A few years ago I swore off the phrase “I’m busy” because I grew tired of hearing other people say it and I realized that it was nothing more than filler. And, everyone’s busy is different.
My view of busy is certainly different than yours so I swore it off as a phrase. Sure, it comes out but rarely.
With all of that being said, the amount of work that TechWhirl and I are facing in the next sixty to ninety days is fairly daunting. For me there’s the job hunt, helping finish off a long over-due side project (not my fault they vanished for six months and then showed back up) and managing all the things that two houses on the side of a mountain require.
For TechWhirl – we’re coordinating an awards program, preparing to launch our consulting business, managing two webinars, publishing a couple really nice thought-leadership articles, covering two events and managing the current consulting projects we’ve already secured.
There’s so many different projects that to write the above paragraphs I had to open up our project management tool to make certain covered all the high-level stuff. While this work load would probably shut down a lot of companies or people, it’s not too bad for us thanks to some robust planning.
We’re not busy, but we certainly are fully utilized. The trick has been being very diligent in planning and then working the plans. We / I use a variety of tools to get the job done.
Planning / Brainstorming – MindManager from Mindjet
I use MindManager because it’s the tool I’m most comfortable with and it is very good at getting ideas out and organized. It’s project planning tools are mediocre at best but for taking ideas and organizing it’s very good.
There are freebies out there, but I’ve never used them. It’s probably worth trying them out before forking over the money for MM.
Enterprise Project Management – GanttProject
This is a new step, but it’s working pretty well. GanttProject is an open source version of MS Project. We use it to list all the projects we have going and their work tracks.
Project Management – Team Work PM [TWPM]
Think BaseCamp but useful. We put every project and main tasks into this tool. They’re continually improving the site with better project management capabilities like effort tracking and Gantt Charts for time management.
The weakest part of TWPM is their enterprise / all projects reporting, thus the need for GanttProject.
Weekly Planning – MindManager
We have a list of the projects from GanttProject & then looking over TWPM, we then decide the priorities for the week. It’s a derivative of agile project management’s daily stand-ups and it’s worked very well for us.
This approach allows us to take the big picture and make certain the little picture (daily work) still make sense. It also helps us capacity plan. I loathe the idea of working late (because I get up very early) but if it’s a day or week that I need to be up, then so be it. This little tool helps us know it’s coming.
Daily Work – Things App / Todoist
I am an avid believer in the Getting Things Done methodology. It’s a hardwired thing for me.
I use Things for Mac because it was the best tool out there three years ago when I moved to OSX from Windows. Today, I would probably move to Todoist if I had a newer iPhone and iPad, but they don’t support iOS 6.
This level of planning has to do with what I do each day. TeamWork will say “send email to judges” so that becomes a project in Things and then I think of the things I absolutely need to do to make that happen – brainstorm note, find emails, write note, send note after editing.
It sounds pedantic and it is, but it’s a lot easier to motivate myself to find email addresses than something more complex. It’s the biggest lesson from GTD.
I’m sure some of you reading this think this is a lot of work, and to be honest you are correct. But, with these tools for my company and myself it allows me to get a ton of things done and still sleep at night.
A lot of people wonder how two people get so much done. I’ll suggest it’s because of our wonderful very special writers and the activities I mentioned above.