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If you're going to apply project management to your daily life, don't start with project management; it's better than nothing, but there is some added structure that would make it more effective. The short version is:
- Define your values
- Determine your desired outcomes - long and short-term
- List your current activities and commitments
- Quick assessment - do your activities and commitments align with your values and support your desired outcomes?
- Can you stop doing the things that do not align with your values or support your desired outcomes?
- What do you need to start doing to achieve your desired outcomes?
- Prioritize the activities you could be doing and be patient, you can't do them all at the same time, and some of them may not be worth doing.
- Make sure you have a clear understanding of how the activities (projects, SMART goals, etc...) you are going to pursue align with your goals and support your desired outcomes
Not everything we do is a project, but everything we do IS an investment of our time, effort, energy, resources, etc... If you're going to apply project management to your life, apply principles of portfolio management and enterprise risk management, as well, to make sure you're not just doing things right, but also doing the right things to help achieve your desired outcomes.
I'd echo Aaron's advice - it just as bad to treat something like a project which shouldn't be as it is to treat a project as something else.
You can certainly use the full set of knowledge areas for a true personal project (e.g. renovating your house), but for other initiatives, you might find yourself using some practices, tools or techniques without there being a benefit in treating it as a project.
Although not everything is a project in our personal lives, a lot of the techniques applied to project management cans still be applied daily.
You may hear the advice, "Eat a toad first thing every morning." meaning accomplish something unpleasant on your to-do list. That sort of advise is wise. Simple things like not waiting until the last week to try and complete all your PDUs is another example of something that is not a project, but a bit of planning and discipline can save you a lot of headache.
One thing I would advise from personal experience, is giving yourself permission to be flexible with your planning. (I don't think agile is really the right word here.) Plans change. Sometimes Why is beyond our control and sometimes not. Don't get too down on yourself if your plan changes. We are answering to ourselves, not a boss (some personal relationships may differ on that point though ;-). You need to align your priorities with your values, just like in business. If your priority is family time, then don't worry if time with them sets your personal planning schedule back. Adjust your plan, and move on knowing you made the right strategic decisions for you.
Although I may ask. Why portfolio management and enterprise risk management would be the most valuable in comparison to other knowledge areas and competencies?
When it comes to my knowledge, those areas are limited. If it is possible we can have a discussion in depth privately it would be greatly appreciated.
Personal projects also let a practitioner flex their project management "muscles" so to speak as you can put the knowledge areas and processes to practice.
Also with the wide variety of tools and techniques, there is always something that can be applied that would be of value.
I strongly agree with the eat the toad in the morning even though it is something I still struggle with;o. Furthermore implementing planning with room for flexibility does work best, your personal and daily life should not be treated as a job.
I also like your focus on strategic thinking and decisions. There is always a focus on hard efforts but I realized it isn't enough.
Would you say Strategy+Effort= Fulfilling life and career?
Time ago I delivered a course and workshops inside the PMi World Tour called "Project for everybody" where I help people to understand that everybody are performing project management from the time they wake up to the time they return to bed. The difference to do the same in organizations is the level of formality.
Kiron and Aaron made valid points.
It is true that much of the PMBoK is transferable, and that goes both directions. Much of what is found in there originated somewhere else such as finance, statistics, and engineering. People with knowledge in other fields figured out how to apply it to PM. If you were to create a Venn diagram of several knowledge areas, you would see a great deal of overlap.
In your original post you asked if practicing PM in your personal life can improve your professional abilities and I would say, yes. Whether it is your personal life or another career path, practicing any transferable skills outside of a PM job can allow you to apply them better to your own work. That includes not just the specific skills practiced, but you also develop skills in how to apply tools invented for one purpose, to whatever problem you face today.
PPM and ERM were just examples, although I do like the comparison between the outcomes we choose to pursue and an investment portfolio. If you're going to projectize your life, portfolios provide context for project selection and prioritization, and you can't just look at risk in a project silo - some risks can impact one or more portfolios.
True, there are other disciplines that could be brought into the discussion, but it was meant to be a short answer (compared to some of my responses), and trying to inject too many disciplines into the discussion would scatter the focus.
Feel free to message me directly if you want to discuss this topic further.
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