Do You Project Manage Your Life? The worst people to manage are project managers. You need a system to manage your own projects. Andrew Meyer recently commented on Project Manager Interview Questions. I started to reply but realized that this would make a great post. Andrew’s comment is about what questions to ask candidates when interviewing for a position in project management. Actually, my favorite question involves two parts. I love to find out about a major event in someone’s personal life, such as getting married. I also want to know if they have a project schedule, project plan, etc. Is there a project schedule and plan they put together for their wedding? I have never heard anyone say they created a project plan for their trip, wedding, or house sale. The question that follows is “Why?” Isn’t it just like a project, with multiple parties involved that need to know what’s happening and multiple deadlines? Why not use project management at work? This is a question I would love to know the answers to. Interesting question Andrew. I don’t think I care that much if they use these things within their personal lives. I find it a bit uncomfortable to ask questions about their personal lives. I care about their behavior at work. I get what you mean. What about questions about how they organize themselves and stay on task at work? How do they make sure they get things done? I have, for example, set up some systems that are kind of like scaled-down versions to some project management processes. Do they meet my definition of “project”? ?No. ?No. Let’s discuss mini-project task management. Manage your Inbox like a Mini-Project

  • Initiation: Hmmm…perhaps the act putting this system into place is the “initiation”.
  • Planning:?Scheduled blocks for email address. Additional time is reserved for this purpose when I’m not in the office.
  • Executing: I work on each one right away and, if necessary, create a new task.
  • Monitoring and Controlling:?Smack me around if I get distracted. I can figure out why it took me so long to get through my email. ?It was usually because I was distracted and didn’t know it. ?Then I kicked myself. ? (bruise = Lessons Learned File)
  • Closing:?When you’re done, your email box will always contain 0 unread mails. That’s my “deliverable”? and how I know when I’m done.

Manage Small Activities as They Arise. I have a folder called “activities” on my hard drive that contains “active”, “completed”, “cancelled”, and “cancelled”. The image to the right shows an example.

  • Initiation: I do not change the date. This is my working directory for all files and notes. The activity. ?By creating the folder, I have “authorized” myself to work on this mini project.
  • Planning:?My “active folder” serves as a way to plan my day. I use the information in the folders as a guide to estimate the time I will need to complete specific activities. Depending on the activity, I may sometimes draw a WBS to make sure I accomplish the objective(s).
  • Executing: If I’m going to talk to people to make it happen, I leave it up. I record conversations and save files as necessary. Everything is in one place

Do you procrastinate? This is the Right Time to Read It!

By Ashley Wilson
We all have our moments of putting off tasks.
Perhaps you have a project you know will require a lot of brainpower and you don’t know where to start.
Procrastination is a dangerous habit. Procrastination can not only affect your productivity, but it can also lead to missed opportunities due to failure to meet an important deadline.
Source: Pexels
It’s time to stop procrastinating. Here are some top tips.
Understanding Why You Procrastinate
Sometimes you procrastinate at your job because you feel that you have to answer all of your emails, texts, and messages immediately. Sometimes you end up scrolling through social media or making phone calls that you will be able to handle later.
Find out why you procrastinate and create a plan.
If you are having difficulties because you respond to every message that comes your way then you should stop checking your devices for a certain period of time. Make sure you have time for correspondence in your daily schedule.
You can look for ways to make things easier if you procrastinate because writing your book or working on a project seems overwhelming. Do you have any tools that you can use? Can you delegate some of your work? You can also use your project management best practice and break it down into manageable parts. It will not be intimidating and you will be able to get started much quicker.
Optimize Your Environment
Optimizing your work environment is easy if you’re in a traditional office. You can choose a desk away from the noise and distractions of the office.
If you are one of many people who work from home, you may need to work harder to make your environment as good as possible.
You will need to ensure that your room has enough light to keep you awake and a reliable internet connection. It is important that you communicate with your family members about when you are not available.
You might also want to optimize your office space by choosing furniture you are comfortable using for many hours each day. Uncomfortable chairs can reduce productivity.
Attention Vampires are gone!
Get to know your vampires. These are the things that grab you attention and’sucker’ your productivity time. You might find yourself checking your collaboration tool messages every time an IM appears at the bottom of your screen. Perhaps you are a fan of social media. You might also love to surf the internet and click from one story to another.
Whatever the reason, if you divert your attention from the task at hand, it will take more time for you to achieve your goals.
If you need to be completely focused, turn off your phone and put your tools in “do not disturb” mode.
Although it may take some time to adjust to this new way to work, it will pay off in the long-term. Be strict with yourself. If you manage to keep your attention from becoming a distraction, consider rewarding yourself with a reward at the conclusion of the day.
Break down your tasks
Last but not least, procrastination is a major cause of stress in many workplaces. Some tasks seem too difficult or large to handle.
If you are anxious about a large project, it may be easier to break it down into smaller tasks. This will help you manage your time better.
Take a look at the tasks you have to complete each day and divide your schedule into segments. This will allow you to prioritize the most difficult tasks and make your workflow more efficient. You might, for example, start by eating the frog and then move on to the thing you dread most.
A schedule that allows you to move from one task to another, rather than trying to manage multiple tasks at once, is a better way to organize your life.

Are you giving your team enough praise?

Erika Flora guest posts
This great quote was given to me years ago and has remained with me ever since. It’s as follows:
There are no limits to what you can do, as long as you don’t care about who gets credit.
General of the Army George C. Marshall
Staff Sgt. Staff Sgt.
This is a great idea! It’s so easy to get so focused on our careers and jobs that we forget to think about the people around us and help them achieve their goals. Since I made a conscious effort in the past to?let go?, my work attitude has changed dramatically. My work attitude has changed dramatically, regardless of who gets the credit. My team and my coworkers have also changed how they view my work. They see me as their champion and work hard to be the best they can. Instead of worrying about whether the executive management sees all my great work and positioning myself accordingly for the next great promotion, instead, I focus on mentoring others, and helping them get recognized for their hardwork. Part of my work week is spent thinking about how I can make my team’s efforts visible and worthy of praise.
Many employees feel that their work is not valued. It’s terrible! It is the best thing we can do to help our direct reports, coworkers, colleagues, and project team members is to find creative ways of showing our appreciation and making sure everyone knows they have made a valuable contribution. We all love being praised for our hard work. You should make sure that you are actively doing this for others.
This concept has been implemented by many companies. Pfizer had a program called the Pfish program. This allowed you to send a Pfish card for a variety reasons, such as being a team player, doing extra work, or just making someone’s day. Each week, all those who had received a Pfishcard were entered in a raffle to win a gift certificate. The best part about the Pfish cards program was that each recipient received an email from their boss. It was a fun program that made employees feel appreciated and special.
To show appreciation for others, you don’t have to create a company program. These are some simple things you can do that will make a difference in the lives and livelihoods of those around. Submit your project team to an internal award, external?Project Of The Year?, or any other award. Many professional organizations are open to receiving submissions for all types of awards. They are often excited to receive new submissions from companies and people they have never met before. Log onto LinkedIn to write unrequested recommendations for people you’ve enjoyed working with. Write a thank you email to your boss for helping with a difficult project. Start a ?Thanks a latte!? Send a newsletter to thank your team members. Post it at work. The more creative and silly you are, the better. You will be amazed at the results. Although it may seem counterintuitive, project managers shine the brightest when their teams shine. What are some other examples of how you have helped your team shine and brighten their day?
Erika Flora, PMP, ITIL [email protected]

Do you over-deliver?

Flickr, by TMAB2003
It is something that gets a lot lip service.
But are you doing it?
If you help enough people, you can get everything you want in your life.
-Zig Ziglar
Rob from Singapore asked about how to gain project management experience when you start as an individual contributor on projects. I answered that question on a new experiment at pmStudent.org. I’ll now riff on it.
Be known for being a person who delivers.
Are you an individual contributor? Are you the type of person that everyone enjoys working with? Are people able to trust you to deliver the results you promised?
Be the person who inspires others. How does she/he do it? Or “I hope I get the chance to work with him/her on this project.”
I don’t mean to under-promise
You shouldn’t expect low expectations so that you can arrive with your cape waving in wind to get an early delivery. That’s not how you build trust.
Realistic expectations should be realistic and reasonable.
I mean going above and beyond. Volunteer your time to help a project manager compile data. It doesn’t need to be a lot but it must be of high quality. Spend less time watching TV and invest more in yourself and your reputation with your coworkers.
It’s more than just about time
You don’t need to be a workaholic. I was once the operations manager for a start up wireless ISP in the USA. I worked to the point of exhaustion, and the work-life balance was not there. It was horrible.
Since then, I have been working a 45-hour work week. I have become very focused on my personal productivity at work to ensure that I get everything done in the 45-hour time frame.
However, when a crisis occurs, I’ll do my best to work as hard as I can to solve it. Sometimes it’s as simple as staying up a bit longer to complete a critical report that was due for a meeting the next morning that was just scheduled an hour ago. You can either flex your time or donate it. It took me a month to complete a project that was 60+ hours long. Unfortunately, the project ran into a problem towards the end.
No matter what it is, be the person everyone can trust when things get difficult. If someone needs to make a crucial shot, they will throw the ball to them.
Expect nothing in return
You will receive a lot in return, but don’t expect it. You will often not be recognized. You will not be given the job you want. It will happen. It’s okay to do it for yourself, and when you get something else, consider it a happy bonus.
LinkedIn recommendations is a small example of networking. I might receive 2 for every 10 time-consuming, sincere recommendations I make for others.
So be it.
I offered an honest and thoughtful recommendation to someone who deserved it.
That’s all.

Have questions about project management? I’m currently doing a few podcasts, and we just released new episodes yesterday.

  • What’s the latest in Project Management?
  • Not the Status Report

Josh from the pmStudent studio is here to help. I am starting a new podcast that uses a question-and-answer format. I will answer your questions and you can ask them. This is for new and aspiring project managers, who are the main focus of pmStudent.com. I want to ask specific questions. Please tell us about your industry and background. Do you want us to have a good starting point for making recommendations? Each question will be covered in a 5–10 minute show. This is my goal. (I like the short format shows) You don’t even need to leave your name so it can remain anonymous as you wish.

  • Questions about the career of a project manager
  • how-to
  • Education
  • Certification

Depending on how many questions there are, I may not be in a position to answer them all in the podcast. However, I will respond to your email as soon as possible. While I will likely cover many of these topics myself, I may occasionally bring in guest hosts to help me out, especially if they have industry or experience that can provide unique insight. So what are you waiting? You can find new shows on the pmStudent.com blog. They will also soon be available in iTunes as a podcast feed subscription.

ActiveCollab, a Single Tool For The Entire Team – Arisnova

Borja Gramage is responsible for organizational development at Arisnova. Since 1989, I am the second generation of a Spanish company that has been developing control systems, automation and custom software. Our applications are unique and intuitive, and can be used by many roles within the company. It is possible to adapt their use to suit the most basic or challenging jobs. GAS PLANT, SMARTPORT are two examples of our innovations. Arisnova is a family-owned company with 45 employees. We are currently in the evolution and growth phase. We have several initiatives internally to digitize our processes, and professionalize our operations. We decided to use ActiveCollab in one of our digitalization initiatives.
We didn’t have a common work method. In a company with 30-35 employees, organizing was easy. Small teams had their own management methods on different platforms (Trello Excel, Excel, etc.). We didn’t measure the workload of our coworkers. With a staff of 30-35 employees, it is clear that the workload is not your primary concern. Because communication is fluid, it’s easy for the team to identify which tasks they are working on. We failed to record information. We live in the generation and sharing of data. We create applications that monitor and control in real-time over 12 million variables. That’s insane at an industrial level. We had been developing projects for more than 30 years, but we didn’t consider measuring in-depth concepts like profitability, hours tracked, and lags. We were able to see the significant numbers, but not enough detail. This was a company that is constantly developing cutting-edge technology. There was a lot of paper in the office. Everything was done in person and used different methods. We needed to make sure we had a great 30 years of enjoyment.
We needed a tool that would standardize our work process. Validating work and working by iterations is essential in today’s software development industry. ActiveCollab facilitates this method by allowing you to create task lists that allow you to identify if the tasks have been completed, in CYCLE, DOING or DONE. It is easy to assign and distribute tasks.
Establishing priorities.
Description of the scope of a task.
Allocate hours to the appropriate tasks
The Stopwatch improvement has made it possible to record hours spent on projects. ActiveCollab has allowed us to record three years worth of hours and attribute them to projects. We also find it very useful to have a retrospective view of how you spent your time. Knowing your workload
This new feature is being used by our team. It has been difficult to use ActiveCollab since we have multiple projects in progress. The scopes (dates, estimates) change almost every week. The team is trying to keep track of the workload and avoid any potential peaks/attrition among our colleagues.
We needed an API to integrate with other tools such as ERP, budgeting, Power BI, and more. ActiveCollab is more than a tool. It is a part of our daily improvement.
ActiveCollab has made a significant improvement in our day-today operations. We have seen a significant improvement in our budgeting, as I mentioned earlier. There is less intuition, and more information. The teams are more cross-functional. A common tool and one project management method can be used.

ActiveCollab 5.5 Delivers Major Features

Mail to project
You can create tasks and comment directly from your email. It’s not a problem: When you receive an email notification, send a reply to add a comment.
To create tasks, send or forward emails to the project email address.
View of the Column
Your tasks can be viewed as cards on a Kanban board. You can then move them across columns to spot bottlenecks and improve your task management skills. With task lists such as “Backlog”, In Progress”, “Done”, and “Done”, agile workflows will feel more natural. Get our free ebook to learn more about how powerful this feature is and what you can do.
Tasks now have a start and due date. This allows you to plan projects more precisely and communicate the start and due dates with your team. Timeline view
Webhooks
Notify 3rd party services about what’s happening in ActiveCollab.Integrate with existing apps or create your own custom workflows. Easy update
Basecamp importer
All Basecamp projects can be moved to ActiveCollaband and you can continue where you left off.

ActiveCollab 5.14

We’ll begin a rollout for our major update to ActiveCollab on Saturday, 23 December. Due to a batch upgrade and rebuild of search data, the process will last for the whole weekend. All release updates will be available during this time, but search may not work until all indexes have been rebuilt. Search overhaul
We had to modify the system slightly in order to achieve this. The latest ElasticSearch is used in the Backend. We also restructured indexes to make them more efficient and avoid stability issues. The frontend has been redesigned to be faster and provide more sorting and filtering options. Search behaves more predictably now that results can be sorted by relevance or by date. The system will return elements that include’mar’, market’ or ‘Marco’ if you search for’mar. Cloud customers will automatically receive the new release. We only ask for a little patience while search indexes are built. Customers who self-host ActiveCollab must install and connect ElasticSearch 6 or a newer version. Our team has redesigned the entire connection process so that it guides you through each step and informs the system administrator what is required to get the new search feature running. Hungarian localization
ActiveCollab’s new version features a new Hungarian locale, which will be of interest to customers from Hungary. This means you can now issue invoices in Hungarian, and invite clients and colleagues who don’t speak any of the 13 languages ActiveCollab supports. System requirements
It’s funny that ActiveCollab 5.14 has our 14th localization. This is another example of how version numbers can play tricks with you. The previous version was ActiveCollab5.6. We started to require PHP 5.6. This was more than a year ago. That was over a year ago. This was two years ago! Both PHP 7.1 and PHP 7.2 came with performance optimizations. Although not as dramatic as PHP 7.0, you can expect even more results. We have to increase the minimum system requirements for the new release of PHP7 because PHP ecosystem (libraries, tools) is constantly moving to PHP7. ActiveCollab 5.14 requires PHP 7.1 or higher (yes, ActiveCollab 5.14 works with PHP 7.2).
2.MySQL 5.7.8 due to the ‘new JSON field.
For new installations, we are also discontinuing support for IIS. ActiveCollab customers who have ActiveCollab installed on IIS will still be supported. However, new installations will require ActiveCollab to be installed on nginx and Apache. ActiveCollab is more comfortable on Unix-like operating systems than Windows. However, Windows will still be supported. Self-hosted ActiveCollab 5.14 is coming soon. If ActiveCollab 5.13.141 is not installed, you may need to upgrade first. This version includes some improvements that will assist you in the upgrade to v5.14 (by clearly communicating your environment checks during auto-upgrade). Thank you for reading! We hope you enjoy the new release as much we enjoyed creating it. Happy holidays!

Announcement for ActiveCollab 5.0.78

ActiveCollab 5.0.78 is now available to self-hosted customers. This release is important as it doesn’t depend on Heartbeat. It uses a job queue that is similar to Heartbeat’s, but it is now part of ActiveCollab. After a month of beta testing, it was really difficult to establish a reliable connection between Heartbeat instances and ActiveCollab instances. These instances were running on many different networks and PHP configurations. This caused many problems for beta testers.
Problems caused by the inability to connect ActiveCollab and Heartbeat can lead to a terrible user experience. It didn’t work and you couldn’t do anything about it. The new job queue gives you control.
We know that job queue works well. ActiveCollab 3 & 4 used one for outgoing mail over many years.
These are the new jobs currently covered:Outgoing email- You specify SMTP server connection parameters within the System Settings. ActiveCollab will then use this server to send the mail.
Search indexing- search uses ElasticSearch. You will need it (plus an Attachments Mapper) to use the search.
Morning mail is prepared and sent by an hourly Cron Job at 7 AM.
An hourly Cron Job performs various maintenance tasks at 4 AM.
The jobs don’t currently cover inbound mail and auto-upgrade. ActiveCollab can create tasks and comments from the messages you send it, so they will soon. We wanted to get the beta out the door as quickly as possible so we had to leave those features behind for the next sprint.
We encourage you to use ActiveCollab 5 if you are new to it. You can find installation instructions here. If you have ActiveCollab 4 installed (previous beta build v5), you will need to follow these steps: Go to my.activecollab.com, click on Licenses option. You can then download ActiveCollab 5.78.
Unpack the ZIP archive
Upload `/activecollab/5.0.78` from the package to `/activecollab/5.0.78` folder of your current ActiveCollab 5 installation. Don’t delete `/activecollab/5.0.49` from your server just yet, we still need it.
Upload all files from the ActiveCollab.78 installation package to the empty /tasks directory on your server. We’ll need all of these files, including `activecollab-cli.php`, as well as all three cron jobs that are in `/tasks/cron_jobs` folder.
Overwrite `/activecollab/5.0.49/angie/src/Angie/Command/UpgradeCommand.php` file with the same file from the new package,
Use your terminal to cd into the /tasks directory on your server and type: php activatecollab-cli.php update. This command will run all the required database migrations and upgrade your `/config/version.php` file.
Delete all files in /compile or /cache folders.
Log in to your account and navigate to System Settings. There you will find technical settings that allow you to configure outgoing mail, search and Cron jobs.
That’s it. If you notice any problems or need our help, do get in touch at [email protected]

ActiveCollab 5.0.100: The Stable Version

ActiveCollab 5.0.97 has been released as a release candidate. It’s only a step away to the stable release. The new ActiveCollab was developed in the summer 2014 and we are confident it will be ready for use by spring 2015. Although it’s October now and ActiveCollab is almost finished, we are working on the next version. It is important to note that everything works and there aren’t any show-stopping bugs. It’s the perfect time to upgrade if you have been waiting for stable release. You have two options: either download the ActiveCollab and install it yourself, or let us upgrade it for your installation credit. It’s not just an updated and slightly improved version, it’s totally different. We made sure that the new ActiveCollab didn’t overwrite any of your data or previous versions. It is installed separately and once your data has been migrated, ActiveCollab 5 can function independently. So, create a free trial on our cloud and play around with it before you upgrade. You can find more information about the upgrade in our upgrade guide.