Like so many different sectors in the workplace, the role and function of the project manager is an ever-changing one. For any project manager who wants to be the very best at what they do, this means ensuring that they are at the very top of their game – all of the time. Training and keeping abreast of changes in the world of project management are vital if you want to ensure this. The problem that many project managers will find themselves facing is just how can they fit any extra training and reading into what can already be a very busy work day without having a negative effect on the sometimes delicate work and home life balance. Read on as we explore just some of the digital project management training tips that can really help any busy project manager.
When it comes to project managers training courses, an increasingly popular choice is the option to complete online training courses. And, with so many benefits to be had over other, more traditional, classroom-based training courses it is easy to see why this is the way forward for so many.
The biggest reason many people choose to go online with their learning is simply for the convenience. Online training can be done from your preferred location, and there is no need to travel to another venue in order to do the work. This means for those people who are already time poor there is no “wasted” time travelling. Depending on your office environment, it may be possible to complete the training there. Otherwise, it is easy to fit in during your free time from the comfort of your own home.
Timetable to suit you
The joy of online learning is that you can do the work when it is convenient for you, unlike classroom-based training which is at set times. So, if you have a young family, this means you can fit it in around family life, for example, doing some studying each evening once your children are in bed. It also means if you have more free time than you thought you can do a little more study, or if something comes up and cuts into your study time you can postpone it for another day. For people with a busy lifestyle, fitting online training into a full schedule is a fantastic choice.
How can I do online training?
If an online project managers course sounds like it might be the best opportunity you have to do the training you want in a way that works around your family and work life then you might be wondering how you go about doing this. There is a huge range of courses using a variety of methods and blended learning so the best of our PM training tips is to first consider which type of training you feel would suit you best and would fit in with your schedule.
Once you have chosen a course that suits your needs then you just need to decide where you are going to study and work out some kind of a schedule that you can use for getting that training done.
If you are already working, then one of the key issues when doing online training can be finding the time to do the required work for your course. The advantage of online learning is that you can break the work down into smaller chunks and fit these into your routine very easily. In order to do this successfully, it could be a good idea to identify those parts of the day when you might have a segment of free time and work out a schedule of what you can study and when.
It is important to remember that when looking at how you manage your time for studying online, especially if you are doing so from home, that things can change very quickly. Life can – and often will – throw you a curve ball which will see some of your free time vanishing, whether this is illness, a child needing extra care, or computer problems. It is important not to panic about any instances of lost time like this.
A good time management plan for your studying will allow you to adjust your learning time so that you can catch up on any missed study sessions that you might have planned for. The joy of studying online in this way is of course that if you suddenly find yourself with some free time you could use it for extra study, which could mean you would complete a course quicker than expected.
Another of our PM training tips is to break your work down into manageable sections. Some people find it very handy to assign each chunk of work a particular time limit that they feel they can cover the work in.
When you are studying online you need to be in charge of your own workload, so it is important to find a system that works for you and then stick with it.
Create the right study environment
The right space for studying is really important, so before you even begin your online course you need to give serious consideration to where you will be studying.
If you have a small home with little extra space then you will need to consider the importance of being able to put your study materials away easily and bring them out again when needed with minimal disruption and extra work. Here are a few tips for creating the best study space in your home:
Designate a space
Choose one area or room in your home where you will do your studying. Over time, your brain will associate this area with studying, and you will find that it becomes easier to get into study mode when you sit down. This will make it much easier to study when you are pressed for time. Moving from one spot to another can be seriously disruptive; there will be a continual stream of new items to distract you from the studying that you need to do.
Being comfortable whilst you study is very important – it’s not just one of the best training tips, it is also essential for your health. Do not, however, get too comfortable as this is likely to distract you from the work you need to do. Choose a chair that offers good support and most importantly is just the right height for your chosen working surface. If you have access to a proper desk or office chair that can be adjusted, then this is ideal. If you will be working online, you will also want to consider having an appropriate place to set up a computer or a laptop. It is just as important at home that this is at a good height for you as it is in an office, so take your time to find the most appropriate spot.
It is always better to select a space with plenty of natural light for studying over a space with artificial light. Natural light can make you feel much happier and this can have a positive impact on your study. If you don’t have a nice big window you can position yourself near to then a mirror will help to increase the light in your room. Of course, if you are doing most of your online study at night then there is a good chance it will be dark outside.
If this is the case then try and position yourself so that any ceiling light is behind you, over your shoulder. Any desk lighting that you want to use is better positioned so that the base of the lamp is at chin level. This avoids the light shining into your eyes, which can be distracting, and instead shines it on your work.
Some people will tell you that they like music on when they are studying. For other people this can help to focus there attentions. But, it can be an unnecessary distraction that means you pay more attention to the music than the work you should be doing. If you do need some other noise in the room when you are studying then try classical music rather than your favourite band. Or even some ambient music which can help to break up the silence in the room without distracting you from your studying.
Turn off your mobile
Mobile phones certainly have their place, but they can also be incredibly distracting. So when you are ready to start studying turn your mobile off so that it is not a distraction. For many people, the temptation of having their mobile phone simply turned upside down or in their pocket is still too much. Instead put it in aeroplane mode or turn it off completely. Spending time without your phone that you can completely devote to your studies can be rather liberating. It’s one of the best training tips for busy project managers.
Plants have been shown to have a very calming effect on people in offices. So if you have some space a plant can make a good addition to your studying environment. They can even help to improve the quality of the air. If you are not great with plants, then choose something low maintenance or opt for something that is low in pollen.
Once you have finished the segment of your studies you have scheduled it is important to leave your study area. Whilst this might be a comfortable area, you need to make the connection between studying there and relaxing elsewhere in your home. So, turn of the computer and move to another room or part of your house to do another activity. This will help your brain to switch off.
Remember the important points
Sometimes the old ways can be the best when it comes to remembering important points. There really is no better way of reminding yourself of the important things you have learnt than by writing them down. For some people this can mean writing the key facts down on revision cards. However, this is not the only written memory tool that you can employ. Some people prefer to make notes using brightly coloured pens to highlight the most important information. Others prefer to use spider diagrams to group important information together. If you have a preferred method then you may find it best to stick with something that you are familiar with. Otherwise it can be worth taking a little bit of time to look at the different options in order to find one that works for you.
Ask for help
Studying can be hard, whether you choose to undertake your training in a classroom environment or online. Whether you have trouble with the correct mindset or find points in the course you don’t understand, it’s important to ask for help. One of the most important training tips is to check what type of support the company offering the course will provide. A good project management training company will be there for you every step of the way offering help and support when you need it. And if you do it is important to make use of the help that is offered – it can really make all the difference.
As well as asking for the support with your online training that you might need it can be a good idea to revisit some of the key points we raised earlier about time management and a good working space. If during the course of your training you have let some of these slip then a few adjustments may really help to get you back on track.
While we’re not saying project management training will be a walk in the park, with these training tips it can be more than manageable if you plan carefully. With the tips and advice above, you’re sure to get the best out of your training and be ready to use your new skills at work.