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Project Managers Must Stay Calm

Julie Lord

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Project management training provides you with great communication, organisation and leadership skills, as well as a great understanding of a project management framework and standard methodologies. However, project management training cannot provide you with the ability to cope with stress, and let's be honest, it's a skill you need because project management can be incredibly stressful. Stress can have a really horrific impact on your work life and personal life, which can mean you don't do your job as well as you could, and you may find your physical and mental health suffers as well.

In this job role, you can't just take away the stress, but you can change the way you deal with that stress.

Change Your Approach

If you approach everything with a negative attitude, not only will you be prone to stress, but you'll also bring a downer on everyone you work with - which does not make you the guy or gal people want to work hard for. You don't have to be all unicorns and rainbows every day, but as a project manager you do need to be positive. When things go wrong you need to see the benefits in what you can learn from mistakes made, and see the opportunities that come from everything and anything that goes wrong. You also need to see the positives in everyone you work with too. Recognise your weaknesses, and embrace your strengths and do the same with your team. As the leader of your team, you are the environment you work in - so be positive and you will reap the rewards.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness means being in the present moment all the time, and letting go of any negativities you are holding onto. Practise yoga, meditation and even EFT if that works for you - whatever it takes for you to chill out and let go of all that knotted physical and mental tension bringing you down. Just remember to practise your mindfulness every day, so you're regularly letting go of that stress.

Treat Yourself

Project management training, deadlines, client meetings, reports - these events fill your day to day life, as should the occasional treat. You might be an absolute machine and work super hard all the time, but everyone needs a break from time to time. Make time for regular ‘little treats’ like massages, spa evenings and the odd weekend away. Although it's good to book your big annual holiday at the beginning of the year so you have something to look forward to, you need little treats every month to keep you going, otherwise in January, your August trip will just seem too far away to be excited about.

Keep On Moving

Every doctor, counsellor and mental health expert will tell you that exercise is fantastic for stress relief. It doesn't matter how jam packed your day is, you can make time for exercise; you just need to stop making excuses. Maybe project management courses should combine some physical workout rather than just concentrate on PM processes and methods? But if there is nobody telling you to exercise you will have to just do it yourself. Get up half an hour earlier and do 30 minutes of yoga, or pop to the gym on the way to work. Maybe incorporate a walk into your lunch break, or vow to do an hour on the treadmill before dinner. Exercise enables our brains to release serotonin, the body's natural high - your own personal natural antidote to stress.

Bring The Fun To Work

Why not bring a little fun into the way you work, and do something a bit random with your team. This is something that project management training courses are very unlikely to teach you but taking a light-hearted approach to managing projects, even if only occasionally, is a great stress-reliever. Have a ten minute ‘random dance’ before your morning meeting, have a brainstorm in the park, or do a mini stand up comedy show at lunch. Bringing a bit of fun to work will not only create a fun work environment, but it will help you bond with your team and give them a little brain break between working hard.


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