Project Practitioners > Sanity check: What is MOST important for your time in the next week?

Sanity check: What is MOST important for your time in the next week?

By Cinda Voegtli

Step back from the trees and bushes and weeds of each project -- and contemplate the overall forest. See the big picture, not just the details.  The goals, not just the tasks.  The results needed, not just efforts at hand.  The risks, not just the work plan. 

Specifically, ask yourself this: For us to accomplish what ultimately matters, what is truly MOST important for me as the PM to do this week?  

Questions such as the following will help feret out places for high-leverage attention:

  • Is there a particular upcoming critical target date, a major milestone?  (Then who do I need to talk to, to make sure the urgency is understood, any coordination between groups required to satisfy that milestone is happening, and universal attention is being paid to completing it?)  
  • Is there (or could there be) any doubt right now, anywhere on the team, about what the most important customer goals are?  (If there is, some work could be going off the rails as we speak, with team members focusing on the wrong things as their highest priority, possibly jeopardizing the completion of what IS most important.  So what clarification do I need to get and/or spread, to make sure the team IS focusing on the right work for the most important goals?)
  • Who is on the critical path this week, and do they realize it?  (Then what should I do to be crystal clear about the urgency of their work?   What should I do to make sure they are not waiting on someone else?)
  • What ONE THING would be most likely to damage the team's efforts this week?  (Then what should I proactively DO about that?)  

The point here is to think "high leverage" and "proactive."   Your time is scarce and precious. You are the one can see the big picture -  if you stop long enough to do so, and then take action to "make sure".

(Sometimes, many times, getting team meeting minutes out is not the most important immediate thing on your list! To paraphrase from an earlier interview, would you rather have to tell your boss that you didn't get the meeting minutes out yet, or that the schedule is about to slip because the person on the critical path didn't realize the criticality of their work this week?)

The beginning of the week is a great time to step back, ask such questions, and plan  your week for maximum impact.  There are too many things we COULD do with our precious time.  What is your smaller, most important set of MUSTS, for the upcoming week?

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