This summer we began a major renovation in our home. Over the course of a month and a half, we worked closely with a contractor and a range of tradespeople as they gutted, tiled and rebuilt – from the cement floor up – our brand new kitchen and bathroom. Earlier this year, John wrote an excellent piece on what he learned from his own home renovation project. This project taught my wife and I many of these lessons plus some additional ones related to project management. Here are four lessons around project management that we took away from our reno.

Value time

Time is important in many ways when it comes to project management. The first is its importance in the lead up to the project. Good projects need plenty of thoughtful planning. Winging it can get the job done, but usually not as well as you would have hoped. Budget a generous amount of time to recruit a good contractor or to search for appliances that will provide the most bang for your buck. Same goes for working on a project at work. While it can be tempting to jump right into the weeds, take your time to plan a strategy that’s going to guide you to your end goal. The extra forethought is well worth it.

Be aware of scope creep

Once you rip open that wall and discover horrible mildew inside, the scope of what you are doing can quickly blow construction timelines out of the water. Equally pernicious is the inclination in a large project to add additional tasks or features to the overall project, increasing costs and making the job more complex. Sometimes these additions make sense, but other times, if you aren’t giving them a lot of thought, they can be added costs that distract from your main goal. Same goes if you are project managing an event at work or the implementation of a strategic plan. It’s good to be nimble and incorporate new objectives, but always be conscious that a new objective may rob you of resources (time, money, energy) to complete your original objective.

Stay organized with lists

For smaller projects, you might be able to get away with keeping your to-do list in your head. For a big renovation or work related project with multiple deadlines, different team members or varied schedules as well as lots of itty-bitty tasks and deliverables, you’re going to want to create your own database where you can store all the information in one place. We love google docs because not only is it accessible everywhere, but you can share it with all your team members to ensure everyone is on the same page. Regular check-ins and meetings are also a good way to go so that you can keep the momentum moving forward on the project while ensuring accountability for the entire team in getting their job(s) done.

Consider your goal and your process

When you are planning out a large project like a major home renovation, a good first step, long before the actual “work” begins, is to envision what it will look like when it’s done and how you will interact with it. Picturing success, before you even begin the project, is important for you to actually achieving your goal. Equally important is to consider how the project with impact the rest of your day to day life. The bigger the project, the more time and resources it will likely suck away from your day to day routine. Being equipped to manage this time-suck or arranging additional support (staff, partner, etc) to slot in should you become consumed is key.

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