Sometimes, or rather too frequently, traits that make you excel at your job cross impishly over to your non-work life. For example, the eagle eye of the subeditor; or the design-obsessed designer. So it should come as no surprise that project managers are not spared from this affliction either.
Reading my job description, it’s easy to see how some of the skills needed are not just job specific; they’re a part of who I am, whether I like it or not. Welcome to the personal life of a project manager.
Event Planner Extraordinaire
Family members leave me to do the planning of trips, from short one-day outings to long holidays. The main difference is there is a team of just one (l’il ol’ me) on this project. Now, my family members and friends have morphed into ‘clients’, each wielding different and sometimes conflicting requirements. So it feels like I am still working.
This usually doesn’t bother me, because I am totally up for doing days of research. I’ll sniff out places to go, food to eat, best flight times and prices and then put together an itinerary that will fulfil everyone’s demands (mostly because I dislike tours and have a bit of control freakiness, but that’s a story for another day). I enjoy seeing everyone have fun together on that trip. But we are not miracle workers and when you insist on nothing short than a miracle… I want to throw my hands up in the air and give up. And sometimes, I do.
Clients (Friends) from Hell
Case in point — once, I had plans to go on a trip with a friend whose requirements are long and varied. Some of which are: the hotel room needed a microwave, the hotel needed to be ‘cheap’ but not look or feel cheap, the hotel must be in a safe area near public transport; and the kicker: a four-day trip was too short but a week-long trip was too long. In conclusion, the requirements were too high and the budget was too low. Needless to say, I didn’t plan, nor go on the trip.
Or how about another holiday with another friend: the budget airline flew in too late/early but full cost-carriers were too expensive. Staying in the city centre was too noisy, but staying outside of the city centre was too inconvenient. This trip was doomed to fail. I canned it due to unrealistic expectations. Yes, I like organising. But I don’t like it that much.
*Not entirely true.
The Secret of My Success
All that being said, I have gone on trips with friends and we had a ball of a time. In these cases, everyone was very involved in the whole planning process, everyone provided very helpful suggestions and everyone was open to compromise. Planning for those trips made me really excited and what can I say, we had a blast. (I wish all my projects were like this…).
So, in short: appreciate that project manager lurking in your family or group of friends. You know, the one who usually handles all the planning and preparations for any meetups or holiday trips. Just don’t overwork them. They’re doing it for free. Now if only my skills as a project manager would work on my cats — that would certainly make for easier baths and trips to the vet.