Throughout our life, the world tries to prepare us to be effective human beings. Science fairs, group projects, even just navigating public transit builds skills in organization, leadership and high-level thinking.
Despite our best efforts, however, many of us still suffer from a lack of basic project management skills.
Whether it’s waiting til the last second to finish a project, being unprepared for curveballs or a total lack of budgeting skills, most of us could benefit from a project management course to get us on track.
Even if you’re not looking to become a full-time project manager, you’d be surprised how useful basic project management skills are.
Still not convinced? Here are five surprising ways a project management course could benefit you.
1. Learn how to budget.
Sixty-nine percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
If you’re part of that majority, you’re probably familiar with how difficult it can be to manage a strict budget. Sticking to one requires not only willpower, but also a good understanding of time management, organization and resource planning.
Successful business owners always understand their company’s budget. No trip, meal or investment is unaccounted for, and they never run amok with the company credit card.
Imagine if you were able to apply those same project management skills to your personal finances -- how much money would you save?
The most effective way to stick to a budget is to make saving a habit.
Most of us don’t have the resources to throw $1,000 into savings all at once, so reaching that goal requires discipline and goal-setting. Developing the habit of putting even just a few dollars each week (and not pulling them out a month later!) can reap enormous financial benefits in the long run.
2. Meet more deadlines.
With a boatload of organization apps at your disposal, there’s no way deadlines still creep up on you, right? If you answered “No way,” then consider yourself lucky. Statistics report that up to 40 percent of people have experienced some kind of financial loss due to procrastination.
Project management is a vital skill that any entrepreneur or professional needs in their toolkit. You’re only human, after all -- when you’re juggling multiple projects at once, you absolutely need a strategy to maintain balance and provide equal value to each.
Even without a course, there are elements of project management that you can apply to your daily life right now to be a more effective (and less rushed) person. Creating a to-do list each day, or even a breakdown by the hour is an extremely effective practice to keep you on track.
3. Accomplish your goals faster.
We’ve all sat through at least one leadership training seminar, right? Where SMART goals and worksheets are abundant? These exercises are great, but the trouble comes when we toss the worksheet and forget to implement our goals the next day at work.
The fact is, if we were all stellar at goal-setting by birth, we’d probably have significantly more successful entrepreneurs by now. Project management courses allow you to not only assess your goals but to create actionable steps toward reaching them.
What are you working toward? Take 10 minutes out of your day and create a list of accomplishments you want to achieve in the next year. Next, tackle the next five years. The sooner you visualize your goal, the sooner you end up exactly where you want to be.
Effective project managers know that no venture, business or personal, is taken on without planning ahead. Why should your big dream be left up to chance?
4. Become a better leader.
Have you ever worked for a boss or client that really doesn’t have a grip on the company’s mission? If you have, you know it can be exhausting putting in double the effort for little benefit or reward.
Schedules, deadlines and team management can be difficult -- especially in a large organization -- but not impossible. What is impossible for your team, however, is working under the leadership of someone who is constantly scraping by.
Take a moment to break down what your company is working on, either by hand or on a project management tool like Trello. Visualizing the road ahead gives you (and your teammates) a clearer path to success, with fewer bumps and roadblocks along the way.
No one wants to be the boss (or project lead) that’s causing everyone headaches and stress. Investing in a project management course trains you in organization, which ultimately will make you a more effective leader.
5. Spot problems sooner.
One of the key skills of an effective project manager is spotting problems and solving them before they snowball.
Even if you’re not working toward becoming a full-time project manager, the ability to predict misdirection before it happens is a skill any effective professional should have.
Imagine if you could sense hostility from your neighbor before they called the block association on your sprinkler system, or knew your associate at work was headed in the wrong direction on a project before a big meeting with a client. Spotting problems sooner will benefit every aspect of your life.
An essential part of foresight is organization, which is exactly what effective project management boils down to. How can you expect to see potential problems if you’re always a mess or cruising in right before the deadline?
Ultimately, the only way to be an effective professional is to remain on top of (and in control of) your work. Without an understanding of the basics of organization, goal-setting, project management and teamwork, you’ll spend more effort on projects that take your peers half the time.
Stay ahead of the curb, be proactive and understand the way you function best. Your work (and your stress levels) will thank you