Project management isn’t just for building skyscrapers and software. You can use the project approach for self-improvement and education.
Don’t let the summer go by without learning something new. In this article, I’ll cover four projects you can take on to make your life better. Choose one to get started. The sense of accomplishment will give you added energy for the rest of the year. I’m working on new habits to drink more water and write more.
- Start a new habit
- Act on a creative project
- Read an educational book
- Improve your technical skills
Project 1: Start a new habit for permanent productivity improvement
According to new research reported by James Clear, it takes about two months to install a new habit. Given that time commitment, you must choose your habit carefully. I recommend focusing on the area where you have the greatest difficulties in life.
It’s also important to start small for the habit to work. If your habit is to “write more,” I suggest re-writing that habit to “write 100 words a day on my project.” Starting small makes it easy to get started. One health habit I started a few months ago relates to health: drink 8 glasses of water per day.
- Action: choose one habit to work on over the next 60 days.
- Resource: Check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Project 2: Act on a creative project for one weekend day
Do you have a novel in you? What about a short story or a drawing? Don’t take those ideas with you to the graveyard. The quiet of summer is an excellent time to make headway on your Someday list. For me, the project is creative writing. For you, it might be painting.
Working on a creative or artistic project causes you to look at the world in a new way. Your productivity will benefit because you will have a broader perspective. If you have to, start by writing notes for your idea on your Friday lunch hour. When Saturday rolls around, you will already have your idea sitting in outline form.
- Action: choose one creative project to work on next weekend
- Resource: Check out Reddit writing prompts for inspiration.
Project 3: Read an educational book for 10 minutes every morning
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor
Are you a morning person?
For years and years, I was not especially when I was a student. Over the past year, I’ve discovered the merits of waking up early. It’s a great way to set the tone for the day. To improve productivity, make your morning into a project.
Choose one book for your self-development and study it each morning for at least 10 minutes. This project is most effective if you choose a book that addresses a problem you have. For example, read “Getting Things Done” by David Allen if you are facing time management difficulties.
By reading an educational book for at least ten minutes each morning, your productivity will benefit. You will have a broader perspective and will acquire additional skills over time. By reading for 10 minutes in the morning, you will never miss a day without learning something useful. If the book has exercises for you to complete, do those as well! Doing the exercises and activities from business books
- Action: buy one educational, non-fiction book that addresses a challenge you face.
- Resource: For ideas, check out The Most Recommended Books by Self Made Millionaires right here on Pick The Brain
Project 4: Improve your technical skills
Improving your technical skills is an underrated way to improve productivity. Once upon a time, I would spend over an hour at the office performing a repetitive activity in Microsoft Excel. By taking an Excel course, I learned techniques to reduce that process to ten minutes.
You might think to yourself that you’re not comfortable learning technology or that it is simply too hard. I understand that concern. Fortunately, you are blessed with incredible training resources. Did you know that you can find video based training courses from Lynda.com? You can even get free training on Youtube- do a search for “Photoshop tutorial” and you’ll find plenty of examples.
- Action: choose one technical skill to improve (or learn from scratch) over the summer.
- Resource: Review the online courses offered by Lynda.com or Udemy.com for inspiration for ideas on what technical skills you can learn.
Bio. Bruce Harpham is the author of Project Management Hacks, a resource that provides strategies to improve your productivity. Bruce’s project experience includes cost reduction projects at a large bank and leadership roles in post-secondary education. Bruce’s interests include world travel, science fiction, and books.