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My sponsor said, “There’s another project that I’m just waiting for to hear about.”
I silently groaned. I was already managing several projects, and although I could probably handle the additional work, the mental overload of trying to manage so many things was becoming too much.
Let’s not forget to go back in time.
Case study: My story
My first job as a project manager was at an insurance company. I was part of a team that was responsible for the website upgrade.
It was quite a while back, but I remember that I had one thing to do. It was the perfect foundation in how I did my job. I had a mentor, a supportive manager, and a great team around. Jo was the IT team leader whose department was building it.
She was so focused that her plans were flawless. I don’t recall any dramas about people not understanding what they were supposed do or missing the dates.
Except for one day when a key contractor failed to show up because his home was infested by woodworm, he had to evacuate his family and concentrate on that.
But that’s a whole different story.
It is important to note that I had a very clear brief when I began managing projects.
Later, I moved to the global headquarters and took on a more operational job that involved a variety of smaller projects. This job was also very manageable in terms of the work. It was difficult to work in French for most of the day.
My boss was supportive and gave me control over my workload. I also had the freedom to accept new tasks as they came up without feeling compelled to add to my To Do List.
This is how I remember it.
I can also recall crying when I called a prospective landlady. Finding a place to live was difficult than I expected, and it was stressful to be interviewed in a foreign language.
But that’s a whole different story.
My new employer in the UK hired me to help with the rollout of an IT system. It was rolled out to 35 locations. This took us a few years from my memory.
Although we were managing multiple installations at once, it didn’t feel overwhelming because there was only one goal: get this software everywhere.
It’s easier to do the same thing over and again. Although every area is unique, there are enough commonalities to make it feel less like you’re trying to switch topics all the time.
Later, as the rollout became more effective, I took on additional projects like software enhancements and interfacing software with other apps. Everything felt relevant and connected.
My return from maternity leave was when the brain-ripping feeling began (Round 1). I realized that I needed to juggle multiple projects in a completely different way.
I was no longer responsible for leading related groups of projects. Sometimes, my stakeholders were from completely different groups. My job included:
Line management for project managers
While not being officially in that role, I try to instill a sense PMO and process in others.
Project management for different sponsors and project managers supporting their own projects
To make sense of the existing applications and to rationalize it.
Liaising with suppliers to obtain ongoing contracts that had nothing to do my projects.
Needless to mention, I had a lot of thoughts.
I know that I’m not the only one. As you become more confident in managing projects, your role changes to whatever the bus brings.