There are tons of articles covering the best apps and software to use for project management, from Kanban lists to Gantt charts, time trackers, cloud apps, and hundreds of available tools and software. Here’s an exhaustive list of apps and tools. This article won’t really talk about which ‘it’ app to use, since 2018 may as well engender a new wave of technological breakthroughs – provided that a zombie apocalypse doesn’t take place in 2017. Jokes aside, this article attempts to highlight some principles of a growth-mindset that every project manager needs to implement in order to thrive and bring innovation in 2018. Here at Teamweek, we believe that the trend of “intelligence” will also carry on in 2018, and hopefully also balance between “artificial intelligence” (AI) and “emotional intelligence” (EQ).

Artificial Intelligence

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Using bots in project management is increasingly popular, so we predict that 2018 will experience an increase in AI technology and machine learning, hopefully, better at number crunching and project optimization. First, let’s dispel the fear and reticence concerning the use of AI and machine learning in project management. There’s no need to be scared of AI bots, since human judgment will become neither automated nor replaced by artificial intelligence. We are far away from a dystopian society where robots control our lives. You should think of AI bots as the working bees of the hive, doing the grunt work we had to do for the past millennia. We predict that 2018 will experience a boost in AI-assisted work through:

  • Process optimization. The legwork of collecting data and information that is so tedious and boring for us human beings. So, teams will make better decisions faster due to the efficiency of data-driven approaches.
  • Automation of simple tasks. AI bots are now in charge of tracking, monitoring and reporting on the simplest task that your team once used to be in charge of, from setting appointments, reminders, and notifications, to handling your to-do list.
  • Administrative input. With the help of metadata (that is ‘data about data’) and machine learning, bots will be able to understand your team’s strong and weak points and thus improve project performance by making suggestions and decisions. They can then make estimates, budgets, cuts, and even dabble in sprint management.
  • Time-saving approaches. By coordinating tasks, AI bots help project managers increase overall efficiency in their planning and strategies. Moreover, AI bots analyze a team’s habits and time spent on specific tasks in order to optimize the same processor task for the next time.
  • Risk identification and assessment. By analyzing the metadata, AI bots can make predictions of possible risks, failures, or weak points. Moreover, they assess such implications and feasible solutions.
  • Facilitated communication. Whenever AI-facilitated communication pops up, people immediately think of Bob and Alice, the two bots developed by Facebook, who have been scheming evil plans against humanity in their sinister and incomprehensible language before they were shut down. Joking aside, chatbots only use speech recognition patterns and data to make our mundane tasks easier. Fine examples are the chatbots employed by Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, and many more.

In a nutshell, the wave of AI might scare others, but it can lead to great progress, such as automation, optimization, reducing computational errors, factoring possibilities by analyzing metadata. Artificial intelligence is essential for us to tap into what we are going to discuss next.

Emotional Intelligence

Since our ‘working bees’ are now tackling more than 50% of our previous tasks and responsibilities, we can finally focus on the creative process and innovation that are exclusive to the human mind. Even more so in 2018, project managers will be able to focus on conflict resolution, devising ways of dealing with constructive criticism, developing a positive work environment, on diplomacy, and confidentiality issues. They will have the opportunity to focus more on their interpersonal skills, breaking language and cultural barriers. The project manager’s new focus and vision-driven leadership will definitely lead to better engagement and improve productivity, performance, and customer loyalty. In 2018, business won’t be much about profit as for credibility, reliability, public opinion, and creating that culture of engagement. Projects will be all about sustainability, eco-friendliness, and social responsibility.

For overall amazing project activities and outcomes, project managers need both insight and gut instinct, expertise and experimentation, in order to truly revolutionize and innovate. Here are seven hacks for better EQ performance:

  1. A positive mindset. Set “approach goals” rather than “avoidance goals”. Think enthusiastically about your job and your future reward instead of fearing undesirable outcomes, such as underperformance or job loss.
  2. Tackle procrastination. If you are habitually putting off work, one reason might be that the workload feels too much so your brain wants to escape it. Instead, break your task into smaller ones, and think that you have to finish them one baby step at a time. This is the rationale behind milestones, and here’s how you can use them to your advantage.
  3. Overcome perfectionism. Truth bomb: perfectionism is covert fear of failure. One of Silicon Valley’s attitudes towards innovation is embracing failure. There is no such thing as a perfect product or project, so just work day by day to improve it at least 1%. In time, this will alleviate the pressure of over-performance.
  4. Deal with the impostor syndrome. You’ve got so far! Congratulations! You think you have made it so far out of sheer luck? Think again. Nobody’s that lucky in life. Smart people assume they have achieved their goals because of anything else but their hard work or abilities. Paradoxically, that’s not a very smart idea to posit. So give yourself a break, and embrace your learning process towards self-improvement. We are all human beings learning and improving one day at a time.
  5. Get more sleep/rest. Whether you take a sabbatical/gap year to replenish your health and creative juices or take as little time off for a siesta or riposte, your body needs rest. Why not? You can take a nap at work (the Japanese practice of inemuri) or a much-needed French lunch break.
  6. Work shorter working days. Swedes experimented with a six-hour working day, to see whether there is a change in productivity and job satisfaction. Needless to say, there are only benefits to shorter work days, as mentioned in the article. The truth is, getting into that ‘flow’ state in which you ooze creativity and innovation is improbable to occur simply because you stay at work or work over time. That flow state happens when you are deeply engaged in something. Otherwise, it’s simply bad for productivity and overall sense of accomplishment and wellbeing. You being sleep-deprived will only make the people around you suffer. Not only will you feel like a zombie, but you’ll be grumpy, overly-critical, thus leading you to make mistakes.
  7. Moderation is key. If this next idea doesn’t change your mind, I don’t know what will. Overwork will eventually be the death of you. And we don’t mean just your creativity or social life. The Japanese have a word for ‘death by overworking’, and it’s called karōshi. We humans need to give our bodies the rest they deserve. Allow your AI ‘working bees’ to figure things out while you’re taking a nap at work (like the Japanese do, ironically).

In a nutshell, thanks to AI, project managers now have more time to strategize and collaborate. Plus, they get to tap into that ‘flow’ state by overcoming personal shortcomings, such as negativity, procrastination, perfectionism, impostor syndrome and overworking. We cannot stress how important sleep and rest are for the creative mind.

2018 will be a year of fascinating breakthroughs that promise to change it for the better. We believe that both AI and EQ are essential to the process of innovation. What is your prediction for 2018?

Andrei Tiburca

Andrei Tiburca

Andrei is a Growth Hacker on Teamweek's marketing team. He is the person behind most of Teamweek's SEO-driven projects, including the budget calculator and the worst productivity tips generator. He enjoys writing about project management, graphic design, and anything tech.
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