Being more productive on projects

PM_Network201306Once again I was invited to participate in PMI’s publication PM Network, this time in their June 2013 issue. I contributed tips about how to be more productive on projects.

The article lists ten miscellaneous tips for project managers. One of them was mine, about resolving minor issues by clearing the air via telephone call rather than entering a lengthy email correspondence:

“Whenever I detect an undertone such as sarcasm or anger in an email, I never respond by email. I usually telephone the sender and ask him or her to clarify, which allows me to get a clearer understanding of his or her motives. We can resolve minor issues in passing, not having to explain them in lengthy emails.”

In my project management experience, I find it much more efficient to pick up the telephone and call someone when there is an issue to be resolved, a matter to be settled or something ambiguous to be clarified rather than firing off an email. By speaking to someone it is easier to discern their tone of voice to get a better understanding of the issue at hand. Often, it can be resolved quickly, and the result is one less issue to deal with in our project.

As for the other nine project productivity tips that were described in the article, such as taking a break or a walk during the workday, ensuring the right number of team members on a project and so on, I found most of them quite useful.

AgapanthusI do, however, question the one about keeping a photo of your pet near your workplace. According to the article, researchers at Hiroshima University found that looking at “cuddly critters and adorable babies” induces positive emotions and thus increases focus on a task. I don’t know. I don’t like animals and certainly don’t have any pets. I’m not particularly fond of cute babies. I hate clutter and like to keep my work area free of unnecessary pictures. I can’t relate to this tip.

But then, when I think about it, I’m happy when I see my agapanthus in bloom. Perhaps I should try looking at photos of my plants while I work to see if it increases my productivity?

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