Everybody has projects. It's an inescapable fact of life in the 21st century. Whether you are a working mother, a small business owner, a manager, a student, a stay at home Dad, an artist, or a teacher, you've got projects. Projects require you to approach a goal in a series of steps, sometimes on your own, and sometimes with the assistance of others. You need to be able to manage your steps in a smart way, you need to know what you need to do next, and you need to be able to followup on tasks you've delegated to others.
One simple way to approach project management is to first of all accept that having a ton of projects going on can be overwhelming. There's no way around this, and it's okay to feel anxiety at the prospect of all you need to get done. The good news is that once you lay out what your actions need to be, you can take them one bite at a time and before you know it you'll be crossing the finish line.
1. First of all, on one sheet of paper make a list of all the broad roles in which you and others see yourself. Mine would be son/brother, boyfriend, writer, tv producer, friend. Then under each of these roles quickly make a list of each project you have going on in that role. For instance, under writer I would have - EZinearticles, Blog, Farmgirl, Flip-Flop, and Flight 347. These are all the writing projects I have actively going on right now. Note that any projects you are thinking about doing, but aren't actually committed to working on right now, should go on a “someday" list, not this list.
2. Now take a stack of blank paper, or a notebook, or whatever you want to use as your project reference materials. At the top of each sheet of paper write the name of the project in big capital letters. For instance, I would have a sheet that said “Farmgirl" at the top, another that said “Blog", another that said “Flight 347" and so on. Do this for all your projects in all your roles.
3. Now staple your sheets together if they are loose (with the roles/project overview sheet on top), or if they are in a spiral notebook or pocket diary you've already got them together. Each morning take a look through each of these pages, highlight or star the tasks you plan to do that day, and do them. Don't pick more than ten or twelve tasks a day (use your judgment) so if one project is very high priority, you are going to pick most of your tasks there. If your projects are all the same priority, you are going to have judiciously choose what you get done from each one.
4. You might bang out all ten tasks in three hours, if so then go through your lists again and pick another ten. In the evening go through your lists and cross out everything you got done. That's it. If you have a new project come up, add it to your top sheet and make a new project sheet that you add to the stack.
5. If all of your projects are super high priority and you've got 50 things you need to do today, you've got two options. Number one, and the one I recommend, is to figure out which projects you can delay until another time in your life. Seriously. Number two, and the one that is probably more realistic, is that you are going to have to delegate some tasks to family, friends, or co-workers. Beg, plead, demand, and then write the name and date of who and when you delegated to next to the task. Followup with them the next day.
You can also make a “today list" of all the things you've highlighted from each project page (ten or twelve tasks) if you want them all in front of you at once.
Good luck, and check out more ideas (and subsribe via email or RSS) over at www.JerryKolber.com
Jerry Kolber has produced and co-executive produced television shows and films including Bravo's “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy", A&E's “Inked", and E!'s “Gastineau Girls". At http://www.JerryKolber.com he offers commentary on the rapidly shifting media landscape from an insider's perspective, articles on creativity and producitivity, and an ongoing discussion on how media relates to sustainibility, consumption, community and mindfulness.