I have often been mistaken as a person who is very organized, detail oriented, and a go getter. While I agree that I can run a project (and run it well), I have never thought of myself as an ‘organized’ person – at least not innately. I’m sure my wife would agree with me on this. The fact is, it is in my nature to be terribly unorganized. Truly. When I was in college I had a filing system to keep up with all of my class assignments, homework, etc. It consisted of a single file folder that I kept in my backpack. Whatever I received (regardless of which class it came from) went into this file. My thought was, ‘It’s in the file – so now it won’t get lost.’ I can’t not even begin to tell you how much time I spent sorting and resorting papers. It’s embarrassing to share this, but it’s true. I inherently have chaotic tendencies where organization is concerned.
Mark Off Items That Don’t Matter or Aren’t essential
Time is limited, no matter now you slice it. Unless you are Marty McFly, whatever time management strategy you implement it won’t actually give you more time. There will ALWAYS be more tasks to do than time allows so it’s up to you to decide which are most important and which don’t really matter (at least, not for today). When we choose a task we are simultaneously choosing what isn’t going to get done. We tend to think more on what needs to get done, but realizing what does NOT need to get done is just as important. Not all e-mails are urgent and some may not really need a response from you. A lot of the things that bombard our attention may seem urgent, but if they aren’t important (particularly in terms of the project) then it’s up to you to take a breath and keep addressing those tasks that are essential.
Unless I hear differently…
These four words are incredible for keeping things moving. Have you ever tried to make a difficult decision with a group of people and felt like you left the conversation still waiting for someone to make a decision? It’s easy to get swept up in the details of difficult problems and not take practical steps toward a solution. This phrase is especially helpful in e-mail discussions. Progress can keep going by just adding these four words, “Unless I hear differently, I am going to start on “Solution B” tomorrow morning.” This lets everyone know what next step you are taking while also giving them an opportunity to interject if they feel it’s necessary.
Nail down the 4W’s – Who, What, When, Where
Whatever is discussed, if there is a decision or task that is to be done then nail down the 4 W’s
- Who is responsible for this task/decision?
- What exactly needs to be decided/done?
- When does it need to be completed?
- Where does that decision/task need to be taken next when it’s completed?
Review the main goal often
Write Lists & Check 'Em Off
I’ll be honest, I stole this one from one of my coworkers, who happens to be one of the most productive people I have ever met. Everyday she is never without her yellow notepad so that she can add a new task at the drop of the hat. My favorite is that she also writes in a checkbox beside each task so she can have the satisfaction of checking off the task. I have since adopted her system and it’s crazy how often I refer to this list to keep me on track. When you are managing a project there are so many different items that float around in your head; this gives you an outlet to free up some brain space. At the end of the day I review what I accomplished and what I didn’t. Those items that didn’t get done go on a new list for the next day. Easy breezy.
Got any tips for project management? I would love to hear ‘em. And if reading this inspires you to work with us on your web project, check out our services or give us a call.
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.