3 Project Management Skills to Benefit Even the Most Unorganized People

3 Project Management Skills to Benefit Even the Most Unorganized People

I am a Very Organized Person™. Or at least, that’s the reputation I’ve cultivated among my friends and family over years of being annoyingly on time. It’s what has made me a really great project manager and, before that, an excellent TV producer.

For all the jokes I endure about being a Very Organized Person™, I’m convinced everyone could benefit from these organizational skills in their day-to-day lives.

Learn from me, Non-Organized People. You could be a VOP™, too.

Why Bother with Organization, Anyway?

Disorganization isn’t a victimless crime.

In the office, your inability to stay on track can result in projects falling behind or not getting done at all. In your personal life, it means frustrated friends who sit waiting while you show up 15 minutes late to dinner because you couldn’t find your car keys.

In both cases, you need to look at organization as a benefit to your life and others’.

A small amount of time invested in personal organization will give you fewer things to stress out about. Reduced anxiety? ✅ Win.

I know it feels counterintuitive, but organization also boosts creativity. Without worrying about baseline parameters like due dates and content length, you can focus on more important things, like the actual creative content!

Reduced anxiety again? ✅ Double win.

It feels like some people were just born with a clipboard in hand, but I promise, even the most organized people have to work to make their lives run smoothly. And we do it because it’s worth it. 

We're not all born with project management skills -- but this kid was.

We’re not all born with project management skills — but this kid was.

3 Project Management Skills for Everyone

Not to sound overly dramatic, but project management is less a job and more a way of life. What I mean is that it’s just really difficult for project managers to turn off the primary aspects of our jobs when we leave the office — which, I’d argue, isn’t such a bad thing.

Here are the three project management skills I’d encourage even the most Non-Organized People to try out.

1. Prioritization

It’s so easy to look at your to-do list and just think, “Nope.” Too much to do, not enough time. It’s overwhelming!

Project managers look at massive amounts of data — reports, content, or simply emails and texts — and decide what’s most useful in the moment.

There’s a limit to the amount of information your brain can handle at once. Prioritization is the thing that will keep you sane as you get notifications from your phone and your smartwatch and your computer and your coworkers and your kids. . . .

How to Prioritize like a PM

Make a list of the three to five things you want to get done today. Do the thing you dread most first.

At 9 Clouds, we call this “eating your frogs.” Your day can only get better if you start out by eating a frog, right?

2. Communication

To outsiders, it can look like project managers don’t really do anything. We spend 70% of our day communicating — with clients, with coworkers, with other vendors. We’re responsible for explaining our strategic vision and creative feedback.

Through all this conversation, we’re doing what I believe is the most important job of a project manager: building relationships. Project managers build trust and make it easier for everyone else to do their jobs.

This project management skill doesn’t end with the workday, though. Ask any therapist, and they’ll tell you good communication is the foundation of any successful relationship.

How to Communicate like a PM

Be really clear about your expectations, whether that means wanting your husband to wash the dishes if you cook dinner or wanting a specific result from your coworkers.

3. Negotiation

Project managers balance resources, which inevitably leads to compromise on budget or scope. It’s important that every PM can negotiate skillfully with clients and creatives.

Same with real life. You might not want to admit it, but you’ve 100% thought this ⬇ about a social obligation:

Friends and family negotiate, too. Maybe you don’t love sushi, but you’d go because your best friend does — and you know she’d go to a movie you love.

How to Negotiate like a PM

Figure out what everyone wants out of a situation, so you can find the best outcome early.

When people keep their goals secret, they feel like they have leverage in the negotiation — but the goals that you and your counterpart share are probably pretty close. Just ask questions, and get all the information out in the open.

Put Those Project Management Skills to Work

Like I said, project management isn’t just something I do for work; it’s basically one of my best life skills. You can use these skills for anything: moving, planning life events (weddings, anyone?!), parenting, coaching your co-ed sand volleyball team.

Very Organized People™ take a structured look at life’s big events, allowing us to handle things with less stress. Who wouldn’t want that?

9 Clouds has a solid team of Very Organized People™ (aka project managers) who work with some Semi-Organized People (our awesome creatives). Subscribe to our blog to hear how we work together to stay productive and innovative!