After reading Getting Things Done by David Allen, I was excited to get to work. With clarity about my system and tools, I made better Next Steps and forced myself to confront the things I could do and what I needed to defer or delegate.
But on some items, I found myself running in circles. Things big enough that a Next Step would be the planning and thinking about what would make a good next step.
What I needed was project management. The ability to break down big, ambitious tasks with multiple parts into a series of next steps.
GTD falls short on material of how to handle project management. Where David Allen left off, Cesar Abeid picks us up. Reading Project Management For You is like unlocking some hidden bonus chapters of GTD.
I came across this book because I’m lucky enough to call Cesar my friend and colleague. Before our recent team meetup in Austin, Texas, I was making a point to learn more about my fellow teammates. Whenever you become a new Automattician, one of your first tasks is to make a p2 post introducing yourself. Cesar mentioned his book in his intro post, so I added it to my Kindle for one of my plane rides.
What a great decision! In addition to being the missing sibling to GTD, it was short enough to be read in a few hours on the plane and had some great stories that helped me get to know Cesar.
Cesar and I got to have some good talks about projects and productivity on that meetup. In particular I wanted to hear him speak more on the distinction between projects and operations he makes in the book.
For something to be a project, it has to have an end. You’ve made the thing, you completed the task, and it’s done. Ring the bell – ding! But operations are ongoing. Cesar’s example is that writing a book is a project, but marketing, promoting, and selling it is operations. It’s easy to make the mistake of trying to use project tools to improperly manage operations.
In my work of customer support, I’m in operations. There’s little chance of people not wanting help anytime soon. The chats and emails will keep coming in and we continue to find the best ways to answer them quickly and helpfully.
But Automatticians love projects. We obsess over chances to do a sprint of work once that will pay off multiple times in the future. To the point that sometimes we start to see projects where we should be thinking of how to optimize operations.
The appendix to Cesar’s book helps with this too! Using Agile concepts, you can shift most operations into successive projects. Getting his perspective and advice on this was invaluable for me in person. Unless you have that opportunity yourself, I recommend you check out the book as well as his podcast, PM for the Masses. Here’s an episode with an inteview of David Allen!
Project Management For You by Cesar Abeid, part of my 2016 Reading