How to Manage a Project Without Ruining Your Personal Life
Projects are pretty stressful to deal with even at the best of times. But if you add in tight deadlines, complex deliverables, and multiple teams, then you can expect your personal life to take a serious hit.
Some people manage by not having a personal life at all—no spouse, no kids, and friends who understand the life of a busy professional. But not all of us are that lucky. We have to juggle family life and relationships in addition to our job, and it can be hard to make both work when you’re working after hours nearly every day.
So how do you manage a project without taking time away from the things that matter?
Plan the Project Properly
If you want to keep your project out of your hair during your off-time, you need to plan it properly from the outset. A few (dozen) extra hours perfecting your project plan may save you a lot of pain and complications later on—and save your relationship.
Maximize Your Time
Being a project manager is a lot like being a race driver. You try to shave off as many minutes as you can, because you know that that time adds up. Every minute spent in the office has to count for something, whether it’s a client meeting, filing a report, or checking your team’s work, because that’s time you’re not taking away from your personal life. Procrastination is the enemy, because tasks left for later can have a way of blowing up into huge problems—usually at the wrong times.
Learn to Say No
Are you a people pleaser? Then you might run into problems when you’re doing project management.
Project managers who say “yes” to everything risk losing their personal lives to scope creep. You’ll also become a less effective project manager, because your projects will grow and grow until they’re too clunky, mismatched, and ambitious to actually finish.
Say “no” to scope creep. Your kids will appreciate it.
Whether you’re working from the office or working from home, you need to be able to separate your work from your personal life. Mixing them together is a sure way to annoy your loved ones, and not many relationships can stand up to that on a regular basis. If you really need to extend your working hours then do so, but make sure that your most important family commitments are set in stone. But keep this to a minimum. Even if you aren’t going out with anybody, you need time to relax!
At the end of the day, a job is meant to support our personal life, and not the other way around. We can (and do) try to make it work, when deadlines are looming and work problems are piling up left and right; but when push comes to shove, jobs are replaceable. Families are not.
Image credit, Flickr, WolfSoul
Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.