How I Apply My Corporate Project Management Skills to Plan Fun Memories

I find it a shame that as women we spend 40 hours a week planning and project managing in our careers and leave little time to do the same for our #1 priority, our families! That’s why I created The 14 Fundamentals to Personal Project Management for planning fun, lifelong memories! I’m glad to you’re here because if you follow these fundamentals, I know I will have successfully improved the life of one of my readers AND their closest family and friends!

Focus Your Energy on Your Priorities

It’s time to apply your project management capabilities to your personal priorities, Mama!

Invest your time and energy into your priorities. Seems like simple statement, right? We only have so much of ourselves to give. It’s critical to be intentional about what you spend it on.

Unfortunately, the absence of establishing intentions actually solidifies the fact our priorities are not what we desire them to be. After this, if you haven’t reassessed your priorities lately, take a moment to do so. Pssst… YOU better be one of your priorities, too.

Warning: Nerd Alert!

I’m going to cover how I apply my corporate project management skills to plan fun, lifelong memories. The job of a project manager is a bit of an art, stubbornly guided by consistently re-aligning the project to follow some basic principles.

I’m not going to lie. While these are called basic project management principles, it’s also going to seem a bit advanced. Like, I know I’m going to catch an eye roll or two throughout this post. I’m totally cool with that; it’s worth it.

These fundamentals are designed for you to keep in mind, so that your creativity and hard work pay off. Big time fun and lifelong memories! If you practice using them…

I guarantee you will be able take on more challenging fun projects with ease. You will step up your game, enjoy your life and keep your sanity in the process!

Sounds great, right? Before I dive in, let me give you a little background on myself.

Hi, I’m Leigh Anne!

I’m the Founder and Author of Memory in the Making.
I recently stepped away from my 9 to 5 after having been a freight industry executive for 12 years, mostly overseeing and project managing marketing and technology.

In my heart, I knew it was time for a change. In the future, I’m confident I’ll reignite my professional life as an entrepreneur. But for the moment, it seems like the perfect time to enjoy a little me time, my young daughters and my marriage. All while learning this new business of being blogger!

Over the years, I’ve picked up quite a few tricks and worked out the challenges that come with planning and executing over-the-top memories. Many people frequently ask me how I pull off entertaining large groups with themed parties. Or think I’m a little crazy for how much time and effort I put into planning vacations and holiday activities for my kids. And sometimes even seemingly frustrated that my husband and I block the time to individually take our kids on dates, and dip away to make quality time with each other.

I’m here to to tell you, YOU CAN DO THIS, TOO!
Are you willing to take my hand? If so, subscribe now to the Memory in the Making blog and I promise I will guide you to where you want to be. And a whole lot faster than it took me to figure this out!

Memory in the Making's Founder and Author - Leigh Anne

I Still Jack-things-up!

I have made MANY mistakes in this very process. Over, and over, and over again. I will continue to learn from my future mistakes and learn from fellow blogger’s mistakes. In the coming blog posts, I will share them with you so that you not only can avoid these potholes. But also, so you believe me when I tell you that this is NOT about perfection to me. It’s about creating fun memories, period.

I’d love hear from you if this proves helpful to your successes and learn from your failures too! Contact me or comment below.

The good news is, after refining my practice over time, the steps to managing fun projects come much more naturally now! And it will become second nature to you, too. If I can spare you any pain in your process, then this will all be worth it!

Next, I’m going to deep dive into the fundamentals for a fun project’s success. As you will see, some projects in my blog will be more challenging than others. Get inspired to push past your self-inflicted boundary of what you can and cannot do. When you pull off something awesome inspired by the Memory in the Making blog, you’re going to have such a great time you’re going to become addicted to making memories!

Where I Apply My Project Management Experience

There are plenty of ways to make lifelong memories. You can design them for yourself, your husband, your kids, your family, or your friends. The memories I focus on creating with this blog, Memory in the Making, fall into four main categories:

Keep in mind, not all fun memories require this level of project management. Some of the inspiration you will find on my Memory in the Making blog will be quick and easy to execute, such as a date night. Others will require much more planning in advance, like Christmas tradition activities. Some cost a lot more than others, like a family vacation to Hawaii. And some require a lot of help from others to support you while you coordinate food, decorations, kid’s activities and get the house ready for a big group summer BBQ party. Now, I’ll dive in.

How I Apply My Corporate Project Management Skills to Create Fun Memories

If the fun occasion requires forethought and preparation to make it a success, I call that a project.

According to Project Management Institute, a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.” Temporary meaning that a project has a clear beginning and end.

As published by kissflow, a major corporate “Work Platform” application, there are 12 basic principles for project management.

  • Save
12 Basic Principles of Project Management from kissflow

Start with your “Why”

If you’re lucky enough to work with other great leaders, before your project even gets to the point of project management, you had to convince them of Why. Why should the company do this, before that? What’s the ROI? Etc.

In  our case, you’re the CEO and entire C-Suite of your own life. You set your own priorities and should run your ideas through your own filter before you proceed. Follow your intuition. This would sound something like:

  • Do I really want to dedicate my time and money into this (vacation) if we then can’t afford to put in the swimming pool we’ve been talking about for years?
  • Should I throw this party for a big group or would that money be better spent taking each of my kids on a date or a night away with my husband?

Now consider this. Your husband is on your team for this project. You’re not his boss. And maybe it’s best to think of him as an independent contractor because he owns his own “company” and life priorities. As for the kids, they are your interns! 😊 Once you feel your idea is ready to develop into a project, here is how I would apply this corporate project management framework.

This is the most important step, followed closely by having a great f***king time!!

The 12 Principles of Project Management

The 12 principles are outlined below. They have been reframed and interpreted by me, for our purposes. I will also provide some examples to add context. To follow will be a brief overview of my new 14 Principles of Personal Project Management that you can use to plan a year’s worth of fun!

1. Have well-defined project goals and objectives

Making the time to create extra special memories requires a lot of intentionality. Surely, your fun project ultimately has an end goal.

Let’s use an example. A goal of yours could be to establish family holiday traditions that you and your kids will enjoy and remember forever.

Goals need to be realistic, clear and measurable, according to these 12 principles. So before you continue, ask yourself some questions like these to outline your goal:

  • Can I accomplish this memorable project with my available time and resources?
  • Do I know all what will be involved in this project?
  • Will others understand what will be required of them?
  • In what ways can check in on my progress to ensure I’ll be ready by the holidays?
  • When all is said and done, how will I know I should appreciate my hard work?
2. Define your deliverables

For our purposes, deliverables means our occasion and the activities incorporated.

Let’s continue our example. For your holiday tradition, you want to create a Countdown to Christmas daily activity schedule that the kids can open up each morning. Then also a list of those daily activities.

3. Work to create and maintain organizational alignment

As the project manager, you need to leverage your family or friend’s support. Everyone needs to work together for this project to be a success.

4. have clear team roles and responsibilities

Without clear communication, you will end up extremely frustrated that your labor of love is being met with such resistance. Set yourself up to avoid an argument.

Example continued. You know very well your husband lacks the creativity involved to help you in that aspect. And it’s not his personal project, so he’s not going to fully visualize your plan nor manage the coordination of it. He is however phenomenal at stepping up his game with the kids and holding the fort together. If you are clear up front, he sees how excited you are and he buys into the idea, he’ll probably happily do his part.

On the contrary, if you don’t communicate upfront and stop doing your typical household duties, he’ll probably get pissed! Even after you explain that you’ve been working on an awesome project for everyone’s benefit, it will already be too late. **Trust me on this one! I’ve made this mistake MANY times over the years!

5. create a strategy for initiation and execution

This step is made up of two parts: initiation and execution.

The initiation component is your pre-work, such as:

  • Do your research
  • Jot down an outline of your fun ideas
  • Determine the feasibility of this project happening
  • Build a case about why your project is worthwhile
  • Involve your project’s participants

The execution component is what corporate folks would call a project “kick off meeting”. If this idea is important to you, now’s your time to shine!

During this step, you will “sell” your team (your husband, in this case) on the idea of you managing this large project. Get him pumped up about it! And don’t forget to be to be very clear about what it’s going to take to get this job done together.

Feel like this is too over your head? DON’T WORRY! In a coming post, I will cover how a full-time working mama can avoid biting off more than she can chew to pull off planning something AWESOME! Follow me on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook to be notified once it’s posted.

6. know your numbers

Every project manager, team member, and project has limited resources:

  • Time
  • Budget

You must consider everything going on in your life. And I really mean this:

It is critical that you be realistic and give yourself grace.

You may really, really, really want to do start this tradition this year. But it could have the worst timing, creating unintended consequences. In attempt to create extraordinary memories, you:

  • become so exhausted and irritable your kids feel neglected and upset,
  • your husband is so distracted he can’t focus on his huge goal and becomes resentful, or
  • overspend on this project causing marital tension.
7. Identify priorities and milestones ahead of time

Your heart told you what to prioritize. The idea achieves your goal. And your team is ready to go! Next, it’s time to establish milestones to guide how you weave your project’s priorities into your daily tasks.

The amount of runway you’ve given yourself to work on the project is your timeline. The milestones are the major check-points. Naturally, tasks are going to have dependencies on others, so create your schedule accordingly.

A clear check-point sounds something like this:

  • With one week before December 1st, in a perfect world, I’d like to have X, Y and Z ready to go with only 2 little things to finish up that week.

Without having that forethought, you can get yourself into a pickle. You’re human, so it’s natural you will gravitate towards your strengths/what you think will be the most fun part of the project. But beware, this can eat up your time resources and cause you to neglect a more important or timely part of the project.

In continuing our example, you spend 3 hours in Hobby Lobby when you were supposed to only look for one thing for your project. Not realizing it, you missed the ticket sales for a Santa brunch and now it’s sold out. That day was crucial to making your schedule work. Now you need to spend a ton of time calling around to find out what other venues are hosting brunch on that same day OR rework the entire calendar for the rest of the daily activities…ugh. (Good luck! I’ve been there before! Not fun.)

Set self check-in, “am I on schedule?” reminders.

8. establish a means of accountability and responsibility

I doubt there’s a single husband out there that enjoys being micro-managed. Lemme tell ya… talk about a fast track to the doghouse!

Establish a centralized location to keep track of your To Do List. Someplace you can both see it and hold yourselves accountable.

Engage him in the process and encourage him to write out his own list of what he feels needs to get completed. He’s probably thinking of something else that you weren’t, which is a bonus. But also, it will remind you this isn’t the only thing going on in your lives right now. It may be a reality check for your own check list. Now you have to add a few things back on your list. Suck it up and skip a night or two of streaming your favorite show.

At this point, you’re probably pot committed to completing this project. Don’t shirk your responsibility. This is after all, your project and you’re the one who needs to keep accountable.

9. Create a communication plan

I don’t know about you, but if I send my husband 3 text messages in a row, each with its own question, he will only answer one of them. It has gotten much better thanks to the iMessage reactions and reply threads though, thank goodness!

But, I’m sure you agree that keeping track of a long project across text messages isn’t ideal. You’re going to overlook things, forget about them, or spend an 15 minutes scrolling up to find something.

Again, find what works best for you both. Some ideas to combat text message fatigue are:

  • Have a weekly check-in meeting (i.e. Saturday morning over coffee)
  • At the end of the day, scroll back through your text messages and see if anything was missed or needs to be added to your shared To Do List
10. Be transparent

Transparency sounds too bossy in household context, to me. I like to think of this more as accessibility.

Here are some shared To Do List options:

  • A dry erase board on the kitchen counter
  • A shared digital notebook app (i.e. Apple notes, Evernote, Notability)
  • Having Siri setup a lot of Reminder notifications
  • A shared Google calendar (or multiple shared calendars to keep organized if you have an intense schedule like we do!)
  • A more sophisticated project management app (i.e. Monday.com, Asana)

We use a combination in our house. Links to my personal fav’s. Find whatever works best for you guys!

11. Do a risk assessment

A risk assessment is a fancy way of saying acknowledging something can go wrong.

Remember when you were selling him on the idea of the project in the beginning? He may have communicated some fears at that point. Or it was too much to digest at that time and you need come back to it now that the wheels are in motion. A great time to do this is while chatting at your weekly coffee check-in. Here’s an example:

Are you getting worn out by that end of quarter/end of year project at work? Need to scale back your grand plan a bit? DO IT! Your kids have no idea that it was supposed to be “even cooler”, they’re just going to be happy that you’re focusing on them and having a great time.

Give yourself grace. Give your husband grace.

12. Monitor and measure progress

Here come the good ‘ol corporate KPIs… LOL. Again, makes me barf in the context of fun projects!

The purpose of this principle is to know when to celebrate your success!

You’ve earned it. Take a load off, grab that dark chocolate bar, a glass of wine and kick your feet up!

developed by memory in the making

The 14 Fundamentals of
Personal Project Management


Hopefully, I have refreshed or broadened your awareness of these 12 principles for corporate project management. Most importantly, I’m adding 2 that are the most important, to complete my new list of The 14 Fundamentals of Personal Project Management for planning fun, lifelong memories! In summary, here are the key takeaways:

  • 1. Find your “Why” and run it through your priority filter.
  • 2. Does your project pass the reality sniff test?
  • 3. Define the occasion to avoid tangents.
  • 4. Work together!
  • 5. Avoid arguments with clear upfront communication.
  • 6. Dream up the key fun points and sell your idea!
  • 7. Reality check your limited resources: time and budget.
  • 8. Set self check-in, “am I on schedule?” reminders.
  • 9. Don’t micro-manage your way into an argument!
  • 10. Combat text message fatigue with communication plan.
  • 11. Keep your To Do List accessible to everyone.
  • 12. Know what can go wrong and be prepared to call an audible.
  • 13. Reward yourself and show gratitude to others for accomplishments!
  • 14. Have a great f***ing time!!!

Save this Pin now to come back to it later!

From 30,000 Feet (LMAO – Corporate Joke Intended)

If 14 steps seem 13 too many for you that’s OK. If you do nothing else but the first fundamental after reading this, I’ve achieved my mission.

I’d be remiss to end our meeting without action items, ha!

  1. What you say no to is arguably more important than what you say yes to. Take some quiet time to find your Why. Then, prioritize.
  2. If this resonated with you, please comment below or reach out.
  3. Subscribe to my newsletter (coming soon!) to keep up with the latest and enjoy early subscriber perks!

I’m so glad I came across this TED Talk by Catherine Price on “Why Having Fun is the Secret to a Healthier Life”. Great stuff!

If you enjoyed the video, visit Catherine Price’s website and take the Fun Personality Quiz. Big shocker, my fun personality is a “Fun Organizer”.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that if you click through & make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

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