Life Management through Project Management Techniques


By Dr. Ashutosh Karnatak

Life is the duration between time of birth and death. However the active life of an adult is taken to be from 30 to 65 years of age (around 35 years). This is the duration when the performance of the individual is rated in terms of his/her active life. In a practical sense, i.e. keeping in view the materialistic society – a successful life is benchmarked as under:

  1. Good professional life
  2. Sound financial position
  3. Good and quality education for children
  4. Proper settling of children (job/career etc)
  5. Sound health of both the partners
  6. And last but not least, the need as per Maslow Theory of Needs Social Recognition.

Ideally, all the above four have equal weightage. It may vary from individual to individual, but this variation is normally not that much.  Absolute 100 percent is achievable by the age of 65 years. It is a fact that only certain fortunate persons achieve satisfaction in the range of 80 to 100 percent. Most people repent on the actions taken during their life’s sojourn, and on introspection they find that some of their decisions were not correct. But nothing could be done to undo these wrong decisions.
 
Keeping the anticipated fallouts in life, let us take some corrective steps – wherever, we are now in the journey of life.

Let’s assume Life is a Project. Now, we need to manage this project (life) within a defined time, cost and quality.

Some techniques for managing the projects are as under:

  1. Identification of Project Manager and his team
  2. Time and cost are two important parameters which need to be monitored regularly
  3. Weekly reviews of progress by working level personnel and identification of constraints
  4. Monthly reviews at management level
  5. Generation of various reports for providing to the  management

If the techniques are translated in terms of life – it will look like as under:

1.Identification of Project Manager and his team

In this case You are the Project Manager, and your family members including your spouse and children are the core members. Other family members also form part of your team.

The main responsibility of managing the life project is on you as you are primarily responsible for any act -Good or Bad. Thus it is necessary to be prepared for the job. The first requirement for the job is to inculcate the qualities of a Project Manager.

Former President of India, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam has said:

“It is essential for a project manager to learn to live with uncertainties and ambiguities. A quotation form General George Patton was given as a counterpoint to this myth - that a good plan violently executed right now, is far better than a perfect executed plan. In my opinion, a project leader should always work with proven technology in most of the systems as far as possible, and experiment only from multiple resources. We learned the hard way that the biggest problem of project management is to achieve a regular and efficient interfacing between the different individuals and work centers. Hard work can be set at naught in the absence of proper Coordination.”

From the above, it is clear that the Project Manager has to work with uncertainties and ambiguities. Apart from this he should be ego-less. It is essential to ensure proper coordination between team members i.e. with spouse, children and other relations. Any deviation may lead to imbalance.

Generally, in the context of life, Ego plays a vital role and lot of the infighting is caused by this factor alone. If you understand the affect of the ego – life can be managed in a better way. In fact to succeed, Ego needs to be kept at its lowest ebb – either at home or at office.

So begin with the first step. Assume that Life is a Project. Consider yourself as Project Manager and other family members as members of your team.

2. Time and Cost -

These are two important parameters which need to be monitored regularly. In the project of Life, the section on time is not fixed. It is in the hands of the Almighty, and we can not control that. The only area within our control is how best we can perform and utilize the time for fruitful purposes. In order to utilize time effectively – short and long term plans for our life can be drawn out. For example a person of 40 years of age can have the following Goals as per time frame:

Long-Term: I would have my own house by 2015.
Short-Term: By the end of the year 2013, I would have another inspirational book published.
Mini-Term: This month, I would achieve weight reduction by 3 Kg.

The cost part of life is one of the most crucial issues. In fact every person in the world works for financial security in the shortest possible time. In the process some may even choose unethical means. Nevertheless – this area needs special attention by the project leader i.e. Head of the Family. It becomes the duty of the leader to have sufficient funds at the time of need.

Let’s take an example. You have a long-term target to have a house by 2010. But the problem is finances. You require funds to the order of 40 lakh rupees but have only 10 lakhs at the moment. The balance amount needs to be arranged. You should identify different sources from which the requirement can be met so that you can achieve the target on time. Missing the target will lead to failure.

However you must remember that the decision might affect the lives of the whole family. The fact is that you intend to take a loan to purchase a house, and this needs to be refunded. Repayments could affect expenditure on luxuries that the family normally enjoys. Hence, before finalizing the same, it is necessary to discuss it with the project team – which in this case comprises your family members. Identify the critical issues being faced by the family, like children’s education, marriage of daughter; construction of the house etc. These need to be addressed till a permanent solution is got.

Higher education of your child is yet another issue that could need advance planning. Sit quietly with your spouse and review your financial position. Plan how you intend to face the situation and plan for the entire period of education, say 4 years. Take action according to the savings you have. Of course, nowadays there are banks ready to disperse education loans. Find out more on this and see how you can arrange for this if required.
 
Proper Planning will save guard you at crucial times, because all pre-emptive has been taken and you are placed in a comfortable position. Life is like a game of chess, where it is required to think at least two steps ahead before taking any action.

When you work as a project team leader in your life, you need to develop a complex view of the success criteria. There are always multiple, often conflicting, expectations from family members.

The process of arriving at the success criteria within a team is an intricate and skilled one because there are a too many minute details to be taken care off, although on the surface the team seems to be simply working to achieve the project’s goal.

3.Follow Up and Review

We generally tend to discuss with our spouse only about a specific job we have taken up. We seldom discuss the follow up action or its logical conclusion/completion of that job. It is equally important to give a helping hand at chores at home as that of official jobs. Hence attention should be paid while executing these domestic commitments.
 
Never give up till the job is completed. Make a list of all the jobs at home and go for them till they are completed. The general tendency is to procrastinate over the issues related to the home, often this can lead to avoidable losses. For Example: Say your NSC (National Saving Certificate) matures on a particular date, and you are not able to encash it on time. By this delay you suffer loss of interest over the amount due.

It is necessary to review the progress of different issues, not just big projects. This helps to identify the areas of concern, and corrective action can be taken on time. Let us construct a scene where a husband and wife review the activities of the month.

Husband: How is Raman (Son) doing in his studies nowadays?
Wife: Not too good. Since your priority is office work and you have no
time with him, he is getting out of hand.

Husband: Why? What happened?
Wife: Look at his marks in English, they are so low.

Husband: So what can we do? I am helpless as there is lot of work in the at office. Why don’t we hire an English tutor for Raman.
Wife: Alright. But you must arrange the tutor within a week. I don’t want him to continue getting such low marks.

The next day the husband looks for a tutor and the tuition classes start within a week. One month later the father, mother and son are sitting in a room and reviewing the effects of the tuition classes.

Father: Raman how are the tuitions. Do you find them useful?
Son: Yes father. Now I can understand the lessons better. My tutor is helping me to apprehend and improve in the areas I found myself weak earlier.
 
Father to his wife: What do you think? Is there an improvement
now? (Trying to get affirmation)
Wife: Certainly he has improved. He scored better in the monthly test and he has also started taking interest in studies.

Other discussions can be on marriage of daughter, annual savings targets, reduction of weight etc. The scene and the circumstance may change from family to family. But whatever the issue, it needs to be discussed and it is essential that the project manager takes timely corrective action in a structured way.

Open a register for family issues. Log it every day and after completion of the work strike the completed work out. But continue to review incomplete work with other family members every month. After the end of a financial year, prepare a report (balance sheet) of achievements (assets) and pending work, along with a list showing the financial loans (liability) Analyze the reason for the same, and take appropriate action on it. It would not only help you but also give guidance to children to manage their life in Project Management Style.

The balance sheet of life has two aspects. The financial implications, and the emotional content, like Happiness and Sorrow. The chart would look as under:

 Financial

Sl No

Assets

Liability

1

 

 

2

 

 

3

 

 

4

 

 

5

 

 

Emotional

Sl No

Assets (Happiness)

Liability (Sorrows)

1

 

 

2

 

 

3

 

 

Financial Net Profit or Loss = Financial Assets - Financial Liability

Emotional Net Profit or Loss = Emotional Assets - Emotional Liability

Financial and emotional parameters are not comparable. The unit of rupees supports the financial part, whereas emotions have no defined unit. So, let us coin a new word for unit of emotion as “Eumees”.  It is up to an individual to fix a personal value on Rupees versus Eumees. However, it has been seen that even the world’s richest men chase Eumees despite having immense wealth. This only proves that it is important to have Positive Eumees, or more happiness above anything else.

Happiness is the positive state of mind, which would yield more Eumees. So maintain positive thinking to get more happiness, and your life would have more assets than liability in any form.

 

If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule
to read some poetry and listen to some music
at least once a week

- Charles Darwin


Join the Positivity Mission