I lead seminars at companies and conferences. When not quarantined, that is. I love public speaking and miss it greatly right now.


One of my most popular seminars is Project Management for Regular Folks. I’ve been teaching that course since 2016 because I believe that, while not all of us are project managers by trade or title, we all have projects to manage.


On last week’s blog post (the one where I bared my soul on how NOT OKAY I felt), I received this comment…


Additionally, there is a popular article on Medium.com by Julio Vincent Gambuto entitled, Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting. Gambuto’s article (not incorrectly) assumes that we will all be so happy to re-enter our “normal” lives that we are going to be more-than-usually susceptible to manipulation from brands and media messaging.


Couple Janet’s comment with Gambuto’s dire warnings, and I started thinking…


Project Management!!


Makes sense, right?


In the late 1990s, I was managing lots of projects in my career. I was not managing people yet and many of my projects had a project team of one: me.


In my first real job, the project for which I was hired was to develop, deploy, analyze, and report the annual employee feedback survey. Through this recurring project, I learned about documentation, organization, task management, and…Lessons Learned reports.


Throughout the entire project, I kept a word doc entitled “Lessons Learned from Employee Feedback Survey 199_” and updated it with bullet points throughout the entire three-month project.


The following year, when it was survey time again, the first document I pulled off the network drive was the Lessons Learned report from the prior year.


What is a Lessons Learned report?


According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), a Lessons Learned repository captures the following:


  • The learning that occurs on every project
  • Our own project-based learning experiences
  • Lessons we observed others learn


Additionally, both the PMI and my experience dictate that Lessons Learned must be captured while the project is underway. If you wait until the end of the project, your memory will notoriously filter out some important details that you learned.


Lessons Learned repositories help us remember the good things we would like to repeat and the bad things we’d like to avoid in the future.


One of the biggest cognitive traps that brings my coaching clients to me for help is the thought that “I’ll surely remember that. I don’t need to write it down.”


In my book, Corral Your To-Dos…and don’t rely on your brain – at all, it’s clear from the title that my opinion on that subject is that our memories are lousy.


So, don’t rely on your brain in this instance either.


Once the stay-at-home orders are lifted, our (understandable) euphoria may erase the lessons we learned about ourselves, our families, and the world during this difficult time.


Whether through gaslighting or normal cognitive heuristics, we are going to forget or numb our memories to make this experience more palatable in hindsight.


If you have changed, or your perspective on the world has changed during this time of isolation, take time to make note of that before quarantine ends.


Because, I promise, your brain is going to want to let those memories go as soon as possible.


Make your own “Lessons Learned from Coronavirus Quarantine 2020” document. Fill it with bullet points. What made you happy? What made you sad? What, if anything, would you have done differently? What did you see happening in the world? What positive lessons do you think we should carry forward?


Janet Schiesl’s Lessons Learned report may help her construct her retirement plans.


My Lessons Learned report will include how important writing is to me.


What will yours be?


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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at getproductive@melissagratias.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.