If any have taken (or take) a Project Management course you will be introduced to a new way to think about some of the simplest activities. Your morning routine turns into a daily project with tasks that have lead times, schedules, order, resources and constraints. Wait, a constraint in your morning routine? How is that possible?
Well a constraint is anything that limits or restricts your project (in this case a morning routine.) The bathroom may only hold one person (size constraint), so task sharing is out of the question. There may be only a little tooth paste or shampoo left (quantity constraint) and you choose to make it last one more day, until payday (money constraint.) There are tons of things that can restrict the simplest activities.
Most of these things you can plan for. You know when you are getting low on tooth paste and when you are getting paid next. You know that the bathroom holds one, or that the hot water disappears when the other bathroom is in use. You adjust your schedule and activities to account for these things. Get up earlier, stop by the store on the way to work, plan for revenge…
What happens when you don’t foresee a constraint? Or maybe you chose not to plan for something that you did foresee. Well, you break promises and fall behind, basically messing up your day, and possibly the day of a few others.
This month I had a plan to create a WordPress template and have it up and functional by September 1st. Well, I failed. Here is why;
- I did not anticipate how hot my office was going to get this summer. It got so hot that the computer would shut down! I don’t know about you, but I cannot work when it is that hot in an enclosed space. I would get an hour of work in and everything would get weird. I was dehydrated and the computer overheating. This does not make for a good day. Anyway that took me from 12-20 hours a week to 7 -10 hours (late nights mostly.) That right there is enough to derail any project.
- I did not anticipate how hard it was going to be for me to learn and understand the WordPress system, as a developer. WP is easy enough as a user, it is VERY different on the developer side. I counted on my past as a quick study to move this project along. Well I did not do so well on that respect. Maybe the heat and short study times were part of the problem. Either way, I did not succeed. I spent a lot of time researching the smallest things and doing tests that would fail, because of the smallest things.
- I did not account for other projects. Even though I budgeted a lot of time for this project (well over 30 days.) I did not take into account the other projects that I ended up doing. I did a lot of other stuff during this time. 2-3 days were devoted to events, and many hours to graphics for each event. I was happy to be out of the office most of the time, since it was so hot, but that still took away from the project time.
There were other things that caused problems. I had personal things (updating my site, creating business cards, blogging, family time etc) that I needed to do. Events that I had scheduled months in advance (RenFaire, Family visiting, house hunting, and PAX(is so close!!)) took precedents over the project at hand. And I LET IT!
That is the big thing. I let other things become more important than my WP project. Now I am paying for it. I have to tell the team that I do not have the product I was sure would be ready next week. Now I have to beg for another month to get the product done (the basic product,) and more time to get the improved version done.
It sucks. It really sucks, that we (everyone does it a some point) let things distract us from what needs to be done. Things like this is why people with great ideas get no where. We let ourselves be distracted by the small things.
Well it is time to get back in gear. I have already broken down my project into small manageable tasks, and those into sub-tasks. I have set up a schedule that includes all of the expected (and some improbable) constraints. I am going to finish my project.
I invite everyone to join me. Get a project DONE in September.