on a project is a way of bringing your vision of something (anything, really) into the world, and, gives you a way of bringing more joy into this world.
Project Management Mindset
The big win of applying a project management mindset to your work, and your projects is that it helps you define the way you approach work. You can take some of the guess work out of your day to day, and focus on specific things that matter to you.
Taking on a mindset of project management can help you in the following ways:
1. Sets a “container” for work to be done
By defining what you’re doing, and outlining what it will look like for yourself, you can complete the work.
2. Sets a time limit, and a scope limit for what you’re doing
You’ll research some of the pieces ahead of beginning your work, and in doing so, you limit the surprises or guesswork of how much something will cost, when you’ll be done, or how you’ll decide you’re done. .
3. Provides you with an intentional focus when sitting down to work
When you’re clear on your intention to get a specific project or task done, it’s easier to focus on that until it’s complete. Harnassing a project management mindset will give you clarity on what you want to do, and you’ll better understand WHY you want to do it. When you find yourself “working” mindlessly on Facebook, or playing with creating new images, you’ll be able to remind yourself of what you’ve already stated is a priority, and get back to that.
4. It makes something more important than “perfectionism”
Instead of allowing your project to be open ended, and letting it run amok with lots of extra things (ie scope creep), you will define your work so that you know what is in scope, and you’ll also know what is out of scope. When you feel the urge to pile on new things to the project, you’ll now have something to compare those new things to – is this “feature” in scope, or, are you adding to your list because of perfectionism and fear?
Why is a project management mindset hard?
Let’s talk about why this is hard, because it often is. It’s difficult for many small business people to be to be fierce and focused because of fear and worry, comparison.
Let’s dig deeper … it’s hard to be fierce and focused because our human minds want this thing to be right and perfect. And you want each thing we put out there to be right and perfect because we care deeply about the project you’re creating.
It’s personal. You’re doing this work, this coaching, this healing, this making because you love it and at the heart of it, it is your purpose.
At the core of your perfectionist leanings is a very wise nugget of truth, it’s your way of crafting and presenting your purpose to the world. It’s soul-work, and it’s personal, and you love it. And you want it to be right. And I want you to pause right now to soak that in. You’re doing soul work and this is hard and beautiful and amazing.
Project management mindset appears to be “hard” ONLY when you choose to see it as a limitation. What if, instead of it being a constraint, you see defining your project as a playing in a sandbox?
This is what happens when you define a project, you put some basic definition around your work.
You can still play and create. You can still make whatever you want.
Now, instead of the play being open ended, you know when to stop and start and you know how long you’ll be playing. You know what success looks like for you.
And you can be as creative as you want in the meantime.
Why you want to “measure twice, cut once”
I’d like to share a story with you. Back in the day, I used to love going to a big music store in San Francisco. I’d arrive, eyes aglow with the anticipation of finding the latest music from some of my favorite bands, and I’d soak up the hour or so I got to spend being there. Music inspires me and I love everything about it.
On the days that I’d make a list, I’d walk through, go to the artists that I loved, flip through the CDs and find the one I wanted. Then I’d walk to the next row, find the next artist, and this continued until I’d gotten as many as I could afford. And I’d walk out happy, delighted, and feeling full of musical possiblity.
Let’s compare that to the times I forgot to make a list. I’d wander around, aimlessly. I’d stop at artists I loved but couldn’t remember if I really wanted the CD in my hand. I’d read the list of songs and feel overwhelmed. I might find a CD I wanted, or I might not. As my time in the store (usually however long my family wanted to spend) came to a close, I’d feel panicky and maybe grab a couple of albums that looked “OK” so I didn’t miss out. And usually, I’d get home and listen and it wasn’t anything I wanted.
The lesson here? When you plan your project, you’re more likely to spend your time and money wisely, and create something you really want.
When you wander into a project without any thought of what it is, what you want to spend, or how you’ll complete it, you’re more than likely going to be like I was leaving the music store. Overwhelmed, unsure, panicked, and second guessing yourself.
Want to listen to more episodes?
Binge away, my friend: