How to Keep Balance as a PM? A Survival Guide
Effective self-management might be just that little difference between success and failure, good and great workers.
Effective self-management might be just that little difference between success and failure, good and great workers. Our PM Mira has recently shared many practical insights about sorting it out. Everything in this article is tried and true so that you can apply it at work and in personal life.
The tips come in three parts: communication, stress, and self-management in general. So let’s get to it!
Part 1. Communication
Why is communication important? Because if you don’t pay attention to it, you will learn the hard way.
According to Mira, her previous project was a great possibility to learn how to deal with remote developers. However, it came at a personal expense. Barriers to communication left her feeling lonely and hurt.
She had several miscommunication examples in her practice when she could not find common ground with developers. Not because they spoke “different languages”, but because the people simply did not possess basic communication skills. It’s double trouble when both sides have issues with communicating.
A list of communication skills to develop includes:
- Nonverbal Communication
- Respect & Self Respect
№1 advice is: communicate on time, accurately, and clearly.
Part 2. Stress management
Managing stress is a vital skill since it can have a detrimental impact on your health, and the working atmosphere in the office. It can trigger such physical symptoms as:
- Muscle tension
- Accelerated pulse and high blood pressure
- Reduced ability to concentrate
- Feeling of indifference
- “Heavy head” effect
- Heightened emotionality
- Feeling nauseous
If you recognize yourself in these lines, you are not alone. There is probably no working adult who didn’t feel stressed. Sometimes, you can just drink too much coffee and it will give you a similar “knee-trembling” experience.
“I’ve been there, I felt all of that,” Mira confessed.
“There are certain things that can get to me, and stress me out.” So how do you manage stress? Here are some pieces of advice from our PM:
Find the cause of stress. Local, not global. Customers are usually not a real reason for stress – you don’t get rid of them to manage it. If you received negative feedback, look for the real reasons, some mistakes you can eliminate – along with stress. People tend to get emotional when criticized, their ability to concentrate drops, and it reduces productivity even more. Try to maintain focus and deal with local issues fast.
Look for balance. Use whatever works for you. For example, Mira took up yoga.
Breathing Techniques. There are plenty of methods you can learn easily on the internet. They can do wonders! Sometimes, such a simple action as three deep breaths and maybe a short walk can turn things around. You will be able to get back to work and get things done.
Part 3. Self-management
This concluding part of the discussion is very important since self-management is king. If you can’t manage yourself, you won’t be able to manage other people, working processes, etc., and it will take a toll on your life.
Tools and practices to develop self-management skills include:
Decide. This is the first step in any sphere – deciding what to do. Being a firm decision-maker is not a tool but it’s working.
Prioritize. When you have priorities, you know which things are really urgent and important. It can be relevant both for work (e. g., tasks) and personal life.
Google calendar, Google spreadsheets, etc. All the tools that help organize your processes can be beneficial. Mira finds Google calendar very helpful for sorting out things, and uses spreadsheets even for personal purposes, like traveling check-lists.
Tasks keeper tool. It lists the tasks you do during the day, so you can move and prioritize them.
Notes. You can note not only the tasks but also thoughts and ideas. It can help you check what happened today, and plan the next day, week, or month.
Motivation books. Reading management literature can open your eyes to many aspects of life. For example, Mira loves reading Max Lucado and Bill Hybels and believes their books had a real impact on her life. Choose whatever kind of reading will give you that desired portion of Monday motivation.
Podcasts. There is a plethora to choose from. They can teach you how to manage your work and your life. It all comes down to the realization that these two are connected in a way that managing one is impossible without the other.
Community. We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. It is important to use your community to build each other. “At TRIARE, we have an awesome platform to support, motivate one another and share ideas”, said Mira. “Team Talks are just one example of that.”
Bonus: Check-list for hard times
Mira shared her personal list of things she does when times get rough. You can borrow as many of them as you like:)
Plan the next day. If there is a real opportunity to make a plan for the week – do it! It saves lives. Of course, there are some risks (broken car or bus, etc.) But even if you simply write down all of your tasks and assign them by day, it will give you an overall picture of the time you have.
Add a possible estimate to the tasks in your plans. For example, if you need to pay a visit to a doctor, assign 3 hours that day. Be as realistic as possible.
Get up at 5-6 a.m. You won’t believe how much time will free up.
Yoga. Mira uses yoga to relax and maintain her health. She enjoys doing it in the morning along with book reading.
Rituals. Small things you do regularly that set you up for work – coffee shops, sports, news, etc.
Begin on time. Determine the time that is perfect for you – when your productivity turns on. And be at work on time.
Eat the frog first. The truism which never gets old. Begin with the hardest task – and you will allocate your resources much more effectively.
The minimum number of tabs in the browser. This simple tip increases focus and reduces stress.
Take control of your time. For example, Mira used to estimate the time for meetings, and create notifications about the forthcoming ones. It can really set the right pace.
Writing reports on time. Your managers probably don’t need them at 9 p.m. Try writing reports right after you finish work. It might help organize the process a lot.
Finish work on time, always.
No overtimes. Finish work on time, always. Overtime can be fun if you get extra money for it. But it usually comes from an ineffective management
Go home and do what you love. Don’t just dissolve into a couch in front of the TV at the end of the day. Find something you really like, pursue it, and let it nourish you. It really helps build up an intrinsic motivation in all aspects of life.
Grow and inspire. If you achieved something, share it with others. Mutual support is what builds successful individuals and successful teams. At TRIARE, we strongly believe in it, and use different channels to communicate our experiences, ideas, and achievements. This article is just one example of it.
We hope these insights will help you survive and thrive. Stay tuned for more unique and impactful ideas from TRIARE’s team!