Are you a ‘slasher’?

“Have you been doing too much?” So many people 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 too busy.

When I first read about the concept of Project Portfolio Matrix (PPM), I did not connect it to anything beyond work projects. PPM starts with a graph where you plot costs on one axis and time on the other. 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?‘. Constantly juggling multiple projects can result in key project mistakes and it happens often when you lack the necessary overview to keep it all in clear perspective. In the end no real progress is made.

That’s the objective of this post. Let’s see how we can apply PPM concepts to some personal priorities. In The Decision Book, 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.

As I read these ideals, my immediate reaction is – it’s not always possible. Sometimes we will end up as ‘slashers’, but we can make all that busyness count towards our personal vision.


Quotes from: The Decision Book by Krogerus and Tschaeppeler. 

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