Project Management

The Healthy Project Manager

Matching up wellness coaching and motivational interviewing techniques with project management—along with inclusion and inspiration—is my goal.

About this Blog


Recent Posts

Is there benefit in asking better questions?

Ugh!  Change is so hard!

Does joy at work even matter?

Can gratitude make us better project managers?

All about PMI Global Conference 2019

Cheap and easy ways to reduce your stress

I know someone will say they don’t feel or accept stress, but for some of us (even if we love our jobs) being a project manager can be stressful.  As PM’s we are responsible for project success and team spirit, we are constantly checking the horizon for risks, are juggling stakeholder management and much more.  Daily we are bombarded by e-mails, voicemails, texts, calls, the person stepping in asking for an unscheduled and urgent report, a new risk, virtual team complications and you know what I’m talking about.  Sometimes we do what I refer to as……”tap dancing as fast and as hard as I can on a moving floor”! 

For balance, these are 10 simple and cost effective ways I manage stress.  Consider trying one or more:

  1. Incorporate extra steps into your day:  I do this by taking at least one walk around the block during business hours.  I work on a hospital campus, and purposely use the restroom in another building which forces me to step away from desk to walk for a few minutes each day.  I avoid the elevator and take the stairs when possible.  If appropriate, I walk to a co-workers office or desk to talk vs. creating another e-mail.
  2. Take mini vacations:  This means I have pictures of my grandkids around me to make me smile and bring me a sense of calm when I gaze at them.  It is only a second or two, but having a photo that recalls a pleasant memory or inspires in some way sparks joy and reduces stress.
  3. Thanks:  Spend a minute or two saying thank you every day by penning an e-mail or handwritten note to someone deserving of genuine appreciation.  This has many benefits and I’ve realized writing these notes, there is a physical smile on my face washing away stress.
  4. Stop and breathe.  Try this one:  Breathe in for the count of 6, hold your breath for the count of 6, then exhale for the count of 6.  I use this technique-right before an important outbound call, the start of a meeting or when switching between projects and find it very helpful.
  5. Alive and Green:  Studies indicate indoor plants can reduce your stress and improve productivity!  Simple and easy with most plants only needing a little water once a week.  You can find a small plant for very little cost.  Some examples are ivy, an African Violet or even a bamboo plant.  They improve the quality of the air around you and can offer you a measure of peace.  I enjoy Gerber Daisies in my office.
  6. Snacks:  Nutritional snacks can help you keep a sustained energy level.  I try avoiding caffeine as much as possible because it can lower your mood and energy once the initial boost ends.  Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I love everything about a good cup of coffee – but I’ve realized too much caffeine is not helpful.  Some snacks I enjoy are trail mix, banana chips, string cheese or huckleberry licorice.  My choices might not be yours, but make sure you have enough water and snacks available in case you need a lift. 
  7. Ha-Ha-Ha:  Find ways to laugh.  You know that funny coworker – go hang out with them by the water cooler and laugh.  My daughter sends me funny sayings she finds on Pinterest every day.  It takes just a moment to read them for a good giggle, but this not only helps me relax but often I can share the funny with others to brighten their day too.  Sometimes I share one or two at the beginning a meeting, it just brings a lightness to the moment and calms others.  Laughter is like medicine.
  8. Call Me:  Phone a friend or have lunch with your friend in person.  You know, your soulmate kind of friend.  My best friend of 27 years lives far away, but we schedule a lunch call twice a month.  We eat our lunch and connect heart to heart – different than the other days when we communicate via text.  During these calls, a sign is posted on my door reading “If you hear laughing or even crying – everything is OK.  I’m on the phone from 12-1 with my best friend”.  Several of my coworkers saw the sign and decided to try it with their friends – we all agree it reduces stress!
  9. Melody:  Music is another stress reliever.  Studies indicate music improves your mood and even reduces stress.  Music is often used for therapy.  Now music is so easy readily available – I use my cell phone with earbuds and if no one minds I use the computer speakers making this pretty simple to incorporate into the business day.  I listen to my favorite songs near the end of my day to help me transition from work to my family at home.
  10. Quote of the day:  Find inspirational words from someone you respect and admire.  This could be spiritual, a note from your child, an online quote or a passage from a book.  Find something worth reflecting upon and read it before starting your day – maybe post it nearby your desk for a stress reliever. 

I’m hoping one or more of these things will be something you can try.  If you have other cost-effective stress reducers, please consider posting them below.  I can’t be the only PM with a stressful workload!

Posted on: August 05, 2019 06:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)


Categories: Leadership, Leadership

  • SHOCKING - The numbers are staggering - according to the Balance Careers 60-million Americans are affected by workplace bullying.  60-MILLION AMERICANS!  Bullying doesn’t just occur in America – it is a global issue.  In January, I posted a PMI poll question on this site asking if others have experienced bullying in the workplace and 77% of responders said YES, they have encountered bullying. 
  • CONFLICT IS NOT BULLYING - Conflict is important for project success – as project managers we strive to create an environment where differences of opinion and perspectives are encouraged. 
  • BULLYING IS - Unwanted, aggressive and disrespectful behavior used to control or harm others and this negative behavior is repeated over time.  It often escalates and corporations can brush it off as a “leadership style”.   Clive Boddy presented a TED Talk about these bullies he calls “corporate psychopaths” working in all industries creating chaos and confusion to forge their own careers and agendas by bullying. 
  • VICTIMS - When we were kids, the bully on the playground often picked on the smallest, weakest, or the child who was different in some way.  As adults in the workplace, however, the bully often targets someone skilled, popular, kind, ethical and honest.  The workplace bully thrives on watching victims squirm. 
  • WHAT IT FEELS LIKE - The pain of bullying is the worst part with victims reporting very real health issues ranging from dread and worry, shame and exhaustion to disrupted sleep, PTSD, migraines and even suicidal ideations.  Victims feel powerless and are suffering.  This is unacceptable.
  • HIGHER ED – Research by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group indicate higher education organizations are at risk for fostering workplace bullying.  We hear of military hazing, in healthcare there is a known phrase about “nurses eating their young” and bullying even occurs in the legal profession.  In many industries, hostile behaviors are well known and surprisingly these industries are often in fields of higher education.
  • SUBTLE BULLYING – PM BULLYING? – Do we ever assign work before knowing if the timelines are reasonable?  Do we only discuss problems, errors or issues without celebrating milestones or acknowledging the efforts of others?  Do we understand harsh teasing, spreading rumors/ gossiping, ignoring individuals or even getting in the personal space of others can be lesser forms of bullying?
  • COST OF BULLYING – Bullying isn’t just hurting the individual.  Bullying tears down company culture by increasing absenteeism and decreasing presenteeism.  It influences healthcare costs.  Beyond this, it affects employee turnover, can lead to litigation……and for us project managers, bullying can directly lead to project failure. 
  • WHAT CAN YOU DO?  - Lead by example.  As a project manager, help your company create zero tolerance policies around bullying.  Enable conversations about bullying – create awareness.  Do not tolerate bullying in your meetings and quickly confront bullying when witnessing it by standing your ground without emotion – use the facts and document every time witnessing or encountering bullying behavior.  Hold bullies accountable for their behavior with disciplinary consequences and make this part of your organization’s cultural values and norms.  Make a stand!
Posted on: June 05, 2019 06:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Top 5 recommendations for increased confidence & competence in 2019

Categories: Leadership

Top 5 surprising recommendations for increased confidence and competence in 2019

  • CONFIDENCE:According to the dictionary, confidence is the feeling or belief that one can rely on or have belief in someone or something.  It’s a feeling of self-assurance. 

  • COMPETENCE:The dictionary also indicates competence is the ability to something successfully or efficiently.  In other words, you have the skill set to be qualified to do your job.

In 2019, how can you have more confidence and competence?  I already assume you follow project management principles and ethics, beyond that here are my suggestions for the new year:

  1. Take care of yourself.  Surprised this is number one on the list?  It should be a top priority.  Get enough rest, eat right, exercise, drink plenty of water, avoid caffeine and monitor and control your stress.  Easier said than done?  Maybe this year, it can be a firm goal.  This is your number 1 confidence and competence secret weapon and being on top of your game health-wise enables you to have the best platform for peak performance.  Start with small SMART goals.  Placing your personal health high on the list will help you react and respond better to everything and everyone.

  2. Be known for standing up for what is right… and stand up for yourself when you need too.  Use your words both written and spoken for good and have the reputation for always speaking the truth.  Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” when appropriate knowing you will find the answer and follow up later.  Be the best representation of excellence stakeholders have ever seen.

  3. Take time to increase your knowledge and add to your skillset.  Build, grow, develop and bloom this year!  Put it on your calendar.  Make it happen!  Gain the PDU’s, volunteer, take acceptable risks and learn all you can.  Build your career – you are worth it!

  4. Be happy.  Life happens – cancer, divorce, job loss, stress.  These things are real and many challenges will be ahead this year.  Live with an attitude of gratitude, positivity and keep an open, inquisitive outlook.  This is huge and will improve your project management success!

  5. Focus on your customers.  Put yourself “in their shoes”.  Make your stakeholders a top priority and your projects will flourish.  Keenly use your soft and hard skills, learn from mistakes, hone problem solving skills and improve your listening skills – these things are foundations for confidence and competence.

Posted on: February 13, 2019 06:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

"An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of The Lone Ranger."

- Dan Rather