Setting aside small amounts of time every day to accomplish big things is a popular strategy. With the hectic schedules that are typical for most project management professionals, it can be tremendously effective. The tasks PMPs can tackle with this simple approach are as diverse as they are impressive. If you’re looking for a way to fit in a personal objective or a side project, consider these ideas for making your twenty minutes as productive as possible.
Project management training doesn’t just happen in a classroom. PMPs can expand their skills wherever they happen to be—at their desks or on the road—without setting aside huge chunks of time. Newly learned skills can be sharpened by running through real-world scenarios. It’s also possible to learn a new language in twenty minutes a day, either with online tutorials or audio-based instruction.
Expand your business knowledge. Understanding trends, from leadership techniques to evolving market pressures, can be instructive on many levels. Consider taking time each day to read the latest business books, including biographies of key thought leaders and industry innovators. Reviewing leading blogs can also be a good way to remain up-to-date on what’s happening. You may choose to either stick to project-related resources or branch out to other areas to broaden your knowledge.
Churn through support tasks. PMPs frequently help other internal groups—accounting, purchasing, IT, etc. If you’ve agreed to provide assistance such as being a beta tester for a new piece of software or reviewing updated contract boilerplates, it’s often difficult to fit those tasks into an already busy schedule. By committing just twenty minutes each day, you can more quickly complete what you set out to do.
Ongoing responsibilities can also be managed effectively by carving out time every day. Rather than addressing tasks reactively, convert your energy into a more proactive approach. Consider using the time to maintain a clean filing system. Something as simple as clearing out the inbox each day can help keep busy PMPs efficient. It’s also a good opportunity to delegate tasks that would be better done by another team member. Wrap up notes from recent meetings, add information to the PMO’s intranet, and assign permissions to any data you’ve entered into the team’s document management system.
Nurture your mentoring relationships. Regular communication is crucial to both mentors and mentees. If you’re a mentor, consider devoting time to reviewing questions or problems posed by your mentee. If you have a mentor, take this time to digest the knowledge and information they’ve passed along to you and pull your thoughts together for your next conversation.
Brainstorm. Creativity is a muscle that works best when it’s exercised regularly, so set aside time on an ongoing basis for brainstorming. Clearly define the problem or issue you want to address, eliminate distractions (send phone calls to voicemail, set message notifications to mute, close your door if you can), and jot down your thoughts as you go along. You may find this is difficult to do every day—creativity can be mentally draining—and some PMPs choose to alternate which days they spend brainstorming.
Prepare for tomorrow. Each PMP has their own method for getting ready for the next day. Some work better by tying up today’s tasks, others prefer to focus on what needs to be done tomorrow. Either way, each day can be much more effective when there’s a plan for tackling time-sensitive tasks and critical-path activities. This is also the time to review task lists to be sure important items haven’t been overlooked and that every task on the list is a step toward your broader objectives.