Last week was the last session of a course I teach on project management in the participatory arts. As a group, we’ve bonded over the last six months – over the chaos in the sector as well as the content in the course.
I thought I’d pass on the top ten tips that I picked up from this group– on how to work and keep yourself sane whilst delivering projects.
What is it you are really trying to do?
You can’t do anything really, really well until you are clear about what you are trying to do and what it will look like when you have done it.
Look behind the funders words
Don’t just look at funders criteria for a specific fund. Do your research, look at the back story. Why do they do what they do and what is it that they are trying to change overall. You’ll have more success if you can tap into their drivers.
Bigger is not always best
Some projects are small for a reason. If the need to be small, keep ’em small. If you like working on these projects, stick with them – there is no need for everything to scale up if it’s not right for the work.
Know what you like
At the end of the last session, one attendee said he’d got a lot from the course, but had decided he didn’t really want to manage his own projects, he wanted to concentrate on his art. He said it almost apologetically – and didn’t need to. Knowing what you prefer to do is great – having the skills to do what you might have to do now and then is pretty good too (be warned anyone taking on his project management – he now knows exactly what you should be doing!)
Stretch – it’s about what the project needs, not what you need
You like to send long emails, no one wants to read them. You need to find another way to communicate rather than expect everyone to tap into your version of the perfect communication. Sorry, but that’s the way it works.
Contingency funds and contingency time
Most people are used to budgeting with a little slack – for when stuff comes up that you’ve not thought about or costs more than you planned. Do the same with time – around intense and busy periods, plan in a little free time so that things don’t cause too much panic if they over run.
If you feel isolated, get support from outside your organisation. There will be people doing something similar somewhere else. Find them and talk to them. You don’t have to work in a vacuum.
Know when to stop
Being an optimist is great, but don’t be deluded. Sometimes things don’t work out and need to stop. You don’t help anyone by not facing up to your responsibilities in a timely manner.
Don’t keep cutting yourself down
Another budgeting one this. You know when you want the budget to balance? Don’t keep reducing your fee/your costs to make it do so. It might make it work on paper but it’s not fair on you and you could start to resent it half way through when you are working for peanuts. Budget what you are worth.
Say thank you
Simple but easily forgotten. Say it soon and say it with heart, mind and spirit.
Great to meet and work with everyone – thanks for all the fun and games.
My photo from an early session with this group and remember if you have enjoyed this and want to read more, you can subscribe to Jo Verrent’s blog by email.