The Project Management Blues

I spoke for the Project Management Institute of LA last week. Topic: Cloud-based Project Management Strategies and Tools.

I include music in many of my presentations. The morning of the presentation, I decided to write a Project Management related song. Below is what I ended up with. You can get the presentation slides on my original blog post.

Listen below or download here. Lyrics are below the player.

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Building Your I.T. Career by Matthew Moran

Speaking Event – Why IT in Wisconsin

The Value-added Technologist

I’ll be traveling to Wisconsin (brrr) later this month to keynote the Why IT? Conference! My keynote is: The Value-added Technologist. I discuss career advice and the need for IT professionals to think of their jobs from the perspective of the value they bring their employer.

The event is hosted by Moraine Park Technical College and Waukesha County Technical College.Continue reading

Time and Task Management Part 3 using Google Calendar

Time and Task Management – Part 3 – Google Calendar

In Part 1 I discussed some basic concepts of time and task management. In Part 2 I introduced a couple of specific time management systems. Part 3 is where we get down and dirty. I’m going to show you specifically my system using Google Calendar.

Time and Task Management  Part 3 using Google Calendar

Remember, I started with with the premise that “The System” does not exist but “a system” is critical.

This is not negotiable. No system = no management. Even an imperfect system (which accounts for all of them) is better than no system. In fact, you will learn a lot implementing any system and, if you are like me, you will modify that system over time anyway.

FYI: This is a tacit admission that my system is IMPERFECT! I know, hard to believe.

Introducing Google or SIGN UP NOW!!!

I’m a bit of a Google fanatic. Gmail isn’t pretty, but it’s effective. Google Calendar is NOT perfect – but it’s online, accessible, and integrates with everything and everywhere. Google Drive and Apps have fewer features than Microsoft Office.… and that may be a good thing.

In fact, simplicity is the key to good time and task management.

I’m going to cover some of the ways I manage time and task using Google calendar. Most can be adopted by any calendaring system, although there are some features of Google Calendar worth mentioning.

How to Get Google Calendar

Sign-up for a Gmail account/Google account. Use the “sign-in” button in the upper right. When you go to the sign-in page, below the username and password fields, there will be a “create an account” link.

TIP: Don’t be too cute when you select your username. Your Gmail account is tied to all sorts of things like YouTube and your Google profile. or may not be your best options…. just sayin’

Your Google (Gmail) account gives you access to a variety of Google services – all are accessible on the web (Cloud based). Of special importance are:

  • Gmail – email, tons of storage, filtering, etc.
  • Google Calendar – shared/collaborative calendars
  • Google Drive – shared/collaborative applications, documents and file storage – like Dropbox but better
  • Google Keep – quick notes, lists, audio, and images
  • Google Alerts – notifications to  your email when key terms are indexed by Google
  • Google Analytics – track website visitors and traffic
  • Google Maps – navigation
  • Google Plus – poorly designed social media
  • Google Hangouts – video conferencing
  • YouTube – video

I could go on, but suffice to say, there is a lot. It’s worth the FREE you pay for it and then some.

Navigating to Your Google Calendar

Once you sign up for Google and get your Gmail account, there is a universal access menu to all things Google. In the upper right corner of your screen, you’ll see this “apps” icon:

Google Apps Icon


Click on the “apps” icon and you’ll be presented with the following screen. Note: you can customize this – I have, so what you see will be slightly different.

Google Applications

To get into Google Calendar, simply click the “Calendar” icon.

Some Quick Customizations for Google Calendar

I’m not going to show you the various parts of Google Calendar. Most of it is self-explanatory. However, there are some useful customizations and setup items.

Mobile Enable Your Calendar(s)

Your calendar can send you phone notifications. Specifically text (SMS) messages. This is extremely useful.

Go into your calendar “Settings” icon. That is the gear icon below your profile name (and picture, if you’ve added one) in the upper right hand corner.

Go into “mobile setup” and add your phone number. You’ll be sent a verification code via text message. Enter that in the box provided and voila! You can now add SMS reminders to any calendar appointments. I’ll explain how I use those a bit later.

Custom View – 4 Weeks

Above and to the right of your Google calendar are the “Views” available to you. They include: Day, Week, Month, 4 Days, and Agenda. I’ve highlighted 4 Days because that is actually customizable.

Go into the same “Settings” gear icon as above. Scroll down the “General” settings list and find, “Custom View.” Set it to whatever works for you. I’ll explain why I use “4 Weeks.”

I view my calendar most often in a “Week” view because I can still view and set appointments for specific times. I like to see my week laid out more so than a single day.

However, there are times I need to move appointments or tasks forward several weeks. This is made easier by customizing that view to a “4 Week” view. This is different than a “Month” view, because if I am in the last week of a month, I cannot drag appointments into the next month.

The video below explains it a bit better. View it full screen for greater clarity.


Enable Tasks

Ensure in the left-hand column under, “My Calendars” that you click on “Tasks” to enable the tasks component of Google Calendar. There is some confusion surrounding this. I know some people setup Google Calendar and it is enabled. Other times it isn’t.

Also, you can assign different colors to your calendar(s) and tasks.

I’ll explain tasks in a moment and I’ll explain how and why I use multiple calendars as well.

Default Reminders

This is an important customization that you can do on a calendar-by-calendar basis. For me, I like my calendar to send me text message/SMS notification. I establish two default SMS notifications.

  • 20 minutes prior
  • 2 minutes prior

However, you can set your reminder to be an email 1 hour prior, an email a week prior, etc. You can also set “popups” – which pop-up when you have the calendar open or pop-up on your phone.

To Set Your Default Reminders

  • Go to the “Settings” gear icon
  • Select the “Calendars” tab
  • To the right of the calendar name, select, “Reminders and notifications”
  • Set your reminders and press “Save”

Tasks Versus Appointments

Google Calendar has both appointments and a special task calendar. I’ll be the first to admit, their task management is basic. While you can share your calendars, you cannot share tasks.

Appointments are either events with a specific start and stop time or all-day events. They can be set to repeat at specific intervals – daily, weekly monthly, every other week, etc.

Tasks are non-time specific items that only appear on the day they are set. They cannot be shared and they don’t (currently) have reminders. They are a simple to-do list for a given day.

My System for Calendar Management

I’m going to include a short video below. But, in general, here are some of the things I do with Google Calendar:

  • Setup and Use Multiple Calendars
  • Preview Your Calendar
  • Preview & Review the Day
  • Review the Week

Use Multiple Calendars

I’m not covering the sharing aspect of Google Calendars in detail here. But…. you can share your calendar with multiple Gmail users. This is amazing for resource and team planning.

And in Google Calendar, you can see all your appointments side-by-side and simultaneously, color-coded by calendar.

But, I don’t want or need everyone I work with to have access to or to see my personal or main calendar. For this reason, I setup multiple calendars.

Organizing Multiple Calendars:

  • Main calendar: Shared with my manager.
  • Phone reminders: Shared with no one – sends me miscellaneous phone reminders I don’t want clogging my main calendar (for instance: today’s US world cup match – remind me to watch it).
  • Daughter: My daughter’s calendar. I want to know her schedule, when she is with her mom, or significant appointments – even those I am not attending. So, rather than creating an appointment on my calendar, I see it on a separate calendar.
  • Band calendar: Shared with musicians I play music with. Also shared with my manager and an occasional booking assistant.
  • Speaking calendar: Shared with my manager and an occasional booking assistant.

Once setup, I set their colors as desired. It really takes very little time and allows granular control over those teams I work with.

Preview Your Calendar (5-10 minutes)

Set an appointment. It can be Sunday night, Monday morning, etc. The optimal time is dependent upon your life, not on what I tell you. I set my preview for Sunday evening but often, family obligations and the scurry of the weekend actually pushes it to Monday.

However, I’m aware of this but I put a repeating calendar item on Sunday evening at 6pm.

During your preview, there are a couple of things you should do:

  • Review the week prior. Make sure tasks and appointments that were not completed are moved forward. Those that resulted in a “next” appointment or additional tasks are added to the calendar. (Note: in the best of situations, this should have already happened during a daily review or the Friday weekly review.)
  • Set key project work as an appointment. Set phone calls as either a) tasks on a given day or b) all day events on a special calendar. I use the special calendar (phone reminders) in order to remind myself to make a call at 9:10am for instance. I add the phone number I am calling into my appointment and set an SMS (text) reminder for 20 minutes prior and one for 2 minutes prior.When the reminder is sent to my phone, it comes in with a clickable link to dial the phone. That way, I’m not searching for the contact. This is more efficient and safer if you are driving, for instance.

Preview/Review the Day (5-10 minutes)

My first activity in the morning is…. to make coffee. But then, as I am drinking my coffee, I review my day. I make sure any rescheduled appointments and unfinished tasks from the day prior are moved forward to an appropriate day. I ensure time is blocked out for project work.

At the end of the day, I review that day – again, moving tasks and appointments forward as necessary.

NOTE: If I am doing this daily – regularly – I don’t have lots of tasks to move forward. But I include it here because part of making a system work is working the system.

Review the Week (5-10 minutes)

I don’t think I need to cover this much. I do this on Saturday morning or Friday night. It is typically an afterthought because my daily review/preview takes care of this. But prior to the week ending (Saturday evening for me), I like to have moved unfinished tasks and appointments forward into the new week.

Again, this is redundant because I’m going to do my Sunday evening/Monday morning preview as well. If I am taking care of things, this takes 5 minutes or less.

Google Calendar in Action

Here is a short video showing some of these concepts. Important – I use tasks to remind me to follow up with someone as well. For instance, when I send an important email, I will add a tasks – sometimes a week away – that asks me if they’ve responded.

Take a look at the video below. View it full screen for greater clarity.

The I.T. Job Seeker’s Song – from the past

I spoke for a employment support group last year and performed one of my newer songs – more of a “fixing life, moving forward” type of song. But with the release of my book and some upcoming speaking about career development, I thought it might be fun to revisit this gem..

Several years ago I gave a keynote address for McDonald’s I.T. group back in Chicago. On the flight over I turned to my wife and said, “I think I’ll open my keynote with song.”

“Which song,” she asked….nervously?

“I’m writing it now.”

This stressed her out a lot more than it stressed me out. I wrote the song on the flight to Chicago and the next morning performed it – with one slight, forget the lyrics, hiccup. Listen to the Chief Information Officer at the end.. “We need a recording of that.”

FYI: It is this sort of behavior that prompted one event organizer to suggest that I had, “Silicon Valley Knowledge with a Jimmy Buffett Attitude!”  – we like that!

The I.T. Job Seekers Song – go to youtube (lyrics below)

(Played slowly)The server crashed at 2pm as accounting ran financials
A blue screen buffer overflow the impact was substantial
I had hoped today, to have time to study for my certs
But the firewall is issuing exploit alerts

(quickly – high energy)
They wouldn’t sign for the disaster plan
I begged and pleaded when I spoke to them
But they just talked about a “fiscal year”
And now they want to get me out of here

I need a job where they respect my skill
Where every day is not a fire drill
Not asking for another dotcom craze
(spoken) Well, maybe a little of that dotcom pay

But what I’d really like is gratitude
Some recognition for the things I do
A team where we all take a turn at bat
Where can I find an IT job like that (dramatic pause)…
You deserve a break today, so submit your resume To McDonald’s…I’m Lovin’ It!
(I.T. that is)

12 Weeks to Profitable Consulting Webinar

A free webinar to help you start and build a consulting business
register by clicking image or following this link

I am finalizing chapter 27: 12 Weeks to Profitable Consulting, today. As such, I’ve been asked to conduct a webinar to teach people how to start a consulting business or how to make their consulting business more profitable.

Join me at 10am (Pacific Standard Time), Tuesday, September 25th, for a FREE webinar.


If you want to be a consultant… OR if you are a consultant and want to increase your fees and your sales, this webinar is for you.

Master Consultant, Business Strategist, & Author, Matthew Moran, provides both the strategy and the tools to help you grow a thriving and profitable consulting business.

From lead generation, expert positioning, and sales to tools to monitor and track your business, this webinar covers no-nonsense and time tested techniques to help you create a better, more sustainable, income stream.

Using tools and strategies covered in Chapter 27 of his upcoming book, “Building Your I.T. Career” (published by QUE), Matt will cover:

  • 8 Must-have tools to build right away
  • How to position yourself as an expert
  • Rapid Lead Generation
  • Creating Your Value-added Pitch
  • … and more….

Take control of your consulting business and make it profitable starting today!