Thomas Juli – Project Management and Zen

Zen and the art of time management



Does time control you or do you control it? Is there never enough time and do some people have more of it than others? Will life be past before you have realised how to use time to balance your working life and your ‘free’ life.

At the recent PMI UK Chapter Synergy 2012 conference Dr Thomas Juli, laid out 10 pointers from the school of Zen that can help you achieve balance in your life and in your projects.

The first point was to do with identity. Knowing who you are is vital in a world where many feel a cog in a very large gearbox.  Having an identity in your private world will help you stand in your public world, in your project and in your organization. It will help you prioritise when managing time. Knowing who you are will help you know what is important to you. In addition, knowing what your strengths are and accepting yourself will give you the confidence to survive in a world (and potentially a project) full of conflict.

His second point was about having vision. This is not about project objectives but the vision that provides the real underlying motivation for what you are doing. He challenged his audience by asking if they had an MVP? M for motivation – do you know why this is being done? V for vision – do you know what the ideal solution will look like? P for project – do you know how the vision will be delivered? He encouraged the use of the 5 ‘whys?’ Asking the question ‘why’ until the answer is revealed. Understanding this will again help with prioritising and managing time effectively.

His third point concerned simplicity. As a key Zen principle, it is important not to make things too ‘simple’ but also not to make them over complex. Try explaining the vision, the project and the task in ways that an ‘outsider’ can grasp. Managing time is integral with understanding what is to achieved.

An important fourth point was the important of having a timeline or a plan. The wise man sees the mountain he wants to climb but knows he needs a pathway and provisions to get to the top. The wise man also knows that most deaths on the mountain occur on the way down and needs to plan the way back as well. Time is relative and must be used wisely. Plan in personal time, team time, review time or it will not happen. Managing time is about managing all aspects of life.

He also covered elements that can help in managing time such as overcoming angst, hierarchy versus individualism and motivation. These principles can underpin behavior and change practice for the better and ultimately lead to more successful projects, better team work and happier individuals.

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