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Manage Your ‘Top Three’ Issues or Priorities

“Predominately focus on managing to the most important and urgent issues every day. Your overall effectiveness here has a direct bearing on the success of your project—and your career.”

-Neal Whitten

Recently, a friend asked me how I stay organized with my day-to-day work as a Project Manager (PM) and what tools I use to stay on track with my tasks. He had to temporarily fill a PM role himself recently while his company was in the process of hiring and bringing a new PM on board.

My answer to his question was: it’s not about tools or techniques I use to stay on top of my projects; it’s about always working on top three issues or top three priorities. Inevitably, top three issues or priorities may change throughout the day, the week, or the month. I am constantly evaluating and re-prioritizing my work to respond to top three issues or priorities for that particular day. It serves no purpose to my projects, my project teams, nor my customers, if the most important task today were to get the Statement of Work (SOW) reviewed, finalized, and signed with the vendor. I also want the vendor and project team to absolutely have to agree upon a detailed test plan on the same day. [Note: from a project scheduling perspective, a test plan is finalized prior testing begins.]

The truth is as a PM, at some point, you’ll find yourself with too much work to barely fit it in during a normal business day. My advice is: throughout the day, pause periodically, ask yourself, “Am I working on top three issues or priorities? Is what I am working on right now the best use of my time to help my project teams and my customers today?” If the answer is no, be disciplined, pause whatever task you’re working on, and start working on one of your top three issues or priorities. By always working on top three issues or priorities, you’ll steer your projects to a positive direction.

I encourage everyone to check out Neal’s article.

7 Stress Management Tips during Job Search

“Be here now.”
-Zen Saying

1. Meditate

Meditation is a wonderful way to reduce stress. You’ll find that it helps you learn how to get away from the worries of life to a more peaceful state of mind. Just a few minutes of meditation everyday can make a huge difference by bringing peace and relaxation to your body, mind, spirit. One meditation technique is to focus on your breath. By focusing on your breath for a few minutes, you will notice your thoughts start to slow down. Your mind becomes clear and you will be more relaxed.

2. Eat healthy.

We are what we eat. I recommend eating as many fruits and vegetables as you can. Fruits and vegetables have the highest prana of any food category. Check out fruit & vegetable benefits published by CDC.

3. Exercise

Exercise is great for relieving stress and making us feel better. Exercise also increases the level of brain chemicals called growth factors that help make new brain cells and establish new connections between brain cells to help us learn.

4. Include humor in your life.

I absolutely love funny movies and hilarious news quiz programs. Laughter is the best medicine. Check out Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda 2, NPR: Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell me.

5. Spend time in nature.

Nature is nurturing and healing. Take time to watch sunrises and sunsets. Take a walk on the beach. Watch ocean waves crashing against the shore line. Breathe in the ocean air. Gaze brown pelicans flying through the sky…

6. Be grateful.

The study by Dr. Robert A. Emmons has shown practicing gratitude can increase happiness by 25%. The practice of gratitude is simple and easy to do. Get a piece of paper or a journal. Write down things you’re grateful for.

7. Help others.

The fastest way to be happy is to do something for someone else with no expectation that they will do anything for you in return. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen, give a homeless person a dollar or just give a warm smile to the cashier where you shop. There are countless ways to help others. By helping others, we feel good about ourselves. When we are feeling good, we tend not to ruminate on the past or worry about the future.

The Art of Appreciation

“Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. Give honest and sincere appreciation”

Dale Carnegie

I came across this certificate of appreciation template while organizing a project success lunch for my project team a few months ago.

This certificate was printed out on quality paper with individual project team member’s name on it. It was given to each of the project team members during the celebration lunch as a token of gratitude for their hard work.

When I walk into the offices of the project team members, the first thing catches my eyes is this certificate. I noticed the certificate is always placed at a spot that catches every visitor’s attention.

As Dale Carnegie points out in How to Win Friends & Influence People, we all want to feel important. We want to be recognized for our talent and our work. Being recognized makes us feel good. Being recognized makes us feel our contribution to a project is worth while. Being recognized makes us feel our help makes a difference.

Find an opportunity this week to e-mail a colleague a thank you e-mail on a job well done, on an informative presentation, or on completing a project task on time. Your act of appreciation will undoubtedly brighten someone’s day.

What are IT Job Trends?

Top 10 Job Trends

- HTML 5
– Mobile App
– Android
– Twitter
– jQuery
– Facebook
– Social Media
– iPhone
– Cloud Computing
– Virtualization

Source: Job Trends

Computer Software Engineer

- The work for computer software engineers is expected to increase by 32 percent from 2008-2018, which is much faster than the average.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011Edition

Industry Hiring

- According to a survey with technology executives, CIOs in the retail and manufacturing anticipate a hiring increase of 8 percent in the third quarter of 2011.

Source: Mid-Year IT Hiring Update: Outlook Brightens

Positions in Top Demand

- Network administrators
– Help desk and desktop support professionals
– Windows administrators

Source: The Robert Half Professional Employment Report

Top 10 IT Certifications

- Project Management Professional Certification (PMP)
– Microsoft’s Certified Systems Engineer Certification (MCSE)
– CompTIA A+ Certification (A+)
– Cisco Certified Network Associates (CCNA)
– Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)
– CompTIA Network+ Certification (Network+)
– Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
– Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator certification (MCSA)
– ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) Certification
– CompTIA Security+ Certification (Security+)

Source: Top Ten Certifications That Can Boost Your Pay

The Art of War

“A victorious army first wins and seeks battle; a defeated army first battles and then seeks victory.”
– Sun Tzu

The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military strategy written by Sun Tzu over 2,000 years ago. It is wildly recognized as one of the oldest and most successful books on military tactics. The Art of War has been applied to military applications, corporate politics, and corporate strategy in the modern world.

Recently, in preparing a business presentation to a panel of 15 executive management, in order to build up the mental strength and clarity that I needed on the day of the presentation, I began to read Sun Tzu daily two weeks prior to the actual presentation. (Note: I have read Sun Tzu many, many times prior to this reading. I have always loved this powerful and ancient text. I am amazed how relevant the principles of Sun Tzu’s philosophy apply to the business world.)

Sun Tzu says a victorious warrior knows he has already won the battle prior engaging himself in a battle. To apply this principle, besides practicing my presentation to the point I knew it inside out, I visualized I had already delivered this presentation successfully. In my visualization, I confidently set up my laptop and projector. I explained each PowerPoint slide with clarity. I answered questions from the panel with poise and grace. I thanked the panel with gratitude. I efficiently disconnected my laptop from the projector at the end of the presentation. I walked off from the front of the room with ease.

Thanks to Sun Tzu’s teaching. The presentation went well. I highly recommend this book. May you gain abundant career insight from reading this book.

Short List of Project Management Tips

Show sincere appreciation.

What rewards can you give team members in appreciation of a job well done?
Do not forget to show them your appreciation.

RMC Tip of The Day

Master listening.

Masterful communicators have learned that building a comfortable rapport is finding the divine balance between speaking and listening. Most people are too intent on speaking. They don’t realize that the only way to get a true reading on another person is to listen to what they have to say. It sounds obvious. But listening often involves learning how to be silent and waiting for the other person to express his viewpoint. Silence often opens the door to active, fruitful conversation. In time, you’ll learn to be an empathetic listener.
Four Tips for Improving People Skills

Come with solutions, not just problems.

We have all heard the maxim, “There are no such things as problems, only opportunities.” This is a good rule to abide by, especially when meeting with your boss. Be clear on what you want from your boss such as advice, support, actions, or acceptance. Don’t just say you have a problem and toss the monkey.
2011 PMO Tips of The Week

Realize that shifting priorities are a fact of organizational life.

Priorities change constantly in any organization. New challenges arise that require a response from the organization and that response requires that resources be moved from one activity to another. In most instances, those resources come from projects that are as a result of the shift in emphasis no longer as important as they were yesterday.
Project Management Tips

Don’t take the situation too personally.

There is a real danger in getting too emotionally “invested” in your projects. When this happens, anything that negatively impacts the project – whether you can do anything about it or not – takes on a sinister aspect. You must accept that there will always be things that will impact your projects over which you have little or no control. When these occur, you can only react as best you can with the good of the project as your primary aim.
Project Management Tips

FREE Class: 7 Secrets for Job Search

Focus • Career Success • Insight • Achievement
Saturday, June 18
1:00 – 2:00PM
Serra Mesa Library
9005 Aero Drive
Sudberry Room

Introducing Beyond Career Success

Beyond Career Success is dedicated to help as many people as possible to achieve career success.

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