Four Tips to Writing Better and Faster

A colleague asked me for some tips about writing. With hundreds of articles, blog posts, and 10 books, I know what works for me. I suspect some of these ideas will work for you, too. Tip 1:  Write every day. Write for 15 minutes every day. This practice exercises your writing muscles. For me, it’s a little different than all the email I write Tip 2: Think about the stories you want to tell in an article. Start with an interesting situation (before), in the form of a story. Show/tell about the transformation/change. Wrap up with a pointer back to the story. Consider some number of tips. Here are some examples from my blog: Three Tips for Product Owners, 4 Tips for Preparing for a Project or Program Manager Interview, Six Tips for Answering Project and Program Manager Interview Questions. If you can illustrate the tips with stories, that’s even better. I find I need to keep the number of tips to less than 9 (7 or fewer is even better) for people to read it. Contrast stories of two teams: one team did this. One team did that. Here’s why they both succeeded/failed/whatever. People love stories. If you include a story, they will identify with it and love your work. That’s because they can identify with the situation, regardless if they agree with you. You might not like my story approach. Think about what you like to read. What pulls you in? Write like that (not the same words, the same approach). Tip 3: Writing is not editing. For me, writing is about 3 parts: Gather the ideas. If you want to...

Podcast with Cesar Abeid Posted

Cesar Abeid interviewed me, Project Management for You with Johanna Rothman. We talked about my tools for project management, whether you are managing a project for yourself or managing projects for others. We talked about how to use timeboxes in the large and small, project charters, influence, servant leadership, a whole ton of topics. I hope you listen. Also, check out Cesar’s kickstarter campaign, Project Management for...

Agile Bootcamp Talk Posted on Slideshare

I posted my slides for my Agile 2014 talk, Agile Projects, Program & Portfolio Management: No Air Quotes Required on Slideshare. It’s a bootcamp talk, so the majority of the talk is making sure that people understand the basics about projects. Walk before you run. That part. However, you can take projects and “scale” them to programs. I wish people wouldn’t use that terminology. Program management isn’t exactly scaling. Program management is when the strategic endeavor  of the program encompases each of the projects underneath. If you have questions about the presentation, let me know. Happy to answer...

Job Search Tip: Timebox Everything

In Manage Your Job Search, I suggest the job hunter timebox everything. But what does that look like? Here are some examples. Imagine you want to research companies to put on your target list. I say you need 25 companies on your target list in the networking chapter. You roll your eyes and you are overwhelmed. You think to yourself, “How do I even start?” Timeboxing this activity is a great way to start to manage your overwhelm. You start this at 10am. You decide to spend 30 minutes on this task. That’s your first timebox. You set your alarm clock (on your phone, on your computer, somewhere) for 30 minutes. You start to research companies. You get involved. You take notes. All of a sudden, rinngg! Your alarm clock goes off! Your 30-minute timebox is up. By definition, this task is over. You are done, for now. You breathe a sigh of relief. Let’s review what this timebox looks like: You started at 10am, you finished at 10:30am. You decided which ToDo to select, your task. Here, it was researching target companies. You decided how long your timebox would be. Here, it was 30 minutes. In Manage Your Job Search, I’m a big fan of work that takes you under two hours to complete. I recommend you timebox your work to less than two hours. If you don’t know how to start something, start with a timebox of 10 minutes, so you start and don’t make yourself nutso. See what a timebox looks like? You complete the work in a defined period of time. You define that period...

Job Search Trap: Too Much to Do

Today’s job search trap is something we can all identify with: biting off a big chunk of work and not getting it to done fast enough. I suspect we have all been there and done that! How do you avoid this particular trap? I like to assess each of my tasks on my board and ask, “Do any of these look as if they will be more than two hours long?” Two hours is not a lot of time. Two hours is long enough for me to make progress on something and get it to done. It’s also long enough that I’m likely to complete it. And that’s the key. You know what the problems are in a job search: you have interruptions, such as phone calls; your family needs you to drive them or do laundry or something else; you want a perfect resume. The list goes on and on. Instead, think of ways to make your tasks smaller. Here are some approaches: What’s the first thing you do? Is this a series of tasks, where you have glommed things together? For example, “Write resume” is really at least three tasks: Draft resume, ask several people to review it, send it out for review. You might even decide that “Draft resume” is “Timebox draft resume to 60 minutes.” How can you make your tasks independent? Are you researching a job fair? Or researching companies? Look at the job fair and decide if you want to go. That’s the first decision. If you do, that’s the trigger event for all the other research for the job fair. Same thing...