By Vicki Wrona, PMP

The effect of clutter and tips to de-clutter are readily available online and on TV. It’s all the rage and constantly in the back of many people’s minds, especially during spring cleaning or when moving. When I received another link about dealing with clutter from my sister (do you think she’s trying to tell me something?), it got me thinking about how some people approach projects and why they so often get derailed.

Constantly saying yes to every request on a project is like clutter in your drawers or cars or homes. At some point, you have to be willing to say no, or to let go. I’m not saying it will always be easy, but be clear about the purpose of the project (or outfit or decoration) and know when you are going astray from that purpose. The title of the newsletter that included this decluttering article was, “If you don’t love it or use it, it’s clutter.” Another technique, offered by Karen Smith of Next Chapter Moves, is to ask yourself, “would you buy this now?”

Thinking of scope this way may help with discerning what options, features or nice-to-haves should stay in vs. what should not. I realize that when it comes to scope, there are areas that are fuzzy or gray, and that is why defining scope can be so difficult at times. Believe me, I understand. But knowing that you have a tendency to accept too much is half the battle. Use the awareness to question and check yourself when planning projects and managing changes in the future, so you are more likely to take appropriate actions and keep the team on track.

If you, as a leader, are not focused, your team will not be. You set the stage for what happens on your projects, and good or bad, it starts with you as the project manager or lead. This is true for any organization, unit, department, group, small business, project, or family. The leader sets the tone for everyone and everything else. Others can work around that leader and tone, but not easily. That tone becomes the culture for that project, initiative, everyday operations, or everyday life, creating the foundation for success. Or failure.

If you have a tendency to collect things or say yes all too often, create a checklist to reference whenever you evaluate a request, or put a sign somewhere in your office (or home) that will remind you to take a step back and more objectively look at and analyze the impact of saying yes to that request.

If you were to make a sign or a checklist, what would it say? When I get too busy or overwhelmed, mine would say,

“Breathe. Make conscious decisions rather than react.”

Please share your comments and ideas below, so we can all benefit from each other.


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