Blog: Can We Have Some Order Here?
Project Mangement Tools
Staying on top of projects both large and small is much easier when you have the right supplies. You need a place to store your stuff and a way to keep track of it -- so there are really four key categories of organizers you should have on hand for any project, be it personal or business.
Whether you're shopping for life insurance or remodeling your living room, planning a conference, or preparing next year's budget -- the one thing you can count on with any project is paper! So the first step to a successful project is getting your files in order.
Your system doesn't have to be complicated -- just a series of folders, an accordion file, classification file, or set of expandable wallets is fine. If the project is small, everything can go into one file -- for larger tasks, break your paperwork out into logical categories, one per folder. For example, hiring a new assistant might include files for "advertising", "applications", "interviews", "references", etc. -- or even a separate section for each prospective employee. Just remember that project files are temporary -- they will only be used until the project is completed. So get organizers that can be re-purposed, with lots of extra labels!
The files you set up for short-term projects do not need to be incorporated into your regular paper management system -- they are not long-term reference files, and should be stored separately. Treat these documents more like "to-do" files -- your goal is to give them a home until the project is complete, then they will be archived away or tossed. So assign a drawer, section of a drawer, rack, hanging file box, or document sorter for your project paperwork, and store everything in this one location. Of course, the best possible project organizing system is portable -- so you can take it with you to meetings, presentations, shopping for supplies, and to all project-related activities. An expandable accordion file with a cover flap or a file box with a lid are two great options.
And if you are engaged in a project that involves more than just paper, you might need a bigger and more expandable storage solution. Larger project tools may require a banker's box or a plastic tub with a lid. For example -- when remodeling your office, you might need to store flooring and wallpaper swatches, paint brushes, and hardware. If you're considering a new vendor or product line, you want a place to keep your samples. And even storing books or binders of information for your project is easier with a good, sturdy box (you can't easily put these in a file folder!) Give yourself as much room as you need, and don't forget to clearly label the outside of the box.
Finally, with any project, you need a way to keep track of your progress. Calendars and planners are fine for day-to-day appointments, but an ongoing project really requires a more visual method if you don't want to find tasks slipping through the cracks.
The most effective solution is a dry erase board dedicated to either one project or one phase of a project. List out your steps and the deadlines for each, participants and their individual responsibilities, general to-do's, supplies and resources you need to gather -- whatever makes sense for your particular project. Completed items can be marked off, and the entire board can be reformatted for the next project as needed. The specifics of the system don't matter, but you want to be able to see at a glance where you stand and what remains to be done -- it makes follow-up much easier.
Of course, you can put anything you want on a wipe-off board, but that doesn't guarantee that task will actually be completed. The trick to seeing your project through to the end is using a two-part approach. First, plan out the big picture, the large milestones and deadlines, on your dry erase board. Then, transfer those action items to your calendar -- noting deadlines and blocking off chunks of time to work on each step. By planning on both the macro and micro levels, you are setting yourself up for success with every project.
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posted on: 2/17/2011 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips
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Can We Have Some Order Here?
by Ramona Creel
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I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!
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