One of the most important skills in a Project Manager’s pocket is organization. Being able to successfully manage and keep track of projects, tasks, and people are essential to succeeding in that type of position.
For Project Managers, it can be easier to carry over the tools and know-how for organizing their personal lives than it is for others. With that in mind, here are several tips and tricks from that trade that can help almost anyone manage, keep track, and organize parts of their own daily life.
Tackling Projects Using Tasks – One Bite at a Time
Tasks and to-dos are a huge part of any project. Whether it is for implementing a new piece of company software as a Project Manager or for landscaping the backyard as a home owner, each project should be broken down into tasks. Keep in mind the analogy of how to eat an elephant, which is, one bite at a time. Any project, large or small, can and should be broken down into a set of tasks.
Creating tasks is also important when there are dependencies. For the Project Manager, the task of installing the new software cannot take place until the purchase of the new application. In the same sense, the task of planting the new bushes cannot happen until they have been bought.
So, whether you have a project like the example above for landscaping or something on a smaller scale like simply cleaning the house, list out the tasks first and keep in mind those dependencies. As you move through and complete each task, just mark it off the list. Your project will be completed in a very organized way, ensuring nothing is forgotten.
Reminders Over Memory – Things Won’t Slip Your Mind
Some people have the most wonderful capability to remember anything and everything. However, this is not common for most. And often times, we can remember tasks for the office to be done in the morning more easily than recalling that we need to call the power company in the afternoon. Project Managers may use reminders for obtaining status updates, confirming deadlines, or creating status reports.
Outside the workplace, using reminders safeguards us from forgetting to do things, go places, make phone calls, or just about anything you can think of that needs to be done. Even if you happen to remember to make your car payment on the first of every month, having a recurring reminder set up on your mobile device or even jotting it down on the calendar for each month, almost guarantees it will never slip your mind. Because what if the day comes when it does?
You can choose from plenty of tools for reminders. From apps on your mobile phone and tablet, to desktop applications and browser extensions, to simple sticky notes and wall calendars. These days, mobile apps are probably the most popular method because they can sync across multiple platforms, pop up a notification right when you need it, and they cannot get lost or accidentally thrown away. You can also incorporate reminders into your task lists or use simple fun apps like MemoCool Plus.
Organizing the Team – Your Household Team
A big part of being a Project Manager is having to rally the troops. Different pieces of a project and its tasks are usually performed by various people. Being able to get updates from team members, give them incentives at times, and doing it all respectfully are important to the project’s success. Unless you live alone, it is likely that you have your own team of household members who perform and are responsible for different chores.
Being able to keep everyone on track with their daily, weekly, or monthly chores and tasks can be accomplished in several different ways. You can post a whiteboard or chore chart on the refrigerator or wall, listing each person’s name and chores, which can be marked off as they are completed. Templates make it even easier.
Another method is to track your tasks and chores electronically. Many products let you assign tasks to other people. So, if your children are a little older or you live with several roommates, then sending chores to everyone on the list can provide them with helpful reminders to get things done.
No matter which method works well for your household, keeping everyone on track with chores and tasks means that your living space is more organized overall. And, if you have to poke or nudge someone to stay on task, just remember that you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.
Other Helpful Tips
Take advantage of lists so nothing is forgotten. Whether you use paper and pen or an app on your phone, making lists of items you need from the store, clothing you need to pack for a trip, or places you need to go on errand day, means you should not forget a thing.
Also, take your time when creating lists and try to think of related items. If you are creating a packing list for your trip, for example, you may jot down “dress shoes”, which should then prompt you to write down “dress socks”. Or, for a grocery list you may want to buy steaks for the grill, which should then prompt you to pick up a side dish to go with them. Many task management tools, like those we mentioned above, can be used for these simple lists.
Use email flags for easy spotting. If you receive an email from your school, notifying you of a deadline, one from your cousin about a birthday party, or a reminder notice from the phone company, mark these emails with a flag or star so that they stand out.
If your inbox is flooded with newsletters, personal emails, advertisements, and all those other messages you get, chances are that unflagged but important emails will be moved to the bottom of the list out of sight and thus, out of mind. Many email apps, like CloudMagic Email, and online clients thus offer built-in reminders for emails to pop back up again at a time you set.
Test and incorporate the tools that work for you. We listed some task list tools and reminder apps. Note that not every tool works well for every person or family. Just as different Project Managers have varying styles for performing their jobs, different people have varying opinions on which tools work for them.
Try out a few different task management tools before selecting the one you like. Check out various household chore organizing methods to see which one works best for your family. One that you might check out that caters to households and includes projects, task assignment, reminders, and shopping lists is Cozi.
Let’s Share Some Thoughts
If you are a Project Manager and would like to add to this list, feel free to include your suggestions below. Or, if you are just having trouble organizing some of the things discussed here and would like advice or help, post your question or dilemma in the comments.