by Francesca Miglietta
In the following few lines, i'm not going to give you any tips for improving your skills as a PM or for better managing your work. I'm sure the other contributors have far better recommendations to offer than I do. I'd just like to encourage you to consider one thing.
Have you ever thought of our job as the plot of a videogame in which you are the main character? Think about it: you grapple with different choices every day, leading you down different paths; you interact with countless characters–enemies and allies, alike–moving through several story arcs, each of them entailing a different mission to be accomplished, unexpected obstacles to be overcome, and numerous challenges to be faced. Sometimes, you even need to travel in time!
Come to think of it, I do want to give you one piece of advice: when you feel too stressed out or overwhelmed, try to think of yourself as the main character of a videogame, facing new obstacles and unpredictable challenges every day. You’re kind of a modern hero, after all!
I’m on my way to the office. The sun is rising, the streets are almost empty, all I hear is the sound of the seagulls and the chatter and laughter of the few people nearby. Everything is so peaceful.
I like to get into the office early–before the rest of the team–to start my day with this sense of calm. So, I arrive, sit down, get comfortable, and turn on my computer.
YOUR FIRST MISSION HAS STARTED: 99 emails in your inbox. 15 minutes remaining.
Ok, let’s start this battle against time: have a quick look at all the emails, set priorities, delete the useless automatic notifications, forward, reply, give thanks, apologize, archive, save, send.
MISSION COMPLETED. You gain 50 points.
Well, that was easier than I thought. I’ve checked all the 99 emails. And in record time, I might add.
But… Wait, what happened? Did I seriously get 10 new emails in just 15 minutes?
Ok, START AGAIN.
You gain extra points and a special bonus: one coffee with coworkers.
People start to arrive.
Chat with coworkers. Use special bonus.
“What a nice new dress!” “How was your weekend?” “Oh, you went to that place we were talking about on Friday. Did you like it?”
A workday doesn’t really begin until you have your first coffee with coworkers.
Then I come back to my desk and…
15 new emails. The countdown has already begun. Again.
(Didn’t I say I like to get into the office before the rest of the team?)
NEW MISSION: URGENT PROJECT. A new client appears. They need 2000 words by ASAP today.
It’s only 9 in the morning, I have enough time, I can do it. Easy.
DANGER! Half of your contractors are on holiday and one of your in-house linguists is home sick. If you do not complete this mission, you may lose this client.
Ok, think (fast). Check the form with the freelancers’ holidays, select the most suitable for this task, send an email to all of them, wait for a reply, split the file into two parts and assign each of them to a different translator to speed it up, book a member of your in-house team for revision.
SIDE MISSIONS: read other 10 emails, reply to all of them, join a call with a client, take part in an internal meeting.
Use special skill: multi-tasking.
The morning continues quite as usual: new requests with absurd deadlines; negotiations; a discussion with a client on a bad feedback we received because we did not follow the instructions they forgot to share with us; one or two extra coffees…
WARNING! You have run out of special bonuses. No extra coffees allowed in the next 4 hours.
BAD STATUS EFFECT: Irritability and Anxiety.
…budget estimates; an internal meeting where we spend half an hour deciding when we should schedule a new meeting to discuss what we didn’t have time to talk about today; projects deliveries; new requests accepted.
URGENT PROJECT DELIVERED: MISSION COMPLETED. You gain a new special bonus: beer with coworkers after 6 PM.
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: the new client’s trust.
It’s been quite a morning but it’s over now. I’m ready for my lunchbreak, one entire hour of absolute relaxation. No emails, no urgent requests, no problems to be solved…
DANGER! The new client from this morning is calling you; something went wrong with the files you delivered. Immediate action required.
NEW MISSION: SURVIVE UNTIL 6 PM.
TO BE CONTINUED…
See what I mean? Every single day (or should I say hour?) in the life of a Project Manager is a new challenge, with unpredictable obstacles lurking right around the corner. But you never get bored, right? After all, what other job could possibly make you feel like the lead character of your own videogame?
Francesca Miglietta – With her head in the clouds since the day she was born, she discoverd her rational side thanks to the role of PM. She lived for a few years in Spain, where she left a piece of her heart and where she goes back from time to time to find comfort in tapas and sangria. In Italy, she finds her vital source of energy in coffee and focaccia.
"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." Nelson Mandela