Two Ways to Live Longer as a Project Manager

Stress is in everyone’s life. However, stress is not included in everyone’s job description unless you are a Project Manager. Deadlines must be met, expectations must be managed, resources must be allocated, budgets must be cut, and reports must be submitted…all by Noon.

The reality is that this type of relentless strain can take toll on a person and some research would indicate that this can even shorten a person’s lifespan. So, what are some things you can do to manage stress, remain effective and maybe even live a little longer as a Project Manager? Below are two suggestions that may help:

Will This Even Matter 3 Months From Now? – It is always a big deal the instant that something goes wrong on your project. Project stakeholders (from resources to sponsors) have a tendency to overreact. “The Sky is Falling!”, “ It Can’t Get Any Worse Than This!”, and  “The Very Existence of the Company Rests in the Balance!” are all common sentiments that arise when there’s a bump in the road.  The first thing to do is stop, take a breath and ask yourself…“Will this even matter 3 months from now?”  Then, let your actions be commensurate with your answer.

If it won’t even be a blip on someone’s radar in 3 months, then work through the issue methodically…but not furiously. We’ve all been through these bumps in the road time and again where you look back and realize that wasn’t that big of a deal after all.

If it will matter three months from now, then escalate accordingly and immediately.  Gradual escalations are a waste of time if you know what needs to be done out of the gate. Get the right people involved, make the necessary decisions and then eliminate the problem. The goal? For this to not even be a blip on someone’s radar three months from now.

Everything is Temporary – Have you ever quit your job? Do you remember the enormity of the weight of responsibility that was upon your shoulders the months, weeks and days before you turned in your notice? Then, two simple words changed everything…I QUIT. The weight was lifted, the sky seemed bluer and the birds chirped louder. 

We’re not saying you should quit your job or not take your responsibility seriously, but all things should be kept in perspective.  Opportunities and circumstances change overnight. A new job may open up, the company may go out of business, you may be laid off, or you may move into a new position. Give 110% to your current position, but remember that everything is temporary.

Everyone will agree that stress is a part of a Project Manager’s job and can definitely take its toll over the years. It’s also understood that a stressed out Project Manager can negatively impact the project team. So, do yourself a favor and ask if a particular bump in the road will even matter 3 months from now and remember that everything is temporary.

From your perspective, what are some of the things that contribute to increasing your stress level and what have you done to manage and mitigate this stress?


3 Responses to “Two Ways to Live Longer as a Project Manager”

  1. Jennifer

    This article hits home all the way! You have put some items into a visual perspective that others may not understand. The life of a PM. Live free, die hard.

    Great article.

    George Rapciewicz

  2. Ioan Hirsch says:

    As somebody who had a serious heart attack mainly due to stress in a PM position, I feel the subject is really close to my heart ( pun intended ). I wish solutions would be as simple as presented in the article …
    On the first “tip” : if the client, stakeholders, etc feel that a problem is the end of the world as we know it, and you think this is a minor issue, that even if untreated will not be remembered in 3 months, it is either that the client is badly uniformed or that your perception of reality is wrong. Either of these cases requires urgent root treatment, not just a wave of hand.
    On the second “tip” : running away from conflicts is a very short term solution, you’ll have the same in your new job and if you make quitting a permanent solution, shortly there won’t be a “next job”.
    I was hoping for more …

  3. Vytautas says:

    Here are quite a lot of negative presumptions related with PM. I guess, the reason is such experience. I would rather recommend to look at the cases through NLP perspective.

    THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES WAYS comparing to scenario’s and comments in the article:

    “stress is not included in everyone’s job description unless you are a Project Manager”;
    “Everything is Temporary”;
    “PM. Live free, die hard”;
    “…changed everything…I QUIT.”

    PM and NLP Synergy Institute – is ready to answer your questions and give you specific advices.
    http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=2858667&trk=anet_ug_hm

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