Five Project Management Skills Every Academic Needs to Know

by | Feb 14, 2019 | academic project management, resources

The very nature of academic work means that we have to juggle. The three pillars of our work–research, teaching, and service–outline a daily working life where we are pulled in at least as many directions (though in reality, it is many more).

Because of this, professors need to be project managers. But we rarely think of writing an academic article or designing a new course as a “project.” It certainly is, though, and because of that we could learn something from the world of project management.

Here are five project management skills that would go a long way to help us manage our academic lives better. Which one of these have you mastered?

Skill #1: Reverse engineering a project timeline

This seems straightforward. Just put the end date of when the project is due, and then work backwards. But of course, developing this skill is a bit more complicated than that, and hooked rather closely to skill #2.


Skill #2: Breaking projects into tasks

We get so many questions about this! This is definitely a skill that you hone over time. There is no one exact right “size” to a task. You need to work on figuring this out. In our Navigate program, we dig deep into this valuable skill. 


Skill #3: Scheduling multiple simultaneous projects

The. Story. Of. My. Life. (amIright?) The nature of academic work requires simultaneous projects. Scheduling them and getting them finished can be helped along by using sprint techniques and time blocking. You definitely need a system that works with your project management software and your calendar in order to be a master of this skill.


Skill #4: Estimating time to task

The only one who can tell you how long it takes to get a task done is you. In Navigate, I suggest practicing different ways to estimate time-to-task, all the while being reflective on this process. Again, the more you do this, the better you’ll get at it.


Skill #5: Using templates and workflows

Templates and workflows will save you SO much time! Templates stop wheel-spinning by making sure you never start with a blank page. Workflows are just a pre-established pattern of steps to take in order to work on a project. You’ll need to create both (we teach you how inside Navigate).

You will find that as you focus on these skills you will save time and feel less stressed. But they do take development, which means you’ll need to put time and energy into them up front. To learn how, check out my Navigate program. Our next cohort is enrolling soon!


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