Category: projects

Managing projects

An associate asked me for advice about being a project manager. This is an excerpt of my email response.

Things I find most helpful in managing projects:

* Learn how to run a meeting.

* Be organized. Really. Most of PM work is being the one in the room who is organized. Use a calendar, a ticketing system to manage tasks and who is doing them. Take notes. Be the one other people count on to be organized, because most people aren’t.

* Learn how to manage up. The busiest people are often the ones with the most power, who also happen to be the ones as a PM you need to corral when decisions need to get made.

* Learn to manage your own anxiety. The PM must read the room, herd the cats, finesse the decision-making. The PM cares about the schedule and the resources available. That can make you stressed. Figure out how to let that go, in whatever way works best for you. A kind of involved detachment works for me.

* Learn to recognize who holds the Truth. As the PM, it’s likely you.

Fresh coat of paint

After a decade of the same non-responsive layout for this site, I have paid off some technical debt to myself. The blog is now on WordPress with a clean mobile-friendly style. The server has been upgraded from CentOS 5 to CentOS 7. And thanks to the good folks at letsencrypt.org, every site hosted on this server has been updated to support SSL (HTTPS).

Managing a household of library users

My family are avid public library patrons. I’d estimate that in the three years we’ve been in Lawrence we’ve checked out well over 1000 items amongst the five of us.

It’s been up to me to manage the due notices and pay the inevitable overdue fines. I think we’ve only had to pay to replace a handful of items, which is a pretty decent success rate given who my children are. Still, it’s been fairly tedious to juggle five library cards, five accounts, log in to the site to check and renew each as needed.

The Lawrence Public Library website greatly improved when they switched to the bibliocommons platform. I finally got around to writing a command-line library management tool to aggregate all five accounts into a single report and automatically renew any that are coming due.

Example:

% perl my-toolbox/lfk-library --renew --all

No more click-click-click and putting-off-till-its-too-late-and-whoops-we-have-a-fine.