As a kid, I loved to sort the books in my bookshelf in alphabetical order based on the author’s last name. CDs and DVDs were also alphabetized. My clothes were always sorted by garment type, and then, by color. In my mind, everything had a system in which to be organized. As I got older, I used this approach when it came to school work – clearly cataloging notes and study guides throughout college. But my real moment of organizational glory? Planning my wedding. You better believe I had an accordion filing system to keep track of all of the contracts and documents I accumulated. My wedding planner actually told me that I was the most organized bride she had ever worked with…and it made my heart skip a beat. I know, I know…it’s pretty nerdy. But for me, there’s just something soothing about taking a pile of chaos and corralling it into neat – and meaningful – order. It’s safe to say that this affinity for organization has spilled over into my work here at Delphic.
Digital projects are, by nature, extremely fast-paced with a ton of moving parts. As a member of Delphic’s Client Services team, my job consists of juggling multiple clients and parallel projects. Sometimes the sheer volume of emails, tasks, and due dates can be overwhelming. But, it’s a necessity for me to be able to effectively manage everything so that I can ensure we’re meeting project milestones on time. I use a few different methods to organize all of my projects, and thought i’d share my personal tips for effective Digital Project Management:
Set Yourself Up for Success
First things first – approach every project in a focused manner. I have a checklist that I run through every time I get a new project. This ensures that I’m hitting every major item that needs to be completed before this project starts. This checklist will differ based upon your internal processes, but at a high-level, you’ll want to do the following:
Create a dedicated Project Folder and save all documents in there for easy access
Identify the team resources that will be involved in the project
- Think through a detailed project plan & timeline (even identifying the milestones and individual tasks)
Trust me, when a project is organized appropriately from the start, your team will appreciate it and the project itself will run much smoother.
File, File, File
Have you ever opened your inbox and been overwhelmed with all of the emails? Or, have you spent too much time trying to remember the subject line of that obscure email you received two months ago? I know I have, which is why I am a firm believer in filing all emails. Organize all of your emails by client, and then by project. This way you can quickly find a specific email when you need to. Star or flag the emails that you need feedback on. As emails are followed up, file them away into the appropriate folders. Using this system, only the emails that haven’t been handled yet will remain in your inbox. This will keep you focused on tasks at hand.
The To Do List
“The project may be the lion, but the list is your whip.” – Adam Savage
A To Do list probably seems like a no brainer, but I think what’s more important is how you organize it (surprise, surprise). Find a way to sort it so that it makes sense to you. My method is by client, then project, and then date. But, I’ve also seen other PMs sort on a priority scale of 1 – 3. There are a ton of tools and apps that you can use to create your own To Do list. Or, you can create your own custom version in Excel or Word.
Another thing to remember is to update the list regularly! Otherwise, your To Do list will also become chaotic. I have an ongoing status sheet with all project deliverables and milestones, which I update weekly. In addition, I have a daily To Do list that I use to keep track of tasks that I need to complete, and items that are due to me. I start every morning by putting this list together, and then I add to it (and cross items off) as the day goes on.
The above list is a compilation of things that have worked for me. Truth be told: It will take time, as well as some trial and error, to refine your systems. But the important thing to keep in mind is that you have to find what works best for you, and the processes in place at your company. But, once you start down the path of organization, you’ll feel so much less overwhelmed. You’ll have a surefire way to rein in the chaos that often comes with a tedious task list.