The first step to overcoming Christmas is admitting you have a Project. The festive season is yet another real world example where your skills as a Project Manager can elevate your experience higher than Santa’s sleigh. Still worried you won’t pull it off? Don’t get your tinsel in a twist – we’re here to help, with our “Project Manage Your Christmas” guide. A gift, from us to you.
STEP ONE: PLAN
Identify what you expect to achieve with Project Christmas, and plan how to make it happen. Your family are brilliant (and often untapped) resources. Yes, they’ll have high expectations for you to deliver mind-blowing festive magic, but they can absolutely contribute to making it happen themselves. Teams appreciate being needed and seeing their hard work pay off. So set the kids on the Christmas cards, and task your partner to take charge of the decorations – delegation is essential and makes your life easier.
Because they’re invested in having a perfect day, your family are also stakeholders in Project Christmas, and it’s down to you to manage their expectations. Start off by being as upfront as you can about your budget, which might encourage them to ditch the idea of a 7,000 piece Lego set for something more reasonable. Emphasis on the “encourage” – you know what clients can be like.
STEP TWO: INITIATE
Sorry, Project Managers, sending your Christmas list to Santa is an absolute no-no; you should be clinging to it for dear life. We recommend a list (or multiple lists) of resources and tasks which will help you achieve your Project Christmas goals. You should continually update this list when problems arise, or when tasks are completed. Ideally, you should also have a list of objectives and ideas which will help you understand what your successful Christmas Day should look like once complete.
We also cannot stress this enough: do as much as you can in advance of Christmas Day. You know those aspirational adverts, where everyone looks serene, and no-one’s running around trying to find the gravy granules? There’s no way they didn’t start working on Christmas well in advance; they’re probably so prepared that they’ve had time to make gravy from scratch anyway. Consider what needs to be done, and who needs to do it before making sure these tasks are started in accordance with your deadline. (Hint: it’s December 25th)!
STEP THREE: LEARN
Often, it seems as though no matter how much preparation you manage to cram in before Christmas Day, something goes wrong. Maybe last year you sat two confrontational guests together; maybe you forgot the parsnips; maybe you didn’t secure the table extenders properly before putting out plates and are still trying to get cranberry sauce out of the carpet.
In any project, historical information is one of your best resources for figuring out how to succeed (or how not to fail). Ideally, you will have already referred to mistakes and successes from Christmas Past to inform Christmas Present’s project scope, requirements, risks and benefits. Remember to take notes on this year’s results: you’ll need them for Christmas Yet to Come.
With all this planning, preparation and execution, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s really important. Christmas is a celebration, and similarly a successful project should be celebrated with your team. If you micromanage your family, or focus too much on what didn’t go well, they’ll be reluctant to participate again. As you should in any project, keep up team morale and motivation, taking time to enjoy the successes yourself. You’ve earned it.