Make no doubt about it, while being a project manager within the educational publishing industry can be immensely rewarding, it can also be rather high-stress at times. Meeting deadlines, managing authors and myriad contributors, having difficult financial conversations, and immersing yourself in new and unfamiliar software and platforms are just a few of the tasks that can put even the most experienced PMs on edge. This is especially true when you consider the difficult past year and a half or so everyone has had, dealing with new challenges due to COVID-19, various uncertainties, altered children’s and spouse’s schedules, and the like.
Whether you work as a PM like I do, or in a similar position, or doing something completely different… we all have unique stressors to manage alongside our own typical day-to-day. To that point, I’d like to share a fairly typical “day in the life” and hope that you’re able to relate, maybe have a laugh, and remember we’re all in this together.
Monday, Summer, 2021 – 6:21 am: “Daddddyyyyyy – time to wake up!!” Ah, there’s my alarm clock by way of my almost 8-year old daughter, and hot on her heels, my almost 5-year old son. I got a decent night’s sleep, though I was stressing a bit about staffing a high-priority project. I sent out a couple of feelers on Thursday and Friday, so I’m hopeful at least a couple of those come through; we’ll see. “Hey Dad – while you’re working today, we’re going in the pooooool!”
7:15 am: Cleaned up and dressed, time to get some COFFEE, something to eat, and help the kids with breakfast and getting ready for the day. My wife, who has also worked at home since March 2020, is busily typing away at her computer. “Just got an email, looks like they’re targeting September for a return to the office for those who want to,” she says. We begin discussing what we have planned for the day – various meetings and tasks we each need to respectively handle. In the meantime, we get the kids’ fruit, yogurt, and cereal ready. I’m also mentally planning some talking points for a 10 am meeting with one of Lumina’s higher education clients.
8:54 am: The kids have been dropped off and it’s time to get to work. I sit down and immediately start fielding queries from my offshore colleagues (the time change between India and my location in the US means that morning is when our respective work schedules coincide). There’s a lot going on, with different things coming from all different angles, but everyone is well organized and asking the right questions. I offer any wisdom I can and try to point colleagues in the right directions to move ahead on their projects. I’m very fortunate to work with so many great professionals, both in the US and India. These days are still tough for everyone, especially my coworkers in India; it’s great to feel supported by so many intelligent and hard-working folks.
11:22 am: The 10 am meeting went fine and I, as well as the other stakeholders, feel good about where we’re heading. I’ve got to admit, the higher frequency with which people are showing their faces on Zoom/Teams meetings really makes for better and more lively interactions. Everyone seems engaged and pleased to see each other. It’s always good to take a step back and remember we’re not just email addresses located elsewhere in our home offices, scattered around the country (and globe). These “face-to-face” conversations remind us of that and – in my opinion – allow for more productive discussions, whether it be to kick off a new project, or troubleshoot whatever issues might be holding a project back.
1:49 pm: Ugh, almost 2 pm – I guess I should have some lunch before it gets too late. I’ve spent the past 90 minutes or so reconciling counts for a Psychology supplements project, making sure dollars and cents match, and updating iConnect, Lumina’s management information system. While these tasks can feel tedious at times, they’re part of the job, and honestly, sometimes it’s a good break from email and digging into the nitty gritty of schedules, project workflow, and the like. (Plus, it was a good task to wrap up while listening to my neighbors’ driveway getting ripped up and repaved!)
I decide the leftover spaghetti with anchovies and peppers, quickly nuked in the microwave – along with a tall glass of ice water – should be quick and easy so I can get back to work in short order.
3:38 pm: It’s now downpouring (after being 92° F all day), so I need to stop what I’m doing and go shut every window in the house. I apologize to the new colleague I am trying to train on how to use ExpertSource Pro, Lumina’s internal subject matter expert database, and go ensure rain isn’t soaking my windowsills and floors. I sit back down and start talking through the various search functionalities and wouldn’t you know it, the sun is shining again!
4:51 pm: Almost time to wrap up for the day. I review my to-do list to ensure I haven’t forgotten anything and write to anyone who I need to follow up with before logging off for the day. I also check in with my colleagues to make sure they don’t need anything else from me to wrap up their own days. A few more emails to write, a few things to check and I’ll be done until tomorrow morning…
6:17 pm: I’d begun tidying up around the house when I logged off at 5:20: doing the dishes, getting dinner ready, etc. when I got an unexpected call from a trusted contributor. They are a bit frazzled on expectations and compensation on the latest high-priority project and I’ve been chatting with them for close to an hour. I take the time to explain everything I know and ensure that I’ll get any answers for issues that may be outstanding as soon as possible. They thank me for my time and we both hang up. I hear my wife’s car pull in and immediately thereafter, the kids at the door – time to start dinner!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my “day in the life.” A final thought – Work and life can be hectic, but it’s always important to remember what makes your life good and to also be aware of others who may be having a tough go of it. Support others as you’re able and your kindness and efforts will undoubtedly be returned to you.
Have an experience you’d like to share with the author or interested in hearing more about Lumina’s project management approach and team? We want to hear from you! Email Lumina to share your thoughts, or consider taking the time to read some of our other wonderful Lumina Datamatics blog posts.