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Let me just say right off the bat, I truly respect a good Project Manager.
There are many fine professionals who have chosen this as a career. They live the Gantt Chart and keep track of everything that is going on, and they are masters of the Critical Path.
This article is not about those professionals, nor about Mega-Projects that have dozens of sub-projects which each impact the larger picture, and that absolutely require a focused individual to run them. This is about those whose title does NOT have the word “project” in it.
Project Management is a skill, just like public speaking, or being good with numbers,
But what is it?
Gantt Charts, the jargon, the meetings, resource use, etc. are just the tools of the trade. What really defines Project Management is the practice of intentionally and systematically evaluating your next move, at every move, without losing perspective of the end goal; while this is happening in a constrained environment in terms of resources, cost, and time.
This practice forces us to evaluate whether if what we are doing now will get us closer to the goal. It also focuses our priorities, on what will get us the MOST progress of all, but without losing the perspective of tasks that have to be completed in parallel in order to reach the end goal.
Everybody who does work that matters can use this skill, even if we are just fixing dinner. We know that we need to chop the veggies before we can cook them, and we also know that can gain more progress by starting to Sauté now, but we also know that if the table has not been set, and if the champagne has not been chilled, we will finish our dish, but we will have no dinner yet.

So get some PM skills on, plan, execute, and enjoy dinner. Happy Valentine’s!
NEXT: The most important question in Project Management.