How to Learn Project Management

A few years ago I began studying project management. It was one of the things which has most helped me out in working online. It turns out there are huge similarities between how we work online and what professional project management teaches. But most people who work online do it in an unorganized, unstructured manner and aren’t very effective as a result. Some time spent studying project management will give you some insights into both little and big things which make a big difference towards your effectiveness online.

This stuff works – I was the guy who told Rich Schefren about it after I began learning it. He was initially quite skeptical. Then a few months later he began teaching it in his training programs. As of lately it appears that the theory of constraints has become a core part of his business – and theory of constraints is directly from Project Management. Rich – tell me if I’m wrong, but I think this has had a big impact on your business?

The core training for project management is called the PMP, or Project Management Professional. They have a book called the PMBOK, which is updated every year. In actual practice the PMBOK is not very useful; its written like a guide for rocket scientists, not people who want to learn how to manage projects. In addition, IMHO, the PMP goes a litlte further than it needs to as well. But its a great foundation to learn reasonable well.

So my approach was to study for the PMP exam as if I would take it, but not bother to actually do it (I don’t care if anyone thinks I am a PMP certified guy, I just wanted the results!).

Here’s how I would suggest you do it:

1. Get a coach from You can find amazing people for $25/hr who want to learn to work online and want some extra income. One guy I had was a PMP certified guy from HP’s printer division. The other I had was finishing his doctorate from GWU and was a full time project manager for a software company. Between the two of them I got differing opinions on how things should be done. Both taught me a huge amount and it was tremendously helpful. And while i didn’t pay a lot of money, the guy from GWU learned from what I was doing and now runs his own internet project managemnt business from Bolivia. 🙂

2. Get these two books:
a) PMP: Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide by Kim Heldman
b) PMP Exam Prep, Fifth Edition: Rita’s Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam (Paperback) by Rita Mulcahy

You use Rita’s book as the exam text – you need to be able to answer all the questions from her book. And use the study guide to learn how to answer them. It may be useful to have the PMBOK as well to learn from, but its not critical. It may be useful to pick up a couple of other books as well just to round out your knowledge.

One thing I did which turned out not to be useful – I tried learning how to use MS project; my idea was to become an expert at MS Project and then I would be able to manage projects. I didn’t listen to the people who told me that MS project didn’t matter and it was all about the fundamentals. It turns out they were right. Now, several years later, I don’t use MS Project because its too complex. I use programs which are more lightweight.

I spent several months on this fairly intensively and its paid off bigtime. You gain massive leverage over everything you’re doing because you can get your work done faster and more efficiently.