“Have you been doing too much?” Most of the people I have spoken to in the last few weeks have described their weeks as being very busy and themselves as being very tired. Whether it’s multiple jobs or multiple projects, supporting the family or being a student – there are times when we realize that we are doing too much… and sometimes with little to show for it. It helps to remember the big picture especially when you are busy.

When I first read about the concept of Project Portfolio Matrix (PPM), I did not connect it to anything beyond work projects. Basically PPM helps to prioritize projects in alignment with goals while maximizing the use of available resources. In other words, it helps to maintain an overview while handling multiple projects. The matrix can be used to evaluate multiple scenarios and could prove very useful when applied correctly.

The idea of applying the matrix to both work and private projects was suggested in The Decision Book. The chapter on PPM was dedicated to ‘slashers’ – people who cannot give a single answer to the question, ‘and what do you do for a living?‘. Reminds me of people who feel the need to constantly juggle multiple projects, even when they don’t need to. And more often than not, they fail to keep it all perfectly balanced, dropping key projects because they lack the necessary overview. In the end no real progress is made.

In the chapter, the author was particularly talking about the matrix in relation to ‘objectives achieved’ and the ‘amount learned’. Give it a try: You can use the parameters that are relevant to your situation. Costs can be considered not only in terms of money but also resources such as friends, energy, stress levels. The author suggested using the x-axis as the measure to determine how a project is helping you achieve your overriding objective. On the y-axis, you can then plot how much you are able to learn from the project.

The author suggested ways to interpret the results and I will quote it directly from the book:

  • Reject projects if there is nothing you can learn from them and if they do not correspond to your overriding vision.

  • Projects that you can learn from but do not correspond to your vision are interesting but will not help you achieve your objective. Try to change the project so that it serves your vision.

  • If a project corresponds to your vision, but you are learning nothing new, look for somebody else to do it for you.

  • If you are learning something and achieving your vision, you have hit the jackpot.

If you were using this tool in an area like fundraising, it could mean plotting your fundraising target on the x-axis and plotting your strategic efforts on the y-axis. Then you could measure how strategic your efforts really are in achieving your goal and invest time accordingly. Sounds like a winning strategy.

Maybe we will end up as permanent ‘slashers’. We can make all that busyness count towards our overriding vision.


Quotes from: The Decision Book by Krogerus and Tschaeppeler. 


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