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Webinar Recap: How Should a Project Manager Organize their Workday and Where does MS Project Fit into this?

Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Nenad Trajkovski’s session, How Should a Project Manager Organize their Workday Every Day and Where does MS Project Fit into this?, being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the live recording of this webinar at your convenience.

Kyle: Hello and welcome to today’s MPUG webinar, How Should a Project Manager Organize their Workday Every Day and Where Does Microsoft Project Fit Into This? My name is Kyle and I’ll be the moderator today. Today’s session is eligible for three quarters of a PMI PDU in the strategic category. The activity code for claiming that with PMI is on the screen now. Like all MPUG webinars, a recording this session will be posted to mpug.com shortly after the live presentation ends. And all MPUG members can watch the recordings at any time and still be eligible to earn the PDU credit.

Kyle: All the sessions you watch on demand can be submitted to your webinar history and the live ones you attend are automatically submitted. Within your history, you can print or download your transcript and certificates of completion including the one for today. You can access that by logging into mpug.com, click my account and then click on the transcript link.

Kyle: If you have any questions during today’s presentation, please send those over at any time using the chat question box on the go to webinar control panel. We do plan to answer those questions at the end of the session today.

Kyle: All right and we’ll go ahead and get started. We’re very happy to welcome back Nenad Trajkovski today. He has extensive experience in working with business processes people and knowledge and information technology and financial accounting activities. Currently, he works as a consultant for the implementation of business systems and as a project manager. He is also a trainer on project management and risk management in Microsoft’s Innovation Center.

Kyle: He has been declared a top speaker for multiple conferences that he’s participated in. Finally, he’s a certified accountant, PMI, PMP and RMP, a Microsoft Certified Professional and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. So with that said, I’d like to welcome you back Nenad. At this time, I’ll hand it over to you to get started with today’s presentation.

Nenad: Hello, everyone. Welcome to this course. In this presentation, I will show you… I will say nothing new, but something which we almost forgot at daily basis. How should we as project managers organize our workday? And according to that, how are we going to use properly our tools to get the most beneficial results from our work? Now, I will show you something which happened in my life, let’s say 12 years ago, because my kid will have 18 tomorrow.

Nenad: He asked me when he was six years old, “Daddy, can you explain me what is your job?” I answered him, “I’m a project manager.” And he was some kind stuck. And he asked me, “But what are you really doing? What does it mean to be a project manager? What are you managing? What are you doing?” I found myself in very odd situation. I couldn’t give him a proper answer which he would understand.

Nenad: But on the other hand, he asked me another question, which was much easier to answer and that question was not what am I as a project manager, but what am I doing each and every day during the whole working day? And then I told him that I’m making calls, that I’m answering emails, that I’m speaking to my customers, to my bosses. That I’m making reports and I show showed him some reports et cetera, et cetera. It is much easier for someone who is not familiar with project management at all to explain what are we doing then what we are as a project managers.

Nenad: When I say that, I mean, are you familiar with the slide? How many of you have email, outbox or Gmail whatever you are using, that you have unanswered or unread 300 emails, that you have a lot of emails which are too old to answer or they came to your mailbox few days or few weeks ago and you have them on your to-do-list, but you don’t have time because you have so much work to do. That you have at least 10 calls unanswered calls that you have 46 or 50 messages which are unanswered. That you have your notebook, paper notebook, in which you are writing down what you should do but you always have something to do more and more and more and more.

Nenad: Basically, in our everyday work, we are having a problem with one and one thing only. It is time. We have much more work which should be done. Then we have time. We have eight hours, let’s say 10 hours but we have much more work and that work cannot fit in our working time. Basically, how should we organize those things that they could and they can fit in our time box?

Nenad: First of all, when we are doing time planning, it always comes down to reducing desires to realistic possibilities. One thing is what you think that you are going to finish in one working day, what you promise to someone that it’s going to be finished and what actually you can do.

Nenad: On the other hand, you always must have some contingency reserves. What are contingency reserves? Well contingency reserves is let’s say that you have three tasks on which you decide to work on one day and those three tasks are going to fill your whole time for that day. This is not good approach. Why? Because each and every day, something will disrupt you. You should… Contingency reserves are time reserves reserved for something which is unexpected, which cannot be planned.

Nenad: This can be urgent call from customer, urgent call from your boss, some bug in your application or some escalation or whatever. It can be. So, if you don’t have contingency reserves, then you can be 100% sure that those three tasks from my example, are not going to be finished in your one working day because something will always happen. At least in my experience, each and every day I have something which is urgent. It can be three calls which will take me 15 minutes or something else, but always, I always reserve some time for contingency for unexpected situation.

Nenad: And then we are coming to organizing and prioritizing. What are you going to do when? What are priorities? And I am going to explain priorities in much more detail in my next slides. Finally, delegating. You’re a project manager. As a project manager, you should be aware what should be done by yourself as a project manager and what should you delegate.

Nenad: Very often, project manager thinks if I will not do it, it will not be done properly. This is a general trap in which all pro… At least most of project managers falls and that is that we are thinking that everything should be done by us. This is not true. Until we are not starting to delegating, we are going to be a bottleneck of the project.

Nenad: Now, when we are going to prioritizing, each and every item in your personal life, in your business life, in your project falls in one of four categories. Each and every item is important or not important. When I said not important, I don’t mean that this is irrelevant, but it is not important, so no harm will be done if you don’t do that.

Nenad: On the other hand, if it is important or not, it can be urgent or not urgent. Each and every single task which should be done can be only in one of those four quadrants and that is it is urgent or not, it is important or not. Okay. Let’s go. First quadrant is urgent and important. This mean that these items in this quadrant is something on which you should react promptly. It can be some items which describe crisis, risk was triggered or something which should be completed today. Those are most important things. If you had many urgent and important things in your first quadrant. So, it means that you have a lot of them, then you can conclude only two things.

Nenad: Either the project is so big that you are so occupied that you cannot finish all those things and they are, they should be finished or your project is in crisis. It is too risky or it has many issues. Anyway, you should focus in your everyday life as a project manager on that first quadrant.

Nenad: Second quadrant is when something is important, but it is not so urgent. Let’s say, important and urgent can be if I didn’t prepare this presentation for you today and I know that I have that presentation at let’s say Croatian time, 6:00 PM and I didn’t prepare anything about this presentation and it is almost noon. That means that it is important and urgent because it should be done today.

Nenad: On the other hand, I know that I have another presentation which will be somewhere in June and this is very important for me because I should be prepared for you for that presentation. But it is not urgent because I have a lot of time. It should be done maybe soon, maybe not so soon, but don’t forget about these things because they can easily drop from quadrant two which is important and not urgent to important and urgent and then that means that you are going to be in trouble.

Nenad: Because if I wait with my next presentation to prepare it until the deadline, the final date, then I will be in trouble. Now, third quadrant means that they are urgent but not important. Okay. You have… I will give you an example. Three days before your party, you decide that it will be really nice to have 300 handmade party favors ready for your guests. Okay. Because it’s so close to a party date, this is urgent task. But however, if you do not complete this task, nothing significant will be happened.

Nenad: So let’s say that I know that I will have a guest, I will have a big party tomorrow, it is urgent and I should, let’s say, buy let’s say, Coke, a lot of Coke. I know that kids love to drink sweet drinks but if I don’t find Coke, I will buy Sprite, Fanta whatever. It is urgent, but if I don’t fulfill these things, so in that third quadrant, then here are items which are urgent, but if you do not fulfill them, nothing serious will be happened.

Nenad: Last but not least, not important and not urgent. Those things in that fourth quadrant are time eaters. If you are doing things which are not important, nor they’re urgent and you are working or do these two things, you have only two possibilities, reasons, sorry, not possibilities, reasons, why are you doing that.

Nenad: Either your project is so smooth, it is in so good shape, that you don’t have anything in important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important. You don’t have anything to do, but those things in fourth quadrant, which will never happens in real life or the second dangerous thing is that you are focused on wrong things in your project. So, you are basically wasting your time on things which are not important and not urgent and that usually, those things are what customer wants and it is called nice to have. It will be nice to have. It will be nice to have but I don’t have time for nice things. I have time only for important things which are either contracted or agreed on or whatever it can be.

Nenad: Now, priorities. When we are going to priorities, you as a project manager should be aware what are the items which means you are going to do it. What items are going to be delegated to some of your team members or to your project assistance. If it is large project you always will have some person who will help you and that is delegating. Then delay. Which things are things which must be done by you, but you can delay? So they are important but not urgent, so you can delay it. Or which are delete? Which are items to delete?

Nenad: That is here are all items which are not important and not urgent. Delete them. Don’t do them. Because if you will have them on your item list, to-do-list, you will fall in the problem that sooner or later, you are going to waste your time on those items which are once again not important and not urgent. Who cares if you will not do them? So if someone asked you that something is nice to have, just ignore that.

Nenad: Okay. Now, be aware that you can’t do everything. The worst thing which you can do as a project manager is to make commitment for which in upfront that you can’t finish on. Either desire time, desire time, a time when someone tells you that it should be finished or that person would like that item finished at some date, at some time. And you make a promise or commitment, but you know upfront that it cannot be finished. Or when you make a commitment by yourself to someone either outside of your team, to a customer, to a stakeholder or whoever it may be, or to your team that you are going to finish something and you are not 100% sure that you can finish it.

Nenad: Of course, what does it mean? 100% sure? 100% sure means that I can tell to Kyle, “Okay, I will make a webinar in June and I can prepare it for 100% as I know it now.” If I will get sick or if I will have a problem in my project and everyday life, then this is force major or act of God, however you call it, then it can be delayed or canceled. But as far as I know now, I can make commitment that I will finish something until that time.

Nenad: Now about tools, email. I hate emails. First of all, email is something which will distract you. When you are focused on something when you are working, let’s say, I’m now doing this presentation. My email client is shut down and my phone is out of my sight. Because if I will have it here, I will be in jeopardy that I will going to look at my email client and I will read my email. When you decide to do something, to finish something, whatever it can be, shut down your email client.

Nenad: Second of all, which emails are important urgent, not important, not urgent, etc, etc? I have rules in my Outlook. I’m using Microsoft Outlook. It means that with those roles, some mail are transferred directly to not important quadrant. Why? Because if I’m only in copy of this mail or if I’m not the first one tagged in this mail, so if it is not sending directly to me, it means that it can wait. I will not delete them, but I can read them later.

Nenad: If there is an attachment here on the email, then I should be aware that that email should take me longer than a regular email when someone tells me, “Okay, that was good.” Or, “Should we grab a cup of coffee or whatever?” If there is an attachment, then it means that something important should be… I should read something important or not. But I must reserve more time than in regular email. Is there a red flag?

Nenad: So if there is a red flag, this is obviously important to someone who send me those emails. But some people are used to send all those emails with red flag because they think that everyone will read those email first. But then after some time, you will find and you will recognize those people and then even if that mail has a red flag, you will ignore it or postpone it and then you will not be able to recognize which email from that person is really red flagged or important or not. But if it’s not your fault, it is a fault from that person who decided to flag a red flag, all emails which he or she is sending.

Nenad: Who is coming from? Is it coming from inside or outside? I have a most important stakeholders. They are flagged as most important in my mail sender. And then I have a rule, if the mail comes from those three or five or four or five most important stakeholders, it goes directly during my rule to very important mail folder. The way you get people used to it, that’s how we’re going to have it. If you answer on each and every mail, immediately, people who are sending their mails to you are very soon going to expect that you are going to reply their mail immediately.

Nenad: If you answer each and every mail in five minutes, those people will send you email, “What’s going on? You didn’t answer my mail and I send it 10 minutes ago.” You should be aware that email is not primary communication tool. I will show you in my demo, what is communication tool. Email is just notification and you should be aware that when you are working on something, that you should forget about your emails. I am reserving three times per day half an hour to answer all my emails. By the way, if something is very, very urgent or important, those people are going to call me because in my each and every email signature, I have my cell phone number and the calendar.

Nenad: What is calendar? I have in my calendar, I can now show it to you. I will open my email. Okay. I will show it to you that people who wants to meet me, they will see when am I available or not. Today, no one can have a meeting with me because I’m absent. I’m busy on Friday. What does it mean? Each and every Friday, I am reserving time for myself to finish some important thing which must be finished or to prepare myself to the next week.

Nenad: When I want to be left alone, I’m organizing something which is from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM and each and every Friday I am busy. So I have a time for myself to finish some important things. Okay. Now, let’s go back to the presentation. Okay. Now… Sorry. Sorry.

Nenad: Next thing, to-do-list. Depending on the quadrant. If you are going to have your to-do-list, I have my to-do application. I will show it to you in a few moments. Those things, I had which are… This is on creation of course, but which part of the project is this? This is a traffic police, this is organizational stuff, this is also organizational stuff. Is it priority high urgent or low and what status is this? Those hashtags are created by me.

Nenad: So, what is not urgent and not important, you will not find those things here. I will never write it down because they are not important than they’re time-eating. Now eaters. Now, after this presentation or webinar, do some exercise. If multitasking is a very bad thing. I will show you why. Let me show you this example.

Nenad: For example, take a piece of paper, not here, not now, but after this webinar and have your stopwatch here. Start with measuring the time and then write down, “Today is a beautiful sunny day.” And then you will find out how much time does it take to you to write down this simple sentence like, “Today is a beautiful sunny day.” Now, “Today is a beautiful sunny day,” has 26 letters. Now, take again stop watch and start it and with writing down on the piece of paper numbers. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 until 26. And then you will find out how much time did you spend on writing those numbers from one to 26.

Nenad: Finally, do multitasking and take a measure. Start your stopwatch and write one letter, one number. T, one; O, two; D, three; A, four; etc, etc. Write down on the first row one letter, on the second row one number. You will find out that it will take you much more time for that multitasking than if instead if you are writing first sentence all letters, “Today is a beautiful sunny day,” and then those numbers from one to 26. If you are doing your multitasking, you will see that it takes you much more time to write those things in parallel and more important, you will find yourself that you will make much more mistakes when you are writing down one letter one, one number. When you compare that with writing down first all letters or some meaningful sentence like, “Today’s a beautiful sunny day,” and then numbers.

Nenad: So multitasking is something which kill your efficiency and it’s prone to errors. Now, finally I will stop this presentation. I will show you all those things in my demo. We have a project. Okay. In Project for the Web, I created my project. Here, I have task one, task two, task three, task four, task five. I have assigned some person John, Mary, Ellen, Jim, Paula and all those people are members of my group which is blog Project for the Web because I’m writing once per week a blog about Microsoft Project and Project for the Web and I created the group, block Project for the Web and here are all my group members.

Nenad: This is Microsoft group. Okay. Now, if I want to see who is going to work on which task, I should open my project, Project for the Web here. I should open my project and if I have 10 of them I should choose the right one and I should let’s say here, at column, when it should be started or end when it should be finished. Okay. Now I see. This is light task.

Nenad: On the other hand, I can have for the same group planner Ellen’s task, okay, then I can have John’s task and I have bucket which to do, doing, done. Beside my project, I can use a planner and I usually do use a planner for the things which are outside of my project because all tasks are here written down in project for the project, but if something is let’s say operational, then I will use [inaudible 00:34:30] like to do, doing, done, etc, etc.

Nenad: So when you see that I have to jump first to my project application, then to my planner application, then to my email application, then I should use… Then I can use some other tools, I get confused now. What am I going to use or what am I using each and every day to make my life much more? I’m using Teams.

Nenad: For my Team, I have a Team, which is blog project for the web, in my group and now. I can here, see all the files. So I don’t have to jump in. I have nothing here. But I can every anything, what I need for my project here and I will have all my documentation in one single site or I can open those files in SharePoint. So I don’t have to jump from those. You can see here in my edge, that this is my project, this is task, this is SharePoint. I have to jump back and forth and so on.

Nenad: I’m using Teams. Okay. But anyway, you can ask yourself, but I need to see those project tasks, who is going to work. I need to communicate with for example, John, that he is late. Or he maybe he is not late, maybe he is finished with his task but he didn’t mark it as finished. I should talk to Ellen and ask her, is she going to be finished today with task two, etc, etc. I should talk to Ellen, to ask her about her tasks or John tasks. And I should jump from project to task planner etc, etc. Well, maybe you should, but I don’t think so. Here, I can add a tab.

Nenad: If I here add a tab, I can choose a project. Here, I can choose my project. Let’s save it. What’s here and now? I can see everything here. Everything like it is my… Like that I am in my project. So everything, what you can see here, it can be seen using Teams. What about planner? Same thing. Task by planner. Okay. Which tasks are you going? I’m going to use existing tasks. Save. Okay. Let’s see, what will I have here now. I will have Ella’s task and John task. Let me jump back here. You see, I have to ask John, if he is finished or he is late and why and I have to ask Mary if she is going to be finished today but I will not send them email.

Nenad: I will use here my project and I am going to use this conversation tab and when I open this conversation tab, I can directly here say, “John, you are supposed to finish task one yesterday. What’s going on?” “Now Ellen, are you going to finish task two today? If not, I understand because John didn’t finish his task on time, did you John?”

Nenad: Okay. So I can directly communicate with those Team members and I can avoid the worst thing from my life and that is sending those emails back and forth. On the other hand, if I want to see if I have all my calendars, as you can see here in my outlook, in my private, I have two calendars. I will show you now my personal calender which I’m using here. So if I going to my calendar and you can see my calendar, you can see here. That here is this presentation. I’ll show the project manager.

Nenad: I don’t have to use it here, I can use it by Teams so I can see here that I’m in presentation now. So anyway, anyhow, Teams is something which I use in my everyday life. I configure my Teams as I want them. I add here some other things like OneNote, like Excel, like Forms, like Lists… Sorry, like SharePoint, whatever.

Nenad: I can have all the things which matters to me in one single place. What happens when I come to my work when I turn on my computer? What I have? I have my Teams. They’re started up automatically and I see everything from here. I don’t have to jump from Outlook to Edge, from tab to tab. I just can here, close those things and I can see everything here. Now finally, I will show you this presentation to conclusion. If you don’t plan your time, you won’t be able to finish your work.

Nenad: Then, first of all, you should know your priorities, what is going to be work on first, second, third, etc and determine time when you’re replying to emails. I reply to emails from 9:00 AM to 9:30am, from 1:00 PM after lunch to let’s say 1:30. And finally, before I left my job. Don’t panic if you see many items in to-do-list. Don’t panic. Focus on the first quadrant and that is important and urgent. You are not irreplaceable.

Nenad: There is old saying here in Croatia, which says that the biggest field in the graveyard is weak irreplaceable people. Everyone can be replaced. We think that we are not replaceable. Delegate things. If you don’t delegate, you will have to do everything by your own and then that means that you are never be on time and you will make your customers or your bosses unhappy. If you haven’t gotten everything we planned, you make overestimation.

Nenad: You thought that you will finish much more than it is possible or someone interrupted you. That is only two things which can lead you to not finish all the things. And of course, last thing, organize yourself because if you don’t make those four quadrants, you will always be under the stress because everything in your state of mind will be important and urgent and there is no such thing that everything is important and urgent. By that say I thank you and I will leave it to Kyle. Kyle, do we have some questions?

Kyle: Nenad, yeah we do have a question. I know we’re right up to the endpoint here, folks. But I want to sneak this question in from Matthew. He mentioned that he has both Teams and Project Online but he doesn’t see the option to add the within the tabs on Teams where you can add in project or the other applications. Do you know what [inaudible 00:44:48] maybe?

Nenad: I really don’t know. He should ask his administrator because I will be… To be honest, this is default option. Project if you have Project Online or project for the web. That is the question.

Kyle: He mentioned project online specifically in the question.

Nenad: Project Online is for Project Server online. In that case, you will not be able to add the project here, because this is project for the vet, sorry. Project Online should be added here like a website. And you should put your, let’s say, here, if you see my project online and then you will have to pass your URL for the Project Online.

Nenad: This is stub up here is for the project for the bed. If you have Project Online, then you should add it as a website, put the tab name and put the link and then you will… But in that case, when you click on that, you are going to launch that website. Okay.

Kyle: Okay, great. That makes sense. Thank you. Yeah, that takes us right up to the end point here. Nenad, did you want to share your contact info or your blog if anyone is interested in something?

Nenad: Yeah. I can show. It is very easy. N like the first letter of my name. My family name is somehow complicated to to people outside of Croatia. It’s ntrajkovski.com. So you can see I started with my blog years and years ago. So it comes to from April 2011. It is now 10 years, no 11 years until I started. There are a lot of things. There’s major… Last few months, I’m writing primarily about Project for the Web. But before that I wrote a lot about projects in Project Online and Project Desktop application. It is basically ntrajkosvki.com. Here it is.

Kyle: Excellent. Thank you so much. Great. And then for those of you that are claiming the PDU credit for the session, I’ll get that info back on the screen for you now.

Nenad: Okay.

Kyle: All right. So use the code for today to claim the three quarters of the strategic PDU. And if you missed any of the session or would like to go back and review anything that was shared today, the recording will be available on mpug.com for just a couple hours and you’ll receive an email with the link to that. MPUG members have full access to our PDU eligible library of automated webinar recordings on mpug.com.

Kyle: I also chatted a link to our upcoming sessions in the chat box there. The next two on the schedule. Start with Dharmesh Patel joining us next week for Tips, Clicks and Tricks to Boosting the Effectiveness of Your MS Teams Meeting. So kind of digging in a little deeper into Microsoft Teams itself and conducting those meetings. And then we’ll begin our next three part course on May 5th, Project Performance Measurements. That’s eligible for three PDUs hosted by Fletcher Hearns and that’ll be the three consecutive May 5th, 12th and 19th at 12:00 PM Eastern Time.

Kyle: So we hope to see you there. Be sure to check that link and save your seat for those sessions that are open for registration now. That wraps it up for today. So thanks again Nenad and thank you to everyone that joined us live or is watching this on demand. We hope you have a great rest of your day and we’ll see you back next week for our next slide presentation. Thanks.

Nenad: Thank you. Bye.

 

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Written by Nenad Trajkovski

MVP – Project

Nenad Trajkovski was born in Zagreb in 1963. year. After completion of Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Nenad has started on the development and implementation of enterprise systems (ERP) in companies of various areas (banks, card houses, production companies, auto industry, wholesale businesses, oil companies, and others). He has extensive experience in working with business processes, people and knowledge in information technology and financial accounting activities.

Currently, Nenad works as a consultant for the implementation of business systems, and as Project Manager. He is trainer for Project Management and Risk Management in Microsoft Innovation Center in Varaždin. At WinDays08 conference he has been declared as the best speaker, and his session as the best one. He was among TOP 10 speakers in the Microsoft Sinergija 2009 and at the Microsoft Vzija 2009. Shared first place as the best lecturer at KulenDays 2009 and the PMI Forum 2009 in Zagreb. Regular speaker at the Microsoft Community. On WinDays10 conference Nenad was among the top three speakers; at the conference Microsoft Vision 9 in Skopje between the top 5 speakers as well as on Microsoft Synergy 11 which was held in Belgrade. Certified Accountant, PMP (Project Manager Professional), PMI – RMP (Risk Manager Professional), MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional), MCTS – Microsoft Project 2010 (Microsoft Certified Technical Professional).  and MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer).

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