Focus on Micro Skills to Improve Your Meetings

Meetings Micro Skills headline image, CC Thomas Bartherote (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kunfy/7233603984/)

Meetings are a stage upon which we get to demonstrate our competencies and leadership.  Meetings are important for shared communication, group work, and effecting cultural change.   And yet, meetings are almost universally hated.  When researching a guide on running meetings, almost every article either offered the same tired advice (as if using an agenda is a novel idea!), or challenged the reader to not schedule meetings in the first place.

What if I told you that people hate meetings because we’re doing them wrong? 

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Introvert’s Guide To Running Meetings

Introvert Guide Meetings, Creative Commons, Alan Levine, https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/14253932352/

Running a meeting can be a nerve-wracking experience. As an introvert, I’m usually the person listening and asking the gentle questions to integrate disparate ideas. This style works well for low-stakes meetings where I just one of the attendees.  When I’m running a meeting, I need to adopt a different strategy.  I’ve developed a few tips for myself that help me prepare for and be comfortable with running a meeting.

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4 Reasons My To-Do List Sucks and Yours Might Too

To-Do List Headline image. Creative Commons, photo by john.schultz (https://www.flickr.com/photos/29853404@N03/)

As a project manager, I find it difficult to balance my time between project tasks, project management tasks, functional tasks, and supervisory tasks.  Until recently, I thought a to-do list was a silver bullet for my lagging productivity.  Surely if I just write down all my tasks and check them off as I complete them, I’ll start getting everything done – right?

Not so much. After trying all kinds of different applications, sticky notes, and iPhone apps, I finally realized something – my to-do list sucks.  Obviously a list of things to do isn’t going to help – it’s just a list of things!  A to-do list is like a siren that sings a sweet song promising productivity, but crashes your ship.

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Use an event boundary to help you finish tasks

Headliner image event boundary. Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderferret/

Balancing a large list of tasks and goals is hard to do.  We think we’re good at multitasking, but scientific research tells us otherwise.  For project managers, managing even one project requires balancing goals, constraints, and tasks.  Add another project, and the mental effort required to prioritize and balance goals and tasks explodes!  Staying focused is incredibly difficult when balancing and prioritizing so many goals and tasks.  I’ve started using an event boundary as part of my daily planning, and my task completion rate and focus have drastically improved.  Here’s how you can use an event boundary to improve your focus and productivity.

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Project Manager – Stop asking “why did you do that,” ask this instead

Headliner photo, project manager. Photo by Alex Proimos, https://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/

As a project manager leading change and as a functional supervisor, I often find myself wanting to ask someone – “why did you do that?”  When I ask my 9 year old daughter this question, two things happen: she shrugs her shoulders, and I feel stupid.  If this question slips out accidentally at work, I get the adult version of a shoulder-shrug: the answer that starts with “I don’t know, I guess I was just…”  There are a lot of reasons why this isn’t a great question, and there are better questions for probing why someone “did that.”

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Easily Earn and Claim PMP PDU Credits For Free

PMP PDU CCRS

Recently, I successfully passed my PMP application audit and passed the PMP certification exam. (I wrote about those experiences, if you’d like to read some tips on studying and preparing, or some advice on filling out the PMP application and successfully pass an audit.)  After passing the exam, my first question of course was – what’s up with these PMP PDU credits, how do I earn them, and how do I report them?

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Lessons Learned – Passing a PMP Application Audit

PMP application featured image

Having recently passed the PMP certification, I thought I’d offer a Lessons Learned based on my experience. I passed the PMP certification exam the first time (with Above Target in all domains), but before I was able to sit for the exam, my PMP application was audited and I failed my PMP application audit twice.  I learned a lot about the audit process, including what specifically the audit team appears to be looking for and how to successfully appeal an audit decision. This article will focus on tips based on that experience; if you’d like to read tips on studying and preparing for the PMP exam itself, check out my previous article.

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Lessons Learned – Passing the PMP Exam

PMP Exam featured image

Having recently passed the PMP exam, I thought I’d offer a Lessons Learned based on my experience. I passed the PMP certification exam the first time (with Above Target in all domains), but before I was able to sit for the exam, my application was audited and I failed my application audit twice. Based on this experience, I have some tips to pass along that might help you successfully pass your certification exam.  I also have some tips on filling out the PMP application based on my failing an audit (twice!) – if you’d like tips on completing your PMP application, read this article too.

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