It's easier than you might think to manage short- or long-term projects. Oh, I can hear the maniacal laughter coming through the ethers, but believe me, it's true! All it takes is organizational skills. Well, OK, organizational skills and time management. But anyone can do it if you get organized!
Think about your project - is it a series of tasks taking place over a period of time? Is it a one-time event with several aspects to manage? Who is involved? What is the timeline? (This is probably the most important part - write down the deadlines for each stage of planning.) Once you have the details written down, it's time to enter them into a spreadsheet. Excel has several templates you may want to look at (click on File/New and search on Project), you can use one I created, or create your own. Create columns titled with each category you're tracking. For example, contact information for the people involved, date of initial contact, date of followup, date of their response, what the response is, date final sent to person, etc. The columns for which you are responsible should contain the date ranges for the tasks you have to take care of. For instance, a column might say "initial email 10/1-10/7" and then the dates each email is sent in the column below that title.
As the project goes along, it's vital to keep the spreadsheet updated every single day. If you lose track of whether you talked to Joe Gomez about the catering, or whether Shelly Carroll called you back about your email, you might find yourself floundering. When I'm working on a project, I keep the spreadsheet open the entire time I'm working, and enter data every time something changes. Yes, it seems anal, and that's how I manage projects, but believe me, this kind of careful record-keeping is key to a successful and organized project. And key to sanity as well!
Another aspect to keep in mind is communication. If others are working on a project with you, be sure to categorize them as "need to know only," "decision maker," "partner," etc., and communicate regularly as needed for each of these roles. I've been on many projects in my career where a change was made that affected my work yet I was not told. Don't be that person! And expect communication from your staff in return. I communicate with my client often about the status of our project and where we stand.
I hope that this basic guide will get you started on ideas to simplify the next project you work on. If you find yourself overwhelmed, of course, I know a GREAT project management resource you can call on - Holly@LightseedsOffice.com!
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