I saw an article recently that highlighted the top seven questions a project manager would be asked in an interview. It got me thinking about what I would be asking if I were the interviewer.
As much as I tried, it was hard to argue with the number one question.
Can you tell me about your organizational skills?
I would certainly agree that good organizational skills are right at the top of the list of requirements for any project manager.
What am I looking for in an answer?
Let’s start with “I like to deal with things on the fly”. Interview over.
“I’m really well organized – people tell me I am” doesn’t do much for me.
I say, “Show me”. How do you keep yourself organized? What does the first hour of every day look like? What systems do you use to stay on top of everything? How do you organize yourself when everything goes in different directions unexpectedly?
We all know that the pressure on project managers from all directions starts and never ends throughout the lifecycle of a project. It is essential to stay organized. As project managers, we should all have a system to handle this part of the job.
What is your system? Tell Me About Your Organizational Skills.
At this stage of my career, I’m dealing with three major initiatives. They each take a lot of time and focus every week.
First of all, I use a very cool product called Remember the Milk to manage my To Do List. The key part of this product, for me, is that it is live and present on my computer, my cell phone and my iPad. Regardless of the time of day or night, I am able to add a thought or activity in a couple of keystrokes. If it isn’t that easy, I won’t do it and by the time I wake up in the morning, that thought is gone. Within this product, I can prioritize, sort by date, create my own reports and more.
Like all of you, I get a ton of emails every day. I use Outlook as the front end to my email. I love the ‘category tool’ in Outlook. It allows me to assign a category to every email in the inbox and sort by that category. This is like stacking all my files in different piles on my desk. I can now focus on one area of my life at a time and continue to feel under control.
Finally, I use the good old handwritten list for each day’s activities. Each is item is prioritized and I will often estimate the amount of time it might take to complete.
My clients want me to be well organized. I need to be well organized. How about you?