By Day, I am Project Manager Man. Beware my Gantt Chart!

Kean Coffee: The Turkish, A Muffin, and A MacBook.

Over the past three years, I’ve transformed from a database administrator and web developer into a project manager. I wish I could say instead that I’ve changed into a glowing green mutant who can spurt radioactive mucous, but no, I drew straws and got “project manager.” Like many comic book mutants, this transformation has less to do with choice, and more to do with an unplanned, life-changing encounter with a mess. In my case, the mess was a swamp of incomplete IT projects.

I don’t think I’m an exemplary project manager, but I do think that if you venture into the swamp that was my division’s IT projects, you’ll find that sizeable swaths are drained and a handful of structurally sound and completed projects stand in the clearing.

I’ve noticed that my project management skills have started to spill over into other aspects of my life. Our family grocery list is saved as a Google Doc so we don’t have to rewrite it every week, and it’s separated into sections: produce, dairy, frozen, dry goods, etc., because I found that we are less likely to miss items, and we don’t waste as much time running back and forth across the store. We can split the shopping list into sections and distribute these to family members. As I write about this efficiency I’ve invoked (on a laptop that can barely find a home on my messy desk), I’m kind of freaked out. I’m not an inherently organized person.

One of my primary roles as a project manager is that of troubleshooter. If a project is stalled, I go in and find out what’s holding it up, and then strive to resolve the issue. So the next personal problem to receive my professional scrutiny will be my writing life. The problem: I have created a portfolio of writing projects and am not completing them. I plan to examine my creative life over the next couple of weeks. As a project manager, I may not be able to shoot glowing green goo at my enemies, but I can use my powers to get projects moving. And creative writing can’t be that different from software development, right?

Can our hero increase his word count into the hundreds per day? Will he submit another story for publication before he dies of old age? Will he finish the critiques he has promised his friends? STAY TUNED for the next, er, thrilling installment of Project Management for Creative People!!!

Seriously, though, I have planned a series of posts that apply project management principles and tools to creative projects. I will be the guinea pig, and hopefully you’ll witness some progress.

On that note, this was a day of hanging out with family and Elissa, not exercising, and writing a few hundred words towards a zombie erotica flash fiction piece (while drinking the coffee pictured above). I even accumulated enough exhaustion to nap today, and I never nap. This means I’ll be ready to take on the new week, right?

4 Comments

  1. Rich

    I never thought I would see ‘zombie’ and ‘erotica’ in the same sentence. If anyone can pull that off, I’m betting on you John.

  2. I, too, have noticed the Gantt chart warping my worldview in amusing ways. I think it’ll actually come in handy next time I sit down to work on a novel.

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