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Thursday, February 15, 2007

One Tough Project!

Like millions of others, I began the year with a resolution to lose weight and "get in shape" by years end. I took this resolution and determined that a "project" was required.

As everybody knows, weight loss projects have a high probability of failure. These types of projects are full of risks and obstacles. Thankfully, there lots of people that have had "project" success in regards to losing weight and getting into better physical condition. The success of others gives us historical data, which is the best kind of data to use when planning a project.

As with any project, we need ways to measure progress. If we don't measure progress we don't know if we are doing the right things. Measures and objectives are normally set in the Project Initiation phase.

Some measures of project progress that I'm using are:

Weight Loss

Losing Inches

Losing Fat – Body Mass Index

Lower Cholesterol

A project must have measurable objectives (goals) so we know at the end of the project if we were successful. The objectives I set for the project are:

Lose twenty pounds (minimum)

Lower Cholesterol by 20%

Lose three inches off waist

Run a 5K and a 10K by years end

Run 300 miles or more during the year

Ride bike over 1000 miles

Again, all objectives are measurable, so they will be used at end of the year to help determine project success or failure.

After the objectives and measures were set, planning began. Some equipment was required like new running shoes, and some equipment was just cool to have like a Nike+ iPod kit to wirelessly connect the new Nike running shoes to my existing iPod Nano.

Briefly, a Nike+ iPod kit helps a runner measure a number of items like distance traveled (miles), calories burned, pace, time spent running/walking, and additionally uploads exercise data to the website to help you track your goals and visually see your progress over time. The information on the nikeplus website can be shared with others, and you can setup your personal goals and issue challenges to other nikeplus users. I think this is all very cool, and in the end is a very usable tool. One last note on this subject, since you are carrying an iPod when you run/walk you can bring along your favorite music for additional motivation and inspiration. Who can resist running while listening to the likes of Green Day, Big & Rich, or Skillet!

Remember, measuring progress helps us to see our accomplishments, and the historical data we collected from other weight loss projects tells us that tools like the Nike+ iPod product can motivate us by giving us feedback of our progress. One disclaimer is needed, I'm not endorsing any products here, I'm just sharing what works for me.

While planning my project I also determined I should purchase a heart rate monitor. While not a required item, it is an important project monitoring tool since I am turning 50 (ouch) this year and want to monitor (Project Controlling) my heart rate to ensure I don't overdo my workouts. The heart rate monitor has an additional benefit of helping to ensure I stay in the best fat burning target zone during my workouts. Again, we can't manage what we don't measure.

Once the objectives were set and procurement was complete, it was time to begin the hard work of getting started (Project Execution). While getting started is important, it is also important that the scope of the project doesn't exceed the capabilities of your resources (heart, lungs, legs, willpower). To mitigate the issue of exceeding my resources and quitting after a few weeks or months because of injury or burnout, which happens to the majority of folks starting this type of project, I have made sure that I start slow and have small measurable goals.

One final thing I did to help achieve success was I downloaded a running plan from the internet entitled "From Couch Potato to Runner in Nine Weeks". I did modify the plan because I think it was designed for someone younger than I who was also in better shape; however it is a written plan that again helps me to measure progress.

ProjectSteps Rule: A plan that isn't in writing isn't a plan.

As far as a interim status report goes, I set a goal to run twenty miles in January and made the goal. Overall, I am pleased with my progress so far. Since January 3rd, I have lost 11 pounds. I have also changed my eating habits, walked more during the day, and generally feel better.

The bottom line, using project management techniques in your personal life can help you achieve your goals.

If you have experiences or tips let me know by sending a comment and I will publish them here.


Anonymous said...

I found your blog through a search for roles and responsiblities. I think you have some great content here but I'm not really sure.

I find this reversed type really hard to read, tedious. I'm a communications specialist at Iowa State University. Would you consider doing what usability guru Jakob Neilsen says? Use a dark type on a light background?

ProjectSteps said...

I have updated the format of the webpage based upon remarks like this one. Let me know if you have any comments.


Stephen Seay, PMP

Anonymous said...

Awesome, Stephen.

Thank you. I'll start reading.