Keeping track of projects is a skill. It’s a taught and learned skill. Project managers, who have trained and tested and certified in this, are paid big bucks. Keeping track of it all and doing it well matters. As an entrepreneur and freelance writer, I’ve had to adapt systems to what works best for me. Here are the four ways I do it and a brief summary of each.
- Kanban board: For running a household, I have a Kanban board. I wrote about what it took to set it up on my personal blog: “Our family Kanban board–what happens when mom was a CSM in her previous life.” I expanded on it and wrote about the benefits of using a similar board for entrepreneurs for HER Magazine: “Creating a Kanban board for entrepreneurs.” It’s always a work-in-progress and adjustment. I’ve been working on updating it with the ability to include my five-year old in using it with us. We’ll see how well that works and make changes from there! For details on what it is and why I use it, you’ll have to click on my links above!
- Editorial calendar: I have a good-ol’ paper calendar hanging on the wall right above my monitor. On it, I write down the ideas I’d like to post on for my personal blogs. I’ll admit that I’m not consistent and with only myself to hold ME accountable, I miss “publishing deadlines”. This is certainly one of my weak spots!
- Scheduling tasks as calendar items: I no longer use to-do lists. Checking off the box didn’t help me stay on task, but my new system has worked a thousand times better. I schedule specifically what task I’m going to work on as a time block on my calendar. I live and die by my Google Calendar. I use it to keep track of family appointments, bills and direct deposits, and writing work. If I have an email I need to respond to, I schedule it on my calendar. If I have an article I need to edit, I schedule it on my calendar. When I’m working on content creation, it’s a block on my calendar! I have set times each day where I work (based around my kids’ schedules), so I try to schedule these work “appointments” during those times a day or two out. That way, when I sit down at my computer, I know exactly what I’m going to do first. Unless Social Media butts in!
- Trello boards: For both collaboration and my solo work, I use Trello boards. These are similar to Kanban boards, but hosted online. It’s all about the cloud these days, yo. It’s a great way to organize tasks and keep track of whether those tasks are in progress, finished, researching, etc. There are a bunch of awesome ways to set up Trello boards for a variety of projects. I submitted a proposal to present at a writing conference on this, but they didn’t choose it. In the future, I’ll put together an overview in a blog post. Here are my five ways to use them: tracking submissions; brainstorming board; as an editorial calendar; planning a book launch; organizing research.
These are the ways that I try to be organized. It’s always an attempt, right? But just remember this excellent quote: “Organized people are just too lazy to look for things.” Thanks for that, Bertrand Russel.
How do you organize your work? What’s your favorite system?